A place for Drachenwald's scribes to hang out, learn, discuss and critique each others work.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

To my knowledge the only primary source on making medieval brushes is Cennini's Ill libro del'Arte where he describes, short and sweet, the making of minever and hog bristle brushes.

Throughout the centuries the parts that make a brush apparently haven't changed much : a handle, a ferrule [now metal, sometimes plastic, then a piece of quill] and a bunch of hairs. Pretty straightforward. During munchkin-naptime today I grabbed beeswax, linen thread, a couple of sticks [you -always- have sticks in the house when there is a preschooler], a Xacto knife, a couple of feathers and some sable fur since I'm not too keen on having to shoot squirrels for the proper minever hair :)

It's a fumbly sort of business and arranging the hairs in a way that'll qualify in the slightest as a brush shape is the hardest part of it but I think I did okay. Here're a couple of pictures

The ingredients ...well, most of them. I forgot to take a picture of the beeswax and the thread ...meh.

Here the handle is already whittled into shape [you've gotta watch how much you're slicing off - you end up with a very very thin stick really fast *G*], the hairs have been fiddled into shape and tied to the handle and the quill ferrule is cut and good to go over the top.

Look ! It's a brush ! While the handle is not the Cennini recommended length of 9 inches [I love my handles short] it does look like a real brush. It's also not really unimportant to mention it actually works and keeps its shape fairly nicely :o)

So encouraged I made another one - a little fatter this time with a broader tip.

Now ... where to get squirrel fur ?


Lia de Thornegge said...

Now that's dedication to the scribal arts, making your own brushes! :)

I see the stick is wedging the bristles against the inside of the tip of the quill, but is this step strictly necessary since the thread is already wrapped around the stick to keep them on? Or does the quill cover serve some other purpose? A well for the paint perhaps?

Merlyn Gabriel said...

soooooooooo cool

Maeva said...

Hej Lia !

I love messing around with medieval scribal supplies - quills, parchment, now brushes - it is adventurous and exciting :o)

Actually you don't want the quill ferrule to get wet or soak up paint just as much as you try to avoid doing that to your modern brushes. The quill ferrule will get wet, the wood will swell and and eventually this will crack the quill ferrule.
What I'm thinking is is that you're not supposed to tied your hairs into a little bundle first that you then attach to the handle. I think that if you take the procedure as literally as possible then you tie the hairs to the stick and then the ferrule will provide more 'guidance' for the hairs - it's something I need to experiment and play with :o)

Maeva said...


it's -FUN- :o)