Agreed.  In fact, I'm a vegan (diet and clothing) or at least "veganish" (I
know a few folks who are self-righteously fanatical about it, and I am not
one of them) and try to find non-animal art products whenever I can, but
it's very difficult.   I hope to test a new "vegan" watercolour soon.   And
not only that, I work on animal trade issues as well, and have attended
several Conferences of the Parties to CITES.  But that said, I've always
heard that the hairs used tend to be at least a by-product of the fur trade.


Mustelids don't really do well in captivity (although we are often told they
do) due to their high metabolism, activity and home range sizes.there is a
lot of stress-related illness in them.   I have found that synthetics work
for me for all but the finest brush (WN 000 Series 7), but that's just me
and my particular style of work.   I don't do washes as such.


I also find, and this is a bit embarrassing, that even at a rather advanced
age, I keep discovering new ways of doing things, with the same old
materials, or with new ones.   





Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905)-472-9731
[log in to unmask]






From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration-
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of mali moir
Sent: January-20-14 7:23 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] sable brushes


Thanks to all for the research on this interesting topic,

I thought there were farms too, as one of the brush companies I buy from,
ProArt, told me they had 2 ranges of the brushes I liked, they were
especially promoting one more than the other as they claimed 'this farm
treated their animals better'.
I also assumed that the tail is not used in the fur coat trade and that the
whole animal is not killed just for the tail, I cant imagine we could afford
these brushes if this were the case.
But still .... 
And still again ... I would love to know of a synthetic brush that is as
soft as the WN Series 7 and I mean really soft.

thanks again ........ Mali

Mali Moir
Botanical, Scientific & Natural History Artist
Melbourne Australia
Tel: 0422 575 034
 <mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask] 


Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2014 12:01:00 -0500
From: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCIART] sable brushes
To: [log in to unmask]

And thanks Barry for further info on CITES. It seems odd that the animal is
not farmed. I have to admit that thinking about using a brush made from just
the tail hairs of a wild animal gives me pause.... I would suppose though
that the rest of the hairs are used in non premium brushes. But still ....





On Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 11:56 AM, Kathleen Garness <[log in to unmask]>

Thanks for researching this Lore! :)


Kathy G


On Jan 20, 2014, at 9:30 AM, Lore Ruttan wrote:


OK, my curiousity got going. Here's what I learned this morning. The species
in question is Mustela siberica. It has two common common names; the
Kolinksy, and the Siberian Weasel. The finest brushes are made from the
hairs of from the tip of the tail of a male in winter coat! Now we know why
Winsor Newton brushes are so expensive!


Why all the kerfuffle? It's an issue related to paperwork that tracks place
of origin. The US doesn't like the paperwork that the Europeans use (go
figure!). Here is the text from a Dick Blick FB post.


"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun requiring specific
certification of certain products and is closely regulating the
distribution, importation, and exportation of natural hair brushes that may
have been made from endangered species. According to the National Art
Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) "Trade in kolinsky hair is managed by
the provisions set out in the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES). Kolinsky hair comes from the species called
mustela siberica. It is important to know that this is NOT AN ENDANGERED
SPECIES, but because of a seldom used provision in CITES, trade in kolinsky
hair requires CITES documentation." 

One of these requirements is documentation of the country of origin of the
hair being used in the brush. Many of the major brush brands are
manufactured in Europe, which follows different regulations and necessary
documentation. While these companies and the European CITES are claiming
that their version is comparative and valid, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service has started refusing to allow brushes which do not come with the
forms they consider to be valid from entering or leaving the United States. 

Art material retailers, brush manufacturers, and art material vendors, with
the help of NAMTA are working to come to an agreement with the Fish and
Wildlife Services and CITES to help ensure that the necessary information
and documentation can be made provided to them so that natural hair brushes
can again become easily available to the artists who rely on them."


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Lore Ruttan, Ph.D.

 <> Lore Ruttan Illustration


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