Stained Glass Tracing Brushes: Why “Long” Is Often Mad

The first day of Stephen’s apprenticeship

Stephen’s a good soul, so he won’t mind me sharing this tale with you, but the first day of his apprenticeship way back in 1999, this is the kind of brush he turned up to work with …

Stained glass tracing rigger: not for us

Stained glass tracing rigger: too long for us

‘That’s no good,’ I growled.

Get something short

You see, long tracing brushes have their uses. By ‘long’ I mean 35 mm / 1 3/8 inches. Yes. If you have yards and yards of long straight lines to do down all the edges of your glass, maybe they’ll be perfect.

Most days they’re not.

Most days long brushes are a menace.

Yet retailers continue to offer them as ‘stained glass tracing brushes’.

Stephen even explained his long brush was the one he’d been instructed to get by his first teacher.

But most days we use short brushes.

By ‘short’ I mean 16 mm / 5/8 inches. We like sable (not ox). Ours are just good-quality brushes used by water-colour painters.

Good stained glass tracing brushes

If you can get them, Series 99 by AS Handover of London are good; but their website can be difficult, so I can’t recommend the experience. Also, the sizes can be erratic: sometimes the ‘0’ is bigger than the ‘1’ for instance. I imagine this is because they’re made by hand, but all the same, when I order a size 0, it’s a size 0 that I want.

Better stained glass tracing brushes

For a year now, we’ve been using the Pro Arte rigger from Jackson’s, and they’re wonderful. Size 0, 1,  2  and 3.

Pro Arte Renaissance sable rigger

Pro Arte Renaissance sable rigger: works wonderfully for us

Size 1 is great for most copy-tracing, strengthening etc. ; 2 is good for flooding and sometimes shaping/modelling. 0 is clearly rather ‘fastidious’, and 3 starts getting a little chunky but is excellent when you need it.