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Brush making

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts


Brush making


The making of brushes for painting, shaving, makeup etc.

This craft uses products derived from animals – please read our ethical sourcing statement.


Status Endangered
Historic area of significance Bechofen, Germany
Area currently practised Yorkshire, Lowestoft
Origin in the UK
Current no. of professionals (main income) 21-50 including 4 makers capable of hand-drawing brushes at GB Kent & Sons, 7 brush makers at Rosemary & Co, 9 hand tied brush makers at ColArt (Crown Artists Brushes) and 8 skilled in hair preparation; 6 brush makers at AS Handover.
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees 6-10 including 1 trainee at Rosemary & Co and 4 trainees at ColArt
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers






Local forms



  • Artist and specialist craft brush making
  • Makeup brush making
  • Shaving brush making
  • Cleaning and sweeping brush making


Issues affecting the viability of the craft


Brush manufacturers, particularly those making fine artists brushes, are reporting high demand and that their businesses are growing.

  • Market issues: The market is dependent on exchange rates to some extent but this is more to do with exporting products than importing materials.
  • Sourcing raw materials: Nearly all materials are becoming difficult to source. The sourcing of some natural products, i.e. natural hair can be particularly difficult. There are also additional pressures from the vegan movement and those that oppose the use of natural hair. Firms such as Crown Artists Brushes have projects in place to try and mitigate against this risk. Many manufacturers are now using synthetic alternatives.
  • Market issues:  With some manufacturers, the core business is machine-made brushes and so the survival of the hand craft is dependent on the survival of the core business.
  • Training issues: At G B  Kent & Sons, the only firm manufacturing clothes, shoe and shaving brushes, there are no trainees but, if needed, existing craftspeople at will train existing staff. Although new handmade brushes and restoring old brushes is important it would not take up an employee’s full day.
  • Training issues: brush making is skilled and the training period is long. Manufacturers also have to allow for people leaving the trade after being trained, which can be a significant risk.
  • Covid-19: this has added significant challenges to the training of others.


Support organisations

None known

Craftspeople currently known

Other information