One-point Lesson : Brush Hair Length

Lesson #5: Seki san's advice on brush hair length ...

Dave: I've been having a bit of trouble getting the pigment spread smoothly on the block recently. I picked up a couple of new brushes, thinking they would help, but with them it's even worse.

Seki-san: Did you bring one?

Dave: Here it is ...

Seki-san: This is unusable. You've done a good job rounding the corners and softening the tips on the sharkskin, but the hair itself is way way too long - it must be 35mm!

Dave: But it was brand-new ... right from the shop.

Seki-san: (response deleted)

Dave: Well, that's just the way things are nowadays. But anyway, what should I do with this one?

Seki-san: Get some scissors, shears, or a knife or whatever, and trim the hair down to about 'this' long (he gestures about 25mm with his fingers). Then do your usual job on the frypan and sharkskin.

Dave: What's the problem with long hair?

Seki-san: Two things. One, such a brush carries too much pigment and paste. You start to get a lot of 'tamari' on the fine lines. And second, you get too much 'floppy' action of the long hairs flipping back and forth as you rub on the wood. It's difficult to apply the pigment in an even layer. Look at this - here's the brush I'm using to apply sumi to the keyblocks.

Dave: (looking ...) But those hairs are no more than 12mm long! This is useable?

Seki-san: That's one of my best brushes.

Dave: Then I should cut the hair about 12mm long ...

Seki-san: I don't think so. If you do that, you'll find that you just won't get enough life out of it before it gets too short. Start about 25mm long, and it'll last you a few years, gradually getting shorter.

Dave: OK, I'll give it a try. But please excuse me if I just try this on one of my brushes before I cut them all down ...

Seki-san: That's common sense, I think ...


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