I got an exciting parcel in the mail the other day… a brown paper package (sadly not tied up with string) BUT with a Rosemary & Co Brushes stamp on it. Inside was a new exciting brush – a sable blend dagger.
Many of you have noticed the black handled dagger brush that often appears in my IG photos. This is the brush I use 95% of the time when I am out sketching, but I have been reluctant to openly share what it was- mainly because it is hard to buy online and there is no point tempting you all with something that is not readily available! It is a Holbein Series 350D Para Resable size 12. (I bought mine in Straits Commercial while in Singapore but can only find it on a Japanese site here.)
Anyway… to cut a long story short, (or to cut a long swordliner short so it becomes a dagger), I contacted Rosemary about making a shorter version of their lovely 1/2 “swordliner brush (image coming later in this post) to match the one I was using… and guess what is now on their website?
Series 772. Sable Blend Daggers
I am loving this new brush, it is softer than the Holbein but with a nice point and is holding more water.
Why do I use a dagger?
Mainly to get more expressive strokes – thin strokes like a rigger, big wider strokes like a flat and lots of other expressive calligraphic marks. A lot of artists use a dagger with precision, however I have not tried to master it in this way as my natural flow is to work fast and loose. I allow my dagger to twist and do crazy things on me and as a result, sometimes get a few strange marks. There is no doubt that using a dagger has taught me a lot about being deliberate with my brushstrokes and this has paid off when I use a round brush.
Note: I still use a #8 round sable brush a lot and this is still my recommendation for beginners.
I was finding that due to my heavy usage and the way I was painting with the tip a lot, I was going through round brushes quickly, ruining the points. This is less of an issue these days since I have changed my paint techniques and the way I pick up paint (less drilling down into the pans) but I have found the dagger more robust in terms of maintaining a nice point.
Other dagger brushes I have used:
I started off using a smaller size dagger – Art Basics Taklon Daggers (available from The Art Scene). They have three sizes and all are very good. With a dagger, you want to keep the edge sharp so synthetic is good for that, but I do prefer the softness and how much water a sable can hold. So a sable blend is the best of both worlds.
Here is the swordliner brush I mentioned earlier: Series 770. Sable Blend Sword Liner – Size 1/2″. I love this brush but find it hard to use. The long hairs require a control I haven’t achieved yet, but I still use this often at home and have a LOT of fun with it.
Rosemary also makes a travel dagger brush: R12 Pocket Sable/Nylon Blend Dagger – Size 1/4″. This is a great little brush and was developed thanks to Jane Blundell (no guesses as to who was the one who suggested I contact Rosemary about making the shorter version of the sword liner?)
But the best size for me is this new 1/2″ Series 772.
Thanks Rosemary & Co – I am a very happy painter!
Click here for a video on how I use the dagger brush on Instagram
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Are there any exercises or best images to start with you suggest to become proficient in the dagger/sword? I have a Silver Velvet “stripper” (sword) that I really like but want to grow in my use of.
Hi Cianna – I think it’s just good to experiment with it – painting with different sides of the brush and playing with different subject matters.
What is the length of the handle on your sword liner? I have the Rosemary & Co dagger, but have yet to get confortable with it.
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