Like most artists, I place a lot of value on the quality of tools and materials I use in my art practice. That is why I have such deep appreciation for the handmade brushes that I aquire in Taiwan.
They are all beautifully made, using only natural, high quality materials. You can see and feel the difference, between a truly high quality brush and the cheaper alternatives. I thought it might be helpful to share the important features to consider when evaluating an Asian calligraphy brush.
A good Asian calligraphy brush should have four qualities:
SHARPNESS — The brush should have a fine tip and come easily to a point.
STRUCTURE — The longest hairs that make the tip of the brush should all be the same length and stay evenly together. No individual hairs should stick out.
RESILIENCE — The brush tip should react immediately when pressure is exerted by the artist if there is a correct balance between supple and firmer hairs.
ROUNDNESS — The body of the brush should be full and round.
Asian calligraphy brushes are primarily made with goat, weasle, lamb, horse or rabbit hair. The fitting are made from ox horn and the brush handle typically of bamboo, however ox horn, speciality woods and porcelain are sometimes used.
Brushes with darker hair (typically weasle or horse hair) are firmer and hold less ink than the more supple white haired brushes (typically lamb, sheep and or rabbit hair). You will notice that some brushes are made using both white and brown hair fibers, thus creating a brush that has some stiffness, but still maintains a supple quality.
I hope this information has been helpful...happy creating.