Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi

BRUSHES - For decorating pottery.

ca: PINZELLS – Decoració en ceràmica.

es: PINCELES - Decoración en cerámica.

The next photo shows four brushes which are named after the shape of the hair.
a) Flat brush; b) Sumie; c) Fan brush; d) Pointed brush. Paint Brushes.
Over the centuries brushes have evolved into many different shapes, have been made up of different types of hair to produce different brush strokes, to leave different textures and to paint using different techniques and products. The best is squirrel hair, which is made up into brushes of many different shapes and sizes. It is expensive but there is also a large selection of good and more economical brushes to choose from. The hair should not be too long and be able to retain paint, to allow for long, strong, smooth lines, suitable for general decoration. A brush should be soft enough to relate to the movements and intensities you are imposing on it to create lines and curves.

The following gives a list of the names of the different types of hair and fibers and the names of the styles of decorating with which they are used. The photos only show one but many are available in different sizes. Brushes for decorating pottery are made with many different types of hair and fibers.
a) Mexican White Fiber is a cream-colored hair which is strong and used for slip and making textures.
b) Goat Hair is usually of good quality, held in a quill and wire bound. The hair forms a large, soft body so it can hold large quantities of decorating media. Leaves no brush marks and is used for painting on slips and glazes.
c) Mexican Black Fiber is a strong, black hair.
d) Hog Hair is a strong, cream hair, used for slip and lawn brushes.
e) Ox Hair is strong, brown and resilient. The brushes are wide with sharp corners. They are used for painting over large flat spaces or fine lines using the corner edge of the brush.
f) Pony Hair brushes are usually made in Japan; the hair is strong and wide.
g) Sable Hair. There is a large range of these brushes; they all end in a fine point. The small sizes are good for drawing and detailed work; the larger ones for general decoration of glaze and slips and are useful for on-glaze decoration.
h) Sheep’s Hair brushes usually come from China. They make an excellent pottery brush of long, soft, white hair.
Left: Chinese, with sheep’s hair and made with bamboo handles. They are separate brushes of the same size but joined together to make up one brush.
Right: Chinese sheep’s hair brush, bamboo handle and ox horn ferrule.
i) Squirrel Hair brushes are made in many different shapes and sizes. They give a strong, smooth line suitable for general decoration in both the under-glaze and on-glaze method. A brush with long hair and thin point can retain a large amount of paint, which allows for long unbroken strokes and lines.