Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scrubby or scrubbing brushes

Brush aficionados mention often the scrubbiness, backbone and density of a brush. Usually in a sense that more is better, less is inferior. Sometimes it is acknowledged that excessive density can lead to problems with the release of lather but otherwise little is mentioned about the disadvantages of stiff dense brushes.

There's irony here. There is no doubt that enthusiasts tend to favour more backbone and density because there is a preference for soaps and face lathering. They like to scrub their face and swirl around with an exfoliating lather. Yet the major shaving brush manufacturers emphasise that a brush should be used gently using long to and fro motions to apply lather with just the tips of the brush head. The very opposite of what enthusiasts like to do.

The other irony is that when you visit a shop which stocks good quality brushes for the general shaver or possible gifts, most brushes on offer are what enthusiasts would write off as soft and floppy. Even in Jermyn Street and St James there are virtually no two bands to be seen.

Personally, I don't like extremes yet I enjoy variety. So occasionally I paint and sometimes I scrub, some days I prefer soap, others, it's cream. So I'm pleased to have a variety of brushes. There's joy in each.

What't the point here? Don't be too swift to follow the herd. Try different things and find out for yourself what you prefer.

New Forest Brushes - The Movie

It's not being nominated for an Oscar. No music or words - just a little bit of action down in the Forest:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Forest Brushes - In action!

Deep in the Forest this is one of England's smallest "factories". This is Brian, who also produces amazing working models of aeroplanes and boats. I first met Brian when I was looking for someone to make plinths for my bell collection. Then I asked him if he liked the idea of making shaving brushes. He now makes all New Forest shaving brushes. Here's a few pics to give some idea of the old fashioned way the brushes are made and the tiny workshop in which they are made. This, plus Fido's little office, is New Forest Brushes in action.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quality control

A bit lacking here?

Friday, April 15, 2011

China and shaving brushes

I started a thread on SMF about Chinese made knots. While I am an admirer of some English made shaving brushes, I don't accept that workers in other countries, particularly China, do not produce high quality knots or brushes.

Here is the thread:

Chinese made knots.

I decided to add no more to the thread, as I was already being criticised for my motives in starting it. But I did decide to discuss some of the issues with my manufacturer of brush heads in China. I'm not publishing this on a shaving forum because again, I'll be seen as promoting New Forest Brushes. I can do that here. Here's the reply:

Dear Peter,

The history of the shaving brush workshops in England is very long. Some workshops even have one hundred years history or more. The quality of their products has been recognised by most people. Chinese made brush heads or brushes are quite cheap, for the badger hair's origin is in China. Most workshops don't make the heads and the even the finished brushes at all. They buy the heads or the finished brushes from China and pack them with their own traditional packing. But most of them do not admit that the brushes are produced in China. They only say the badger hair was from China. So that they can sell the brushes at high prices.

I'll take some head processing photos for your reference. It can be proved that our products are handmade.

It will take 3 months to train a worker to make a low grade brush head, like bristle or pure badger. When the worker produces low grade heads about one year or more. We'll have a test. When he has passed it, he can make high grade badger heads like super badger, silvertip badger or long best badger.

We can make the 20 mm fan shape a little rounder, if you think it is too flat.
Ming Yao

It was interesting to observe the typical Chinese respect for age and tradition.
The last remark gives an insight into the specification process. I test samples, then seek modification if necessary. Note too, the standard of English used by a Chinese gentleman - also skilled in using the tools of modern technology. This is today's world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coates Shaving Cream - old type

If you can find some of this. Get it. It's superb. I have used each in turn during the last three days. I bought this just before the old stock ran out. I've never regretted it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Badger and Blade and New Forest Brushes

I have been following this thread with interest:

New Forest - the brand

The positive comments outweigh the negative, but some extraordinary comments are made here. It just goes to show how different we all are. An issue which I still find quite strange is why it is thought that Chinese workers are incapable of matching the quality of shaving brush knots made by workers in England and the Isle of Man.

Take a look at the results achieved by China at the International Mathematics Olympiad. If there was a competition to produce brushes to a high standard, would the results be any different?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Travel Brushes

I have never seen the point of a "Travel" brush. I just take out a couple of favourites and take them with me. Unlikely to include my Polo 14 but I have plenty that will do. But it seemed a good idea to add a couple more brushes to my Fido's Shaving Brush Blog. And here they are, the ones I bought on my visit to London.

This has a 43mm handle, 19mm knot, 43mm loft. It's a Super Badger, made for DRH by Edwin Jagger. Cost £50. The same brush with a higher loft can be bought direct with the Jagger logo for £32. A lot for a logo, but DRH is a fantastic shop in a world famous shopping location. As for the brush, typically soft Jagger hair makes it seem bigger than its size on your face. It performed really well and is comfortable to hold.

This is the TOBS version of a little Vulfix travel brush. A 20mm Super Badger knot, loft 43mm and a little handle 37mm high. A good performer although not so comfortable in hand as the DRH. At £39.95 including the case, not such a large premium fot the shop logo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I paid another visit to Jermyn Street yesterday. I had a browse in Taylors, Trumpers and DR Harris. Each has a huge variety of shaving temptations. I bought just two travel shaving brushes. Both bore the shop logo although one was made by Edwin Jagger and one by Vulfix. It would of course have been cheaper to buy the brushes as Jagger or Vulfix brands but I wanted the shop logo - and these shops are in prime locations!

I was struck by how many soft floppy brushes were on display. And the almost complete absence of two band brushes. There really are significant differences between the preferences of the shaving aficionados who dominate the internet forums and the general shaver and shopper looking for gifts.