Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Menso Brush Small Kolinsky Hair Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on his blog, Smallberry Drive, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Whew! I'll do my best to unpack that name as I go. The first thing you should notice is that this is a brush.

I really like brushes, and I have quite a few. They vary from a cheap, clear plastic handed short brush that was in a bag of twenty other brushes I bought from a big box store for $2.50, to the Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Pointed Round #3 that ran me $45 and got as birthday present. I often go by the same advice that my mom gave me on cooking spaghetti noodles "You got to throw some at the wall and see what sticks" and buy a variety of brushes just to see which one I gravitate towards. Brush differences can be completely obvious or very subtle, a lot of times the only thing separating a brush you could pick up for spare change and one they keep behind the counter is the varnish on the handle. There has been virtually no correlation between price and how often I reach for the brush. Plenty of my friends disagree, but I insist that the emperor is a total nudist.

Menso means small or details

Menso means small or details

The Kuretake brush in question tapers to a very small tip and it is fantastic for the thinnest of lines. The general shape of the bristled tip comes into play here and I will do my best to explain why with a story. I once knew a sign painter, a 60 year old guy whose clothes were perpetually covered in paint and whose hands were more cracked than the pepper at a fancy restaurant. He also did pinstripes for auto body places. I was curious, so he brought in his pin striping kit. To my surprise the brush was almost no handle but the bristles were four inches long. I asked about it and he showed me, once the very tip of the bristles touched the surface of whatever he was painting on, the sheer amount of distance in bristles between his hand and the contact made any hand shake or tremor disappear. So the length of the brush acts like an insulator or a shock, absorbing the inconsistency.

This brush with the longer than average tip has the same effect, very smooth lines, especially when drawing towards you with a low degree angle. This will also produce a consistent line width, For more variance and thinner lines try it out at more of a 90 degree angle, but watch your hand control. I found myself tilting it to a low angle for the smooth, consistent lines when outlining and longer ink strokes, and switching to a high 90 degree angle for details and finishing touches. The wide variety of uses makes this a versatile enough brush to be the only one I keep in my bag at the moment.

Kolinsky means weasel hair

Kolinsky means weasel hair

Kolinsky hair brushes are held in high regard for one main reason, they have tendency to snap back into shape. This makes the action of the brush more pleasurable on the page and cuts down on time trying to reshape your brush into a fine tip in between ink dips. I was a little worried about this brush being able to snap back since the length of the bristles were so long, but they never failed to spring back on their own. The shape of the brush really lends itself to longer line work and bring up another shape issue worth noting in brushes, ink retention. Typically, the more rounded the base of the bristles, the more ink you can load into the tip. The needle-esque shape of this tip made me worry I would be dipping early and often, but it could hold much more than I thought it would and would often have enough to do large areas of black. It didn't hold more than my Series 7 but it was darn close.

One of the areas where this shines is the personality of the dry brush, Often times I would dry it out by dabbing it on the side of the ink well and then rolling it on a paper towel and make patterns with the drying brush (see the inside of the tree trunk), then go back and add further ink. It is really pleasurable and the unique long tip makes a variety of fun shapes and patterns that a hand more skilled than mine could make beautiful things with.

Sure it's not a pen, or even a pencil, but if you were ever thinking of trying out brushes or if you have a few brushes you like but none you love, this brush would be worth checking out. It has quickly replaced three brushes I kept in my art bag and I have not found myself wanting.

The Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Menso Kolinsky Hair Brush is available at Jetpens.com for $14 along with its horse and goat hair bretheren.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on May 26, 2016 and filed under Brush, Kuretake, Pen Reviews.