Furiously working away today on basing figures from Firezone which arrived on Saturday I noticed just how much our tools become a part of us. Above is the tool which started this epiphany, a humble Humbrol paintbrush purchased in the early eighties when they were still making good sable brushes under that brand name.
The paints flaked away, very likely into my bloodstream, from so much use and the fibre of the thing has actually curved to fit my hand perfectly. It’s a joy to use, but like most of my paintbrushes it’s getting near the end of it’s days. I’ve got more than fair usage from them all though, given they were typically bought around thirty years ago. The key to this longevity is the quality, I’ve always gone for the most expensive paintbrushes I can find, plain sable at the very least even if the prices seemed eye-watering at the time.
Lately I’ve started replacing them with Winsor & Newton Series 7, although slyly as if I had taken a mistress. Only ever painting with them for short bursts of time and never in front of the older brushes. Now if you’ve not heard of these it’s only fair to point out they’re not cheap, being as they’re made from Kolinsky Sable, although the name is a bit of a pedant’s dream being as a Kolinksy is a form of weasel and not a sable at all.
The series 7 was first made following a royal command from Queen Victoria in 1866, and at around £7 for a 000 size you can’t help thinking they might be made by royal hands. Although even if you only get a decade of use from one it’ll only have cost you around two-tenths of a penny per day. Look after them and you’ll easily get three decades of jolly painting from them, and then the economic benefits of quality really kick in.
Be quick though. If you’re hopelessly middle-aged like me these are very likely the last brushes you’ll ever need to buy, but if you wait much longer you’ll find your last words might well be “Kolinsky! Kolinsky! I never got to wear them out…”.