Sign up for my email list!

Isabey Rigger
Watercolor Brush Review



Isabey was the first brush company to make rigger brushes, so I have wanted to try one for some time! This is a red sable hair brush, not the Kolinsky. Since red sable and Kolinsky are grades of the same animal hair, I've found that a top brand red sable is very superior to a lesser 'Kolinsky.' It's all sorted in quality control! A rigger is a more disposable brush, especially the tiny ones. The point is critical, but easily damaged.

The Isabey company has been making brushes since 1895. All Isabey brushes are handmade by skilled artisans. Each artisan must spend 7 years training before they can make an Isabey brush. It's a full 10 years before the artisan can make a red sable brush. The entire process, from sorting to handle making to hair insertion and trimming, is done in the Isabey factory. There are not many brush manufacturers who still do this. As I was saying, all in quality control!

Painting Blackberry Flowers Demonstration
painted with Isabey Rigger size 1

The Isabey company has been making brushes since 1895. All Isabey brushes are handmade by skilled artisans. Each artisan must spend 7 years training before they can make an Isabey brush. It's a full 10 years before the artisan can make a red sable brush. The entire process, from sorting to handle making to hair insertion and trimming, is done in the Isabey factory. There are not many brush manufacturers who still do this. As I was saying, all in quality control!
Detail of Isabey Red Sable Rigger Brush

Detail of Isabey Red Sable Rigger Brush


Positives

The Isabey rigger brush has the most beautiful balance of any brush I've ever used. It's an absolute delight to paint with. The brush handles thin to thick rigger strokes beautifully. I really love this brush!

Negatives

Since it's such a tiny, natural hair brush, sometimes the point is lost quickly when reloading the brush.

It also runs out of paint and water quickly, but that's proportionate to the size.

Italian Cafe Painting Tutorial Demonstration
painted with Isabey Rigger size 1

Sizes Reviewed Materials Handle Materials Durability Value (MSRP not sale) Level Overall Rating
1 Red Sable Lacquered Hardwood B $ 14.12
Intermediate
Advanced
A+

Point
A

Control
A+

Even Brush Stroke
A

Circle
A

Zigzag
A

Overall Feel
A+


Conclusion

The Isabey rigger is really just an excellent brush. It is balanced perfectly to hold at the tip of the handle, as a rigger should be held.

To see the brush being used, please check out my How To Use a Rigger Brush video!

This brush is a good entry price point for a suberb brush. It's a useful little brush that will last well.




Maine Path Demonstration
painted with Isabey Rigger size 1

Disclaimer

I bought all of the supplies reviewed on this page with my own money.
These reviews are to simplify the confusing world of non standard artist materials.
They are supported by the ads shown, Amazon affiliate links and selling my paintings.

Testing Criteria

Durability
Can I scrub the brush?
Is the sizing immediately gone?
Will it pull up on multiple washes?
Will masking come off easily?

Saturation
Will it resist or soak up water?
How quickly can I do another wash?

Overall Feel
This is my personal viewpoint on the brush. Do I like to paint on this brush?

How does the brush feel to work on? Does it respond well to the brush or seem to resist it? Can I work quickly and easily or do I have to keep in mind the brush's quirks as I go?

Brush feel is difficult to quantify but very important to the artist. Sometimes I work with difficult brushes just because I love how they respond to the paint and the overall affect.

Individual artists will have as many different opinions as painting styles!

Value
First, is this meant for students or professional artists?
Does the price reflect this?

In these days of super sales and discounts of 50% expected off a artifically high MSRP, it's impossible to give accurate prices. I'm using MSRP for comparative cost. Please realize that 50% off the list price is very common! These are certainly NOT the prices I paid with a coupon!

Sign up for my email list!