Friday, 22 August 2014

The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter. It's not always clear why.
Mr Olivander. Harry Potter. The Philosophers Stone.

Choosing a paint brush is a very personal affair one that isn't always dictated by logic. The Windsor & Newton series 7 brushes widely considered to be the finest example of brush manufacture is a brush that I've never got along with. Every W&N Series 7 I have bought has come with a split tip that no amount of brush soap or wax has been able to correct. My preferred brush is the Raphael 8404 (the one with the orange tip) but a worrying change in their manufacture has forced me to look just what is out there. 

I've used a few different companies brushes but today I'd like to throw the light on a set of brushes I stumbled on in my research - Broken Toad Kolisky Sable Brushes. These brushes range from sizes No. 3/0 to No.2 and are priced from £4 to £4.50. I'd argue the most common brushes you'd use are the N0.1 & No.0 - a cross comparison with the Raphael's range reveals a saving of £6.71 (not including the price of postage). This is a significant saving (you can buy another Broken Toad Brush for that) but are you compromising on the quality?

Being a completist I decided to buy the entire set. 

Each brush is individually packaged with plastic ferrules protecting the brush itself. Each brush also comes with a very helpful guide on how to protect your brushes. This is excellent advice for those who have never given a thought to brush care before. The last point is arguable but I happen to agree with it. It makes sense to me to store the brush bristles down in the ferrule so that no water runs into the metal part of the brush, loosening the binding material.

Opening the brushes reveals bristles that come to a pleasing point. The hair is very soft and retains its shape under moderate use. The bristles aren't as robust as the Raphael's and do not hold the shape when you make stabbing motions with them (like getting into hard to reach holes between chainmail). I feel that the Broken Toad Brushes were designed to the push and pull technique, whereby paint is pulled over a surface to create a smooth blend. 

Because of the quality of the brushes you can use No.0 and even No.1 for fine detail tasks like painting eyes or gems. The end stays sharp even after vigorous use. However I feel to get the best out of these brushes you must use a different size for different tasks. The Raphael 8404 can be used for a vareity of tasks and I fell into the bad habit of using the No.1 for all tasks - fine line weathering, eyes, details work and broad strokes. The Broken Toad brushes rewards the painter who knows how to use the full set rather than overly rely on one single brush.

In conclusion these brushes more than adequately fit the bill for professional and amateur painters alike who are looking for a top quality set of brushes. I'd urge you to buy the set to open up the entire gamut of painting techniques available and experiment with them. These are affordable enough to be used as basic brushes for everyday needs but have a fine touch to them that allows high end shading and highlighting. 

Broken Toad Brushes can be bought here:


1 comment :

  1. Nice review, I might buy them myself, since I'm still using the cheap no brand brushes.