Good paint brushes can be very expensive, but decent brushes are actually relatively easy to make. I used to make them for my children’s art class at school, when the teachers let me know they were in need. Surprisingly, it did not seem to bother them that these brushes were made from my own children’s hair. In fact, this seemed to fascinate them instead, and they always told me these brushes worked quite well. I have experimented quite a bit with this over the years, and made some intriguing looking brushes, that are quite functional as well.
Items needed :
1. Hair or other material for bristles
This can be, as I said, clippings from hair cuts, be it your own, or that of a family member or friend. If using someone else’s hair, I would get their permission first, however. You can also use other things, such as pieces of sponge or cloth , depending on the type of brush you want to make. The later two can be great for covering larger areas, or creating interesting effects, such as stippling and splattering.
2. Metal, or plastic to make the ferule which will hold the bristles in place
I often save old brush ferules from which the bristles are completely gone. If this ever happens to you, I would suggest saving them. If you don’t have these, even a metal ferule or nib from an ink pen will work, if you are making round brushes. There are also jewelry findings that will work, such as the end caps used for necklaces, if they are long enough, and properly shaped. Another useful item for making ferules is old plastic cigar tips. These are excellent for making flat brushes, as are many other plastic tips, stems, odd shaped lids, etc. Once you actually start making these, you will see many items that you would normally throw away, and realize how useful they might be for brush ferules. I have even used the ends of feather quills before.
3. Wood for handles
Again, these can be saved from old brushes, but there are also a wide range of other items that can be used. Wooden dowels, skewers, chop sticks, even a broken drum stick, old tool handle, or a sturdy twig or small branch can be excellent chooses. In fact, when you use your imagination, it actually makes your brushes far more interesting and ascetic.
4. A jar, or other container to hold brushes as they dry
This can be literally anything you would normally use to hold brushes, or it can be a simple glass or plastic jar, or a ceramic cup, for that matter. Whatever you use, its top will need to be fitted with something to hold the brushes upright while the glues are drying. I often use simple metal coils from spiral bound notebooks for this, though something larger may be needed if you plan to make bigger brushes.
5. Waterproof glue
I suggest mosaic glue, but waterproof wood glue and Guerrilla glue are also good chooses.
Now comes the fun part. Experiment with putting different shapes and sizes together with all these things. When you have a good prototype, or several laid out, glue the proper amount of bristles into your chosen ferule. This is done by holding the bristles securely just inside the ferule, and filling it about 1/4 full of glue. This should then be placed upside down (bristles facing downward) in your spiral coil fitted container to dry overnight, but several can be done and left to dry.
The next day, you will need to check the bristles to be sure they are secure, and pull out any loose hairs. You can then glue the ferule to your wooden handle of chose. Depending on the glue used, and the size of the ferule in relation to the handle, it may be necessary to crimp the ferule around the wood gently with a pair of pliers. Allow to dry over night again, and your new brushes should be ready to use the next day. Have fun experimenting.
Source : Over 30 years as an artist, crafts-person, and trainer of others in these fields as well.