Heritage 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.
Craft category
Historic area of significance
Bechofen, Germany
Area practiced currently
Yorkshire, Lowestoft
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 trainees
6-10 including 1 trainee at Rosemary & Co and 4 trainees at ColArt






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

Issues affecting the viability

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

Training organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Other information




National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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