Rekab

Rekab is a brush manufacturer founded by Percy Baker in 1914 and currently located in Ma'alot, Israel. The company's marketing site explains that Percy was taught the art of brushmaking in London by two women dismissed from a major brush manufactory because they were thought to be lesbians. During WW II, the company issued work permits to refugee Jews from Germany to support them in England. The founder was killed during the London Blitz, but loyal workers kept the factory going. Two daughters who had relocated to Israel eventually brought the family trade there (and reversed the trade name). Nearly all Rekab's brushes are made with natural hairs or synthetic blends, though they seem to be expanding their lines of synthetic brushes.

Kolinsky - Rekab makes three types of kolinsky sable brushes. The Rekab 3 kolinsky round is the top of the line brush, with nickel ferrule and black lacquered hardwood handle (total length of the #12 is 24.3cm). The tuft is in the #12 is 31mm long and 26mm around at the ferrule, tightly packed, with a 9mm belly when wet. It snaps immediately to a perfect "needle" point, cleans up easily, and is marvelously responsive. The handles are well balanced (though a little short for my taste) and the brush follows your hand obediently. Sizes range from #000 to #12. Prices: #6, US$24.90; #12, US$95.70.

The Rekab 013K kolinsky round is an equally lovely brush, with a straight black lacquered hardwood handle, gold tipped, and deeply double crimped nickel ferrule (total length of the #12 is 25.1cm). The tuft is 31mm long and 27mm around in the #12, tightly packed, and snaps to an exquisite point; the belly is about 9mm wide when wet. Comes in sizes from #000 to #16. Prices: #6, US$17.60; #12, US$73.20.

The Rekab 346 kolinsky pointed rigger is one of my favorite kolinsky brushes. It is made with a deeply double crimped nickel ferrule and flared black lacquered hardwood handle (total length of the #12 is 24.9cm). But the real beauty is in the elegantly tapered tuft: 40mm long in the #12, 26mm around at the ferrule, and moderately tightly packed; it points flawlessly when wet with not a single stray hair over its 9mm belly. Its length allows wonderfully supple, endlessly flowing lines, but with all the expressive range of a good round ... a gorgeous tool! Comes in sizes from #0 to #12. Prices: #6, US$12.60; #12, US$59.20.

Finally, the Rekab 322 kolinsky one stroke is hard to find in retail outlets, but is one of the best sable flats available. The tuft is 27mm wide at the ferrule and 35mm long in the 1"; it snaps to a crisp razor edge, perfectly defined, when wet. Comes in the standard five sizes from 1/8" to 1". Prices: 1/2" (#14), US$51.20; 1" (#20), US$110.50.

Rekab 3 kolinsky rounds (#6 & #12, left) and Rekab 013K kolinsky rounds (#6 and #12, right)

Other Sable - Rekab's other sable brushes lead with the Rekab 013 red sable, which comes with the standard nickel ferrule and black lacquered handle (total length of the #12 is 23.2cm). The tuft uses sable hair that is very close in quality to the Rekab kolinsky brushes, making this an excellent bargain. Tufts are 29mm long and 26mm around, tightly packed at the ferrule. They snap to the Rekab trademark needle point when wet, and the belly is about 8mm wide. Comes in sizes from #000 to #16. Prices: #6, US$10.10; #12, US$40.20.

The Rekab 316 red sable flat is actually a bright, and suitable for oils as well as watercolors. Comes in the standard five sizes from 1/8" to 1", plus 3/8" and 5/8". Prices: 1/2" (#14), US$51.20; 1" (#20), US$110.50.

Synthetic Blends - Rekab offers one-stroke flats, brights, pointed riggers, and rounds made with their "unique" sable-ester blend.

Synthetics - Rekab offers some brushes made with nylon fiber (Golden Taklon), and this part of their line appears to be expanding. I haven't used these brushes yet.

Other - Rekab makes a 352 pure kazan squirrel round, with a quill ferrule wrapped four times with brass wire, in sizes from #000 to #16. This brush works very well as a wash and charging brush, but seems to me little different in quality from the Isabey squirrel wash brushes.

Rekab brushes are superbly made and very low priced for the quality. It's worth showing support to the company, if nothing else than for their avoidance of glitzy marketing and inflated product promises. They (along with ABS Brushes, Escoda, Kalish and Cheap Joe's) are an excellent place to start your natural hair brush acquisitions.

Rekab squirrel mops (#10 & #20)