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  • Jenny Gilchrist

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

faux squirrel hair watercolour brush

This week a lovely lady asked me about the Natural Squirrel hair brushes. She asked about I say it....the cruelty factor. This, in fact, is not only pertinant to squirrels, but any natural hair brush,...such as sable, mongoose and kevron hair, hog bristle, horse hair, pig hair, .....

Everyone should be able to make their own decision regarding the ethics of using animals for things like this. So here's what I found out about Watercolour brushes such as the natural Squirrel hair mop. Actually it was quite hard to find a definitive answer (re squirrels) about whether the animal was 'killed' for the tail hair or whether the animals were simply farmed and '...? shorn? I guess is the word?? Well, I couldn't find any reference to ANY brushmaker currently, who shaved the hair of the squirrel, and the squirrel survived. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I found only two types of brush makers. Those who 'farmed' the animals, that is they bred them especially for the purpose of using the hair, and those who caught the animals in the wild. Each of us is allowed our own opinion. It could be said that the 'farming' of squirrels for this purpose is much more humane, since they're treated more humanely than the ones captured. It is, perhaps, no different to farming cows to eat or chickens, or sheep so as long as you are not vegetarian, you may not have an issue with this. I, personally, have a massive problem with the capture of animals in the wild for the purpose of brushmaking. This seems to me to be an indiscriminate method, without considering the natural ecosystem, not to mention the cruelty factor. But as I said, it's a personal decision.

The sable will be dealt with in another blog post of it's own, later, as there are a lot of extenuating circumstances regarding this animal, it's rarity, it's diversity, and it's singular use as a brushmaker's dream. The last word on the matter is that there is a very sensible option if you have an aversion to a natural hair brush and the ethics surrounding it. Buy a synthetic brush instead. They don't have the same feeling, nor are they in any way up to the benchmark that the naturals are. There are some brushes on the market, however, that have very similar attributes and can hold their own quite well against the natural hair. (I'm talking about water holding capability, softness, fullness, ability to hold a point, durability etc.) Here are some options: Princeton Neptune synthetic squirrel mop or Dynasty Faux Squirrel mops, Escoda Ultimo faux squirrel mops. I'm sure there's others, but ... at least it gives us the choice. These brands are well know, trustworthy, the heads are full, have nice points, do hold plenty of water, though not quite as much as the naturals.


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