GOOD QUALITY paint, brushes and paper are half the battle in producing decent paintings.

Local family company Rosemary’s Brushes demonstrated to Keighley Art Club how they hand-make their brushes.

The company originally made brushes for the pottery industry before moving to this area. Now they supply artists, as well as industries such as make-up, cake making, guitar restorers and piano tuners.

A new workshop will soon open in Cowling. In the meantime enquiries and appointments for courses, workshops, demonstrations or purchases have to be made in three ways, by visiting, calling 01535 632666, or emailing

Rosemary’s daughter Symi, from Steeton, brought to the art club imported weazel tail bristles worth £900 – a surprisingly small pile on a marble slab to keep it cool. The hair is an imported, unwanted by- product of the food chain.

Rosemary’s Brushes make other brushes from synthetic hair, raccoon, goat, badger, squirrel and other animals. Every brush is handmade, and talcum powder is applied to the fingers before starting.

Heavy brass cannons with different internal bases and sizes are carefully filled and tapped with string, tying the end tightly. Excess or uneven bristles are removed, and retained owing to their high value.

The end of the brush that will be used for painting is deftly twisted, into a nickel, non-rusting fennel. When threaded through the narrow end the brush is ready for glueing.

German beechwood handles are always used this type of brush. After insertion the fennel is crimped, and the size and company name is printed on the handle.

Our members matched the final product to the brushes in their catalogues.

Symi gave out raffle prizes brushes for correct quiz answers. Questions were invited and some tips were given. These included not holding the brush like a pen, but holding it further up the handle or in a grip.

Symi also stressed the importance of cleaning brushes well. Watercolour brushes should be cleaned with baby shampoo and conditioner; acrylic brushes with acrylic reviver; oil brushes with a variety of oils; and synthetic brushes should be placed in boiling water for 30 seconds.

Normally more than 100 types of brushes would be made continuously by Rosemary’s Brushes, and details of all the products are available.

The final session was a demonstration of the possible use of different paintbrushes, including the dagger and sword, deerfoot stippler, reservoir brush, pyramid, spot and fan brushes. These all give different results and techniques.

It is amazing to have this company virtually on our doorstep, now that Conways has closed its art shop, even though the only current contact point for Rosemary’s Brushes is online.

You can also apply for a quarterly newsletter filled with interviews and tips plus current and future products. The company can also be contacted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Training CDs are on offer, and soon Rosemary’s Brushes will run art workshops in Cowling.

Keighley Art Club’s mini exhibition has been updated in Keighley’s Picture House cinema coffee lounge. Original artworks are displayed, and can be bought. One member sold six paintings to a visitor.

Contact cinema staff, our Facebook page, or call 01535 669914.