07-22-2020, 08:44 AM
#1
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Hi Everyone,


After my newfound obsession with high-end artisan brushes, I noted that most of them are sticking to Fan knots only (Declaration Grooming, Varlet, Black Eagle) or only going FAN and Hybrid knots (Paladin).   I think the only  High-end artisan brush