Post 379 – by Gautam Shah



Oil painting brush strokes textures

A brush is a very common tool since ancient times. It is used for scrubbing and spreading, besides many other purposes. It has bristles held in a holder at the end of a handle, or bristles are held together through a tie. Brushes are hand tools at home, for crafts and for industrial processes. Brushes are attachments and also integral parts of the machines. Brushes wipe, polish, texturize and grind the surfaces, spread liquids and powders.



Art Brushes

The first brush for painting on cave walls, were formed of twigs, crushed under teeth. Other primitive age brushes were used for sweeping the grounds, made by holding together twigs. The art brush and the sweeping broom, both have flourished across ages, taking on many different forms. Art brushes have had bristles of animal hair and now synthetic filaments. Art brushes have different shapes, thicknesses and sizes. It depends on nature of medium (oil, water-based or acrylic colours), and forms (fine hairiness, heavier marked strokes, or merging washes). The broom has been used to sweep dry and wet areas, heavy items to floor dust, for scrubbing hard stains, for levelling the grounds, cleaning chimney stacks, for separating chaffs from grains and for mud daubing on walls and screeds on the floors.

Street Cleaning Woman Silhouette Sweeping Broom

Hyderabad street cleaning


Brushes were used for personal grooming since prehistoric times. These were used for making up live humans, decorating dead humans and animal for ritual burials, and for imprinting identity marks on domesticated animals. Animal hair or plant fibres in the form of brushes and in entangled form as scrub (of sea weeds) were used for finishing ‘green’ pottery. Similarly clay and cow-dung floors were patterned with twig brushes. Brushes formed of bird feathers have been used in magic and other rituals.

Water pot scrubber brush


Chinese and Japanese art and calligraphy began as art of brush strokes or reed points. The expression through the stokes was of weight (intensity of hues), width (angle of the brush or point) and the added wash effects. The brush stroke became an expression in European art from 17th C. The brush was used to apply heavily bodied and intensively hued colours (both options that began to be available then).

A highly decorative badger hair brush dating to Ming Dynasty, featuring dragons inlaid with gold and silver foil.


Exclusive art brushes were formed in 17 and 18th C, Three new varieties emerged. These were water colours brushes, household or architectural oil painting brushes and brushes for very fine quality miniature and graphics work. Water colour brushes required very fine hair so that no marks of strokes were left, and it must hold water thin viscosity medium. Architectural oil paints were applied on wood, masonry and occasionally on metals. Of these surfaces, the masonry was very robust surface, requiring tough bristles. Masonry brush bristles were required to hold the medium within their body without dripping. The work surfaces were extensive so the sizes were very wide. Miniature paintings over mica, leather, bone and teeth materials were already in vogue, but improvements in paint mediums, required finer brushes, often of just few hairs.


Brushes for cleaning

During late 18th C many new industrial materials and processes were innovated. These required finishing techniques beyond nominal grinding and polishing. New bristles such as harder organic materials like coconut husks, coir, palm leaf bristles, jute, etc. were formed into brushes that could rotate as a wheel, or as continuous looped belting. Surface hardened wires of steel and alloys were also used. These were abrading and polishing brushes, offering better finishes then files and grinders.

Bench grinder wire bristles

Brushed aluminum

Industrial abrasive brushes are used for deburring, burnishing, metal finishing, cleaning of rust, grinding wood panels, and removing nibs from the moulded or extruded plastics. Modern polymer bristles have embedded grinding medial particles to help scrubbing or etching of the surface. Mechanically made strokes, surface textures, engravings, polishing, grinding, etchings, scrapping, etc. often involve tools or methods that are similar to brushing.

Paint application with brush wastes minimum colour compare to other methods. Natural or synthetic bristle brushes are suitable for use with solvent-based coatings. Synthetic bristle brushes are preferred with water-based coatings, because natural bristles tend to swell in water.

Brushes are used for sweeping the floors as in sports, or to play drums. Dental brushes have changed in form and function.

The skip of Team Sweden joins the front end in sweeping a stone into the house at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver

drum brushes

Dental brushes

Brushes are used to clean-up eraser dust of the paper, or draw coloured highlighting lines. Brushes are used for grooming up dogs, clean up fabrics like wool or refresh the suede texture of leathers and fabrics.



2 thoughts on “BRUSHES

  1. Pingback: LIST of BLOGS on LACQUERS, PAINTS and THINNERS | Interior Design Assist

  2. Pingback: LIST of BLOGS on COLOURS | Interior Design Assist

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