Over the years I have tested lots of brushes trying to find the one that works best for platinum/palladium printing. Here are the four that in my opinion are the best.
Number Four: Richeson Series 9010 “Magic Brush”
For many people this is the best brush available. I used to think this, but not any more. The Richeson 9010 is certainly very smooth, but the ferrule rusts too easily and the paint cracks off which is unacceptable given how much it costs.
Here is a photo of my last Richeson brush. It’s only had light use, but already the ferrule has started to rust and the paint is cracking.
Number Three: da Vinci Series 5073 Synthetic Mottler
This is an excellent all rounder. It is not quite as smooth as the Richeson, but the ferrule doesn’t rust. For a long time this was my favourite brush.
The 5073 shown here has had much more use than the Richeson above. The ferrule is stained, and there’s also some staining to the handle, but no rust.
Number Two: da Vinci Series 5080 ‘Cosmotop’
Manuel Gomes Teixeira in Portugal pointed me towards these brushes. They are not easy to find in retailers, but they are absolutely superb. Easily as good, if not better, than the Richeson, and like the 5073 the ferrule doesn’t rust. I like these brushes a lot.
This 5080 has seen a lot of use, and is in a similar condition to the 5073 shown above.
Number One: Traditional Japanese Synthetic Hair Brush
I also discovered these via Manuel Gomes Teixeira. These Japanese brushes are the best I have ever used for platinum/palladium. They are handmade with synthetic fibres at least as good as the Richeson and da Vinci 5080. They have no metal parts, and they look good too. Here’s the description from the Japanese retailer:
These brushes are made by Japanese traditional craftsman. Synthetic hair is hand bound with cherry bark band and silk thread, wooden handle. We don’t use the metallic part at all either. This means you don’t need worry of rust and the metallic pollution.
For years I have had the opinion that ‘Hake’ style brushes should be avoided because they absorb too much water and drop hairs onto the print surface. I still hold that view for every brush of this style that I have ever seen in the West. But these are different – they are absolutely superb.
The brush shown here is the ‘normal’ version (there is a ‘soft’ version for delicate papers like Tosa Washi Platinum). It has staining caused by me leaving it for long periods in water, but that just brings character.
I bought mine from Photo Gallery International in Japan. here is a link to their store:
At last I have found the perfect brush!