Makers & Brothers

Brushes and Bristles

Sweeping, an instantly gratifying process. An act of ordering, of manual labour with a tangible result. The feel of a solid wooden handle, and the swish of the brush. While we know the action well, and its effect, the technical side can be a bit of a mystery – despite the fact that the same processes and materials have been used for centuries.

The archetypal bristle used in brush-making comes from the humble pig. Thicker and harder at the root than at the tip, it can be used to make a variety of brushes depending on which part you use. Horsehair is also a significant material for the brush maker, and its strength makes it particularly suitable for brooms and dust brushes.

Bristles aren’t always hard, though – sometimes we need a gentle touch, or a fine dust-trap. The shaving brush, for example, is traditionally made from badger hair because each one has a rounded tip, so they cannot irritate or damage sensitive skin. The softest of all is that of the Chinese long-haired goat, very fine and very dense, making it perfect for trapping dust while protecting delicate surfaces like laptops and keyboards. Incredibly, this traditional material has proved perfectly relevant to our modern world – truly a modern classic.

“A new broom sweeps clean, but the old broom knows the corners.”

In addition to animal hairs, there are also various natural fibers that are ideal for brush making. Of these, the most iconic is straw, and in particular the kind that has come to be known as rice straw. This is actually sorghum, a type of cereal which is native to the Balkans. Strong and hardy, it produces brooms that will come to know every inch of your home.

Making a straw broom calls for stitching, and some of the oldest techniques are still the most valued. The Dutch style, for example, produces a beautiful curve, and while its practicality is unquestionable, we think that it will be just as effective hanging up, an aesthetic reminder that sometimes the old ways are the best.

“75 years have made us neither inflexible nor bored. We remain creative, curious and dedicated to our task with passion and enjoyment.” 

Photography, Makers & Brothers
Quote, Irish Proverb
Quote, Bürstenhaus Redecker

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