Why Kolinsky Sable Brushes Are So Expensive | So Expensive

Making a Series 7 kolinsky sable watercolor brush isn’t easy. The largest-size brush can take almost a week and a half to make. You can pick up a cheap, synthetic brush for under $2, but a Series 7 could cost you over $300. So why would anyone pay for a brush that costs over 100 times the price? Originally created on the request of Queen Victoria, the Series 7 brush was first made in 1866 and was designed to be the finest possible brush
for watercolor painting. Since then, the skill and craftsmanship that goes into making
each one of these brushes has remained exactly the same. To achieve this, the company needed skilled brush makers. And so, in 1946, set up a new factory in Lowestoft, England, a fishing town with a
history of rope making. This factory now makes over 25 million brushes a year. The intricate work and dexterity required means that these brushes are almost exclusively made by women. It takes three years to train, and there are only nine brush makers in the world that can make these top-of-the-range Series 7 brushes. Sandra Harris: I joined
here when I was 16. I worked 18 years, and I had 12 years off,
and I’ve been back 11, so that’s 28 years I’ve been working for the company. When you first start, you would probably only make a few. You’ve got to get, like anything, you’ve got a skill and you build on that, and you get to learn the skill, and then you get to do the speed. Narrator: The components play a big part in the cost. Each brush head is made
from kolinsky sable, a Siberian weasel that’s
hair is said to cost three times the price of gold by weight. These weasels are hunted sustainably every spring under CITES guidelines across Siberia and Manchuria. Only guard hairs from the tail will do. Kolinsky hairs are chosen because every single strand has a surface of directional, interlocking scales, increasing the surface area and giving the hairs their strength. And while many other natural and synthetic hairs are used for brushes, nothing has quite matched the quality of sable. Once the hairs are cleaned and graded, it’s time to start making the brush. The wool has to be removed with a comb, and the hairs are packaged up and carefully boiled and ironed. The brushes have to be made with hair at its natural length. And the skilled brush makers can effortlessly separate between 28- and 32-millimeter-length hairs just with their hands. This skill takes years
of training and practice. The nine brush makers each have 27 years of experience, on average. Hairs that are blunt or twisted have to be discarded. And most importantly, as each natural hair comes to a point, every hair must be the correct way up. The removed upside-down hairs can be flipped and reused. Every single hair is checked over by hand. The smallest-brush-size hairs are just 7 millimeters long, shorter than an average eyelash. Shane Buckingham: We can’t afford to let standards drop in any way, shape, or form. What I would say from that is what this factory has is hand skills. It has individual skills. It has skills that, when I have new people come in here, they don’t sometimes believe that this kind of work still happens. We show them what people do, they will turn round and say, “I’ll never be able to do that.” But they will be able to do that if they understand that
quality comes first. Narrator: When the hairs are all sorted, they’re ready to go into the cannon. The bundle is tied together and gently twisted through. Individual hairs are added or taken away until it’s an exact fit. Buckingham: They need
to have that fine point to work with, that, basically, it has that color-carrying capacity. That the brush won’t split or do anything that it shouldn’t do, basically. Through the hair that we use, through the skills of our makers and how they make them, we’ve done everything we possibly can to make sure that we have produced the best product we possibly can. Narrator: Then, it’s time to attach the handles. The factory uses birch wood handles imported from Italy. The brush is glued into place, and then the brush heads are
crimped onto the handles. This crimping process bends the metal to shape and keeps the handle tightly attached to the brush. Once the paintbrush is assembled, it needs to be branded and tested. The size and logo of each brush is stamped in gold on the handle. Wet-point testing assures that everything works exactly as expected and there aren’t any
loose or crooked hairs. Each brush is then gummed, a process that gives the brush head its final shape and allows it to bounce back. The shape of the natural hairs gives the brush a wide belly and a fine point. Mark Brindle: So, the
key to our brush making is the people. And that is the skill. We retain knowledge from generation to generation. So, we have makers now that are working under an apprenticeship of a 49-year-served brush maker, who himself had an apprenticeship under another 49-year-serving brush maker, who was brought into the business under his father, who made brushes directly for Queen Victoria. And it’s very key that we retain that knowledge throughout the business, generation to generation, and we are now bringing in the next
generation to make sure that we uphold the very high-quality standards that we base ourselves on.

100 Replies to “Why Kolinsky Sable Brushes Are So Expensive | So Expensive

  1. When I was a kid i asked my dad for a painting set expecting something small with pans, on Christmas i got a massive wooden box full of W&N tubes, a porcelain mixing pallette and squirrel hair brushes, it was the best set I ever had, still have the box and the mixing pallette 30 years on, the brushes lasted many years, never had anything like it since.

  2. I wonder how well these workers are paid when the company relies on them and they have all the skill it takes to make all their products.


  4. American work ethic simply would not allow fine craftsmanship to exist. It's all about least amount of work for the highest dollar earned.

