Finance and Business

Why Kolinsky Sable Brushes Are So Expensive | So Expensive

making a series seven kolinsky sable watercolor brush isn’t easy the largest sized brush can take almost a week and a half to make you can pick up a cheap synthetic brush for under two dollars but the series 7 could cost you over 300 so why would anyone pay for a brush to cost over a hundred 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 watercolour 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 wages 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 makes in the world that can make these top-of-the-range series seven brushes I joined here when I was 16 I worked 18 years and I had 12 years off and I’ve been back in every 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 the components play a big part in the cost each brush head is made from kolinsky sable a Siberian weasel this hair is said to cost three times the price of gold by weight these weasels are hunted sustainably every spring under satie’s 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 the 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 pairs 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 a 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 is just seven millimeters long shorter than an average eyelash we can’t afford to let standards drop in any way shape or form well 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 around 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 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 added or taken away until it’s an exact fit they need to have that fine point to work with that basically it has that color carrying capacity the the brush will split or do anything that it shouldn’t do basically through the hair that we news 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 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 had two 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 where plink 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 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 and he’s father who made brushes Dairy Queen Victoria and it’s very key that we retained that knowledge throughout the business generation to generation and we are now bringing in the next generation to make sure that we uphold very high quality standards that we base our selves you
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