It all started with the brush ring. It was a beautiful fine jewellery piece made with rhodium-plated 18-carat white and yellow gold and hand-engraved with my initials and our motto (Somnia mea omnia effeci et adhuc somnio) – and a spray of badger hair in the shape of a fan. It was a concession to the fact that I will never have my own beard to stroke and to aid the philosophical pondering process while creating my own work. My husband created the brush ring for my birthday in collaboration with a Hatton Garden jeweller and 3D printer - we love to combine the ancient with the modern in our work and do not hesitate to use cutting-edge technology in combination with time-honoured traditional craft skills in order to produce true objects of beauty. However, the rise of mass-production and automation has led to an emphasis on the cheap and throwaway. We are excited about our culture's shift in the opposite direction. Although we live in a fast-paced digital world where things can vanish without a trace, we feel that with the current craft renaissance there is a return to the physical realm; tangible books and solid objets d'art and paintings with soul. The simple act of drawing a line leaves your trace in the real world; a record of your hand on the page and the dried liquid mark of the maker which is unique in space and time.
Parallel to this I had been struggling to find the perfect paintbrush for rendering in my miniature painting. Ergo after much thought, and many brush ring strokes on the chin later, I created my own. Miniature painting technique is rigorous and demanding. Frustrated with constantly having to reload my old watercolour brushes, and not wanting to continually disturb my painting flow, I designed one that could hold the paint longer in its body while still maintaining its fine tip. I was constantly having to dip my brush into the paint, paint off the excess, and then finally apply the brush with the right amount to my painting. By the time I did so, half the paint in the bristles was already dry and then I would have to repeat the action only a few seconds later. Since the rendering in miniature paintings takes ages, and the rocks (and beards, which I also love to paint) are among the most time-consuming elements to render, I designed this brush with slightly longer bristles to hold more paint - not so long that it becomes unwieldy to handle, nor needing a learning curve like liner brushes for calligraphy and lettering, yet neither so short like standard watercolour brushes which involve recurrent dipping, which interrupts my flow.
Sturdy yet delicate. Beautiful and useful. I wanted to own beautiful and luxurious tools and accessories dedicated specifically to miniature painting, so I created beautiful brushes to inspire me to paint and to continually motivate me while painting. I could continue to make beautiful things by having beautiful tools to use. That way, I would gain even more pleasure from painting, even from the 'boring bits' of painting. Painting is not all fun and games. Some of it is hard work, a lot of it is preparation and the majority of the rendering stage is consistent, accurate repetition. But I am not a monk. I needed to be continually inspired during the process of painting as well as before I started a new piece. I wanted to wake up every morning and gaze at my desk, fawn over my beautiful tools and be so inspired to pick them up and then use them to make the paintings I desired. An exercise in self-motivation, because the first stroke is the hardest.
So we decided to create beautiful things for philosopher kings. We believe that being surrounded by beautiful things creates a sense of order in one’s life and trains one’s thoughts onto higher planes. We are not minimalists and do not believe in sensory deprivation. We are visual, we love the tactile and we love to engage all our senses. Although we respect them deeply, we are not monks. The simple majesty of using beautiful tools and accessories in one’s everyday work is what motivates us to continue to create.
We are the first company in the world to create luxe tools and accessories for miniature painting. We have several phases in our inventory of thoughtful products for the thinking painter. In its current iteration we are designing specialist brushes for miniature painting. Presently we are focused on specific areas such as rocks, clouds, water and fire.
So it starts with the Brushes, and we are excited. In the meantime, while we love and believe in painting more than anything else, we are expanding our vision to create our version of treasures for the modern scholar's studio - the ideal library, if you will - so please do visit us again and again to see what's new, and sign up to be the first to recieve our latest news here ~
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