Saturday 18 June 2016

In praise of prolene

No, not proline (the amino acid), prolene, the surgical suturing fibre. Makes a lovely watercolour brush, it turns out. I'm going to add to this post with some examples of using a prolene brush but I was looking for a new sword a few weeks back and the only ones the local art store had was one from Pro-Arte's range, which are made of prolene and I really like it thus far. Until then, I'd been using what Daler & Rowney sell as a 'sword' in their System 3 acrylics range, but it's really a dagger if you ask me. It does work really well for painting grass when used with thick suspensions of tube watercolour mixed into just small volumes of water. I really wanted something that could make finer strokes or give me more control - longer sword-liners are designed for lettering and sign-writing and are simply a liner that has been cut on a slant really. If you use them backwards or sideways, you can get some lovely effects.

What really surprised me was how good this fibre was - I was expecting it to be like golden taklon or Dalon or any of the other synthetic watercolour fibres that are all essentially mock sable - this is SO fine - it's hard to see in the photo below but the prolene fibres are finer than human hair and springy but they don't have a snap to them - so the sword is flexible and floppy, and, when wet, the fibres lock together (that's the best way I can describe it, they don't physically lock like hog bristle, however) and one can draw beautiful lines and calligraphy with it. I'm going to buy some more prolene brushes now I think as it's a lot of fun!

I've just shot a video that I'll be posting in the coming few days that shows what you can do with a prolene sword.

My Pro-Arte prolene sword blender - I wanted to show it against some other fibres. From left to right - Dalon synthetic round, white nylon (stained by Phthalo Green) round, prolene swordliner and kolinksy one-stroke. They're sitting on a white goat hair skyflow, just for contrast.


  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Mrs W! I'm trying to get a few samples from them for review - will send some your way to try out if you want to give them a go.


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