When deciding on the best paint brush for your project, it’s important to consider the brush’s tip material as well as its size and shape. A quality brush will hold a good amount of paint, facilitate a smooth stroke, and won’t shed or split. A kolinsky sable–hair brush, also known as a red-sable or sable-hair brush, is intended for fine art use. The hair is sourced from the Siberian kolinsky, which is a species of weasel, not a sable. The hair is gathered only in the winter, from one of the coldest places on earth, producing the longest, densest, and most luxurious hair; these brushes are rare and can be expensive. Kolinsky sable brushes are used for watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint and are a great choice for detail work, thanks to the fineness of the bristles. See the best brushes below.
1. Isabey Brush Series 6227Z Kolinsky Round
This size-two round brush is perfect for both executing small details and laying down large swaths of color. Made of the finest kolinsky sable, sourced straight from Siberia, this brush holds its shape and retains its spring. The doubly crimped ferrule ensures that the brush won’t become loose, and, by design, the bristles are seated deep into the ferrule with less curve exposed, maximizing the brush’s snap and control. The length and diameter of the handle is customized for the exact bristle weight, so that it balances perfectly: swelling out at the grip and tapering at the end. A great general-use brush, it works for watercolor, oil, and acrylic painting projects.
2. Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush
Best used for watercolors, Winsor & Newton’s kolinsky sable–hair round brush comes in sizes ranging from ultra-fine (triple zero) to thick (12). While some round brushes lose their crisp point with heavy use, this brush has excellent durability and will snap back into shape when wet. Color flows evenly and consistently to the point of the brush, thanks to the dense bristle belly, and doubly crimped ferrules ensure that the brush head won’t become loose.
3. da Vinci Brushes Round Shape Set
For art students looking to find a set of brushes on a budget, look no further than this product. Featuring five brushes, this pack includes round brushes ranging from size zero to size six. Manufactured with certified green processes, each brush has a sustainable wood handle and nickel-plated brass ferrules. Handcrafted by skilled artisans at the da Vinci factory in Germany, all brushes are individually tested to ensure the finest tips.
4. Raphael Fresco Red Sable Oil Brush
This flat, round-tipped size-six brush is a great choice for precision and detail work. The bristles lay down smooth strokes, and the doubly crimped ferrule ensures that the brush head won’t shed or become loose. The handle swells at the grip and tapers at the end for balance, and the extra-long length allows for precise control. Made of pure red sable, this brush performs well and maintains its shape and spring.
5. Speedball Oil & Acrylic Brush Set
Packed in a beautiful hardwood box, this set of six handcrafted kolinksy-tajmyr sable paintbrushes is a luxury pick for fine artists. Featuring brushes in sizes ranging from zero to ten, it has all the variety you’ll ever need. Each brush has a long natural-wood handle and triply crimped ferrule. Handmade in Spain, these brushes are a work of art in themselves.