Based in Brittany, France, Isabey have been producing some of the worlds finest brushes since 1895. The brush making industry was revolutionised in the mid 18th century following the invention of the metal ferrule; other than this development, traditional brush making techniques have remained largely the same. Isabey strive to keep this tradition and know-how alive by creating all their brushes by hand.
Brittany is a region famous for its fishing. The fishermen left at dawn to man their boats whilst the craftswomen of the community stayed at home to make the world's most delicate fine art brushes. Isabey's traditions of fine brushmaking have been passed down from generation to generation. The company continue to have scrupulous respect for these methods and it is still their guiding principle that this hand-made process delivers the highest quality results. The knotting, turning and ferruling come shortly before the assembly of the brush, which uses carefully chosen embossed wood. A minimum of 7 years experience is required to be an Isabey brush maker, and a 10 year apprenticeship is required before being allowed to make sable or squirrel hair brushes.
The hair selection at Isabey involves sourcing the finest materials from some of the world's most remote locations. Unlike some other brush manufacturers, Isabey do not buy pre-dressed and pre-assembled brushes. The hair of an Isabey brush is selected and assembled from hand from start to finish, even including the washing, sorting and shaving of the hair. Each brush head is individually shaped during the mounting of the hair; this helps to preserve the natural qualities and characteristics of the natural fibers. No hairs are cut during the brush making process, only arranged carefully to make optimum use of the hair's natural properties.
Each hair is selected based on its intrinsic properties. Squirrel hair is the finest natural fiber in the world, with the highest quality hair being found in the Russian region of Kazan. This fine hair allows the ferrule to be densely packed, allowing for incredible colour absorption. Kolinsky Sable, which is almost as valuable as gold, is well known for its finesse, softness and resilience. The hair is dressed to ensure optimal responsiveness, even the slightest movement of the artists' hand will cause the tip to fold, fanning out to create a broad stroke before returning to their initial shape to form a perfect point.
Isabey brushes are truly a work of art.