  5. It doesn't matter how high quality, expensive, or soft these brushes are… animals are literally killed to make them. Lives taken away to make material objects. Sad and disgusting on behalf of human beings to glorify something that destroys nature.

  6. Whoever says this is a waste of money is honestly wrong any artist can tell you cheap brushes usually go used twice and after that they are useless

  7. Nice advertisement, I am not convinced that modern day science can't replicate the quality of natural hair of the animal. Its all gimmick tbh!

  8. Factory makes 25million brushes a year. Only 9 brush people. And takea ofer a week to make a medium one. Cam somone explain it please. Caus ei dont get how 9 people can make 25 million brusshes a year

  9. I’m an illustrator and own many kolinsky sable watercolor brushes. They’re superb. I love seeing how they’re made. Thanks!

  10. Man the virtue signalers and trolls in these comments…
    1. Synthetic materials are made by mining non-renewable resources and turning them into plastics. This process kills countless animals via habitat destruction, chemical leaching, pollution, food chain micro plastics, climate change, and much more. You as a human being have killed more animals just by existing than probably ALL of the animals ever killed to make sable brushes.
    2. JFC the keyboard MRAs are arguing about 9 women being the leading elite. If you don't like it then dedicate your life to gaining the skills and put the number of experts in the double digits. There is too much to be said about how handicraft was often dedicated women's work and the cultural history of how male domination in specialized fields usually comes only after it becomes lucrative (thusly making it work no longer suitable for women). These same types of people argue that the wage gap and industries dominated by men are that way because women wash out and aren't willing to do specialized work (see arguments such as "Well it's only men who are willing to work drilling oil and other dangerous jobs. If more women were willing to work like that the wage gap wouldn't exist.") But less than a dozen people are elite in this specialized field and most of them are women with nearly 30 years experience each?!? "Oh hell no, let me misappropriate and delegitimize the #metoo movement so I can be a petty child!"

    Y'all need to quit.

  11. Wow so if those 9 brushmakers aren't happy, they can just quit their jobs and the company will suffer big time…. Those brushmakers must be getting paid a lot and treated super well to prevent that from ever happening.

  12. Why these brushes are so expensive? Because of the stupidity of people that think they will paint better with expensive tools..

  13. Cheap copies from China of all sorts of products have decimated British manufacturing. We live in a throw-away, frequent-buy culture. Whenever I can, I buy British or European artisan-made goods that last a lifetime. One thing well made gives you far more pleasure than a multitude of tat.

  14. 4:37 "through the skills of our makers and how they make them." Lady brush maker bringing the hairs to a point by sucking on the brush…

  15. These numbers don't add up. If they make 25 million a year, yet only 9 purple can make them, then each woman would have to make over 2700 a Day. This is assuming they worked for 365 days straight without a day off. So how can each brush take a week and a half?

  16. Wow nice, didn’t know white people still do that kind a stuff. At least in Europe so I can still belive it, if that was in America then I would be like no wayyy

  17. First thought wow are they expensive$300 wow but I know the quality is spot on damn and I appreciate that I know what goes into making things sometimes by hand I have made myself some things by so I understand this video speaks to me and I love it a great video love it ✌️👍😀😁❤️

  18. For once something is expensive not because some bloody celebrity put it around their neck…remember chocolate diamond? What bullocks!

  19. My most precious watercolor brushes are my Kolinsky Sable Versatil travel brushes from Escoda, a Spanish brand, which are worth about 500 dollars already. I also have one from Isabey. They are the most beautiful, softest brushes that I have had. I did notice that the ferule of the brushes seem to have shorten and gone is the glossy finish since I bought brushes in a 3 year gap. Nevertheless, this video made me appreciate my brushes more. I still buy and use synthetic, cheap brushes as those brushes are more stiff and better for lining.

  20. The fact that these ladies need to stick the brush hairs of a dead animal in their mouth during final assembly is disgusting on so many levels. 🤮

  21. Did anyone else notice that what Impact it can bring to kill This much innocent animals And is still so many people are talking about the craftmanship what a joke

  22. I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.

  23. 1:10 "The intricate work and dexterity required means that these brushes are almost exclusively made by women."

    I knew that they would try to sneak something politically correct in but try to make it believable and at least to some extent connected.

  24. In an NPC mindset:
    The fur is from animals?! Leave them alone 😔
    All whites and female working?! Not enough diversity and representation!!
    Started when she was 16?! That's child labour >:(

  25. That's craftmanship! I spent most of my ceramist life using your product and you made it so much easier because of your quality brush.

  26. They've made significant progress in making high quality synthetic fibers to produce more affordable brushes that perform like Sable brushes. Really nice to see how these are made. I have both kinds.

  27. NOOOOO! I wanted to keep seeing them make the brushes! 6 mins is not enough for seeing elite level people doing what they know best!

  28. so murdered little creatures and 300 dollars.. talk about blood money and blood on their hands people use synthetic or horse hair or human hair dont support these people

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