Friday, March 09, 2012

Q. Is this a Muslin Brush?

Is this a Muslin Brush?
Annie William using a 'wash' brush of some sort

This post is about a puzzle - about a brush.

I was asked yesterday whether Annie Williams was using a Muslin brush to lay down her unifying wash on the background of her painting. (see Annie Williams demonstrates a still life in watercolour)

I'd never heard of the term before and had to look it up.  I also looked to see whether I had a better photo of the brush - and above is the best I've got.

The wash brush that Annie William was using looks to me to be:
  • longer than the length of a large hand with fingers stretched out.  
  • The handle is very flat as is the ferrule around the hair.  
  • The ferrule seems to be about the width of two large fingers. 
  • The hairs used for the brush are very long - suggesting they come from a larger animal (ox?) and 
  • the body of hair seemed to also be flattish and to taper into a filbert shape.  
  • The hair worked well with water and seemed to be soft rather than stiff (ie a brush for watercolours not oils).
I immediately thought it might be a chinese brush - maybe a relative of the hake - but with longer hair.  It's like a flatter version of a mop brush.  The handle - which is very similar to that of a hake - made me wonder if it was some special sort of decorating brush.  I also wondered if it might be a lacquer brush.

The muslin brush

I had to look up muslin brush.  It appears that "muslin brush" is a term which has most of the search engines struggling!  I still don't know what it's for or why it has that name.

Below are the links I found to muslin brushes.  It would seem that ox hair seems to be the hair of choice.  Both brushes look squarer than this one which appeared to me to be rather more oval in shape.
These robust ox hair super thick flats can really move color on the painting surface. Oxhair is more absorbent than hog hair bristle but not as soft as taklon, sable or squirrel hair. An ox hair brush such as this should be in your assortment of brushes. They provide sure strokes on their wide or narrow side. Welded golden color nickel plated steel ferrules and short black handles.
Cheap Joe’s Magic Muslin watercolor paintbrush is entirely composed of natural ox hair. This feature along means that this brush has built-in durability, endurance, and a resilience that you won't believe! This art brush is a long and full shaped flat artists paint brush that performs as well on the wide side as it does on its narrow end
Does anybody know what a muslin brush is and why it has that name?

8 comments:

Margo said...

Katherine, if you want to see the use of a muslin brush a bit more up close, Chuck McLaughlin uses them on his demos on Jerry's Artarama website. That was what prompted me to ask. I'm always intrigued by a new brush. Thanks for posting this.

Maggie Latham said...

This is so interesting. I have never heard of this type of brush before! I will enjoy reading comments from others who have had experience with it. I Wonder why it has that name?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks for the tip Margo. Heer's the link - http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-lessons/free-art-instruction-videos.html
just pick Chuck out from the list on the left and then review his videos

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I know - that's the bit which has me totally intrigued.

SpinningDownUnder said...

From what I can find out, its a wallpaper brush! If you hadve problems making your new wallpaper stick to a freshly plastered wall that has been or is frozen, you would apply muslin that was glued on with size. Once that dried you should, in theory, be able to apply your wall paper.
http://tiny.cc/4tnzaw
Hope this helps solve the mystery!

Tina Mammoser said...

My guess is like Spinning's - I'm presuming this was used on muslin, so things like fabric painting for interiors or stage set work? The brush links you gave seem very expensive! The brush reminds me a lot of the varnish brushes I use from A.S. Handover - natural bristle but quite flexible. I use the lily bristle but they have ox bristle too (which I haven't seen so not sure how similar it is). But the price difference might make it worth trying: http://www.handover.co.uk/Brushes-ThinFlat_Brushes/c2_3/index.html?page=2

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks both of you. That would seem to suggest this brush is good at getting into all the dimples on rough paper - except Annie uses HP so that's irrelevant to her!

I'm still leaning towards varnish brush as an explanation - something that covers large areas comprehensively.

vivien said...

it doesn't help with your research into muslin brushes - but someone mentioned varnish brushes - for oils and acrylics I use large soft synthetic varnish brushes from B&Q a lot. They have long, very flexible hairs.

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