According to a popular belief, synthetic bristle is simply not comparable to Kolinsky sable or even squirrel.
Synthetic brushes have a number of drawbacks, that’s true, but I’m sure: they offer significant advantages over their counterparts at the same time. And it isn’t just about their low price.
The Difficult Choice between Natural and Synthetic Hair
Artificial fibers are usually produced from nylon or polyester. The polyester derivative that brush manufacturers use most often is called ‘Taklon’.
Taklon is made in a variety of sizes, from 0.08 mm to 20 mm. It mimics both soft and stiff animal hairs.
These filaments vary greatly in their characteristics. For example, sometimes they are engineered to hold more color; such an effect is achieved by splitting the tip of each bristle.
The fibers have many other impressive features as well.
- can be used not only for watercolor or oil, but also for caustic acrylic paints, which damage animal fur;
- allow you to work on any surfaces, even on concrete, because Taklon hardly ever breaks down;
- don’t trap particles of paint pigments – it’s easy to keep the brushes clean;
- give you a nice sense of control thanks to their flexibility;
- maintain their shape very well;
- last a bit longer than natural material;
- contain no allergenic elements.
After all, man-made bristles are the only option for artists who don’t approve of killing animals for industrial needs.
A Kolinsky sable, an ox, and a squirrel are often preferred by professional artists, since these hairs hold more water and distribute paint smoother.
And yes, it must be recognized that they are perfectly soft. The mentioned advantages of natural paintbrushes are especially important when you work with a liquid medium.
Can a noble sable beat synthetic filaments, or maybe vice-versa? There is no point in arguing. Everything depends on the type of work which you are going to do in a particular case. As for me, I have five natural-hair brushes and five artificial ones. I like all of them.
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