>Steve Howell Brush Making Notes

>1. Steve Howell uses black bamboo handles for his brushes.
a. first he decides how long he wants the bamboo handle to be, and tapes the bamboo with masking tape where he wants to cut it. This will make sure the bamboo does not split.
b. then he cuts the bamboo with a coping saw that has a fine tooth.
c. finally, he bevels the ends of the newly cut bamboo handle so that it looks more considered and isn’t sharp.

2. In order to waterproof the bamboo handle and bring out its color, Steve rubs a “Wipe on Wipe off” water-based urethane on it.

3. Steve gets the animal hair for the brush from the Tackle Box, a fishing shop by Lake Newnan. In the section for fly fishing there are a bunch of deer tails and other materials that can be used for brushes.
a. Steve said that horsetail is too coarse a material for brushes, unless you want to use it for a drab and pull technique (for a mop-like effect) but is not good for fine line work.
b. Dog hair works well, especially the really fine hair under a dogs legs
c. human hair does not work at all
d. some of the Chinese calligraphy brushes use wolf hair with rabbit hair as a second layer around it.

4. After the handle is cut, use scissors or a pocket knife to carve out the membrane in side the hollow end of the bamboo you want to stick the brush hair into. This allows for better adherence.

5. Separate out the section of hair you want to use for the brush. It should be enough to fit into the bamboo handle, without being too much or too little. Without cutting the section of hair off, tie it at the bottom with unwaxed dental floss. Double knot it.

6. Cut the tied section of hair off about .5 inch below the knot.

7. With carpenter’s glue (NOT elmer’s glue)put a dab of glue down into the center of the bundle of hair, in the end that will fit into the bamboo.

8. Wrap the floss down and around towards the end of the bundle (where the glue is) and then tie it off. Smear the glue around the wrapped floss. Cut off the remaining floss.

9. Shape the glued end of the hair into a point, so it will fit better into the bamboo handle.

10. Put a dab of glue down into the tip of the bamboo handle, where the brush hair will go.

11. Fit the tied end of the hair into the bamboo handle; if it is a perfect fit, you’ll have to screw it in and then push it down. If it’s too loose, you’ll have to find another piece of bamboo that will fit it better.

*if there are errant hairs, you can try burning them away, but don’t cut any part of the end of the hairs, because it will blunt them and change how they make marks.

*instead of just grabbing a section of hair that you want and leaving them uneven, you can try lining the individual hairs up so that they make a flat edge (as opposed to cutting them flat, which would be bad).

*Steve’s favorite brushes were made of roosevelt elk and white deer tail

*Steve’s book recommendation was “Letters to a Young Poet”


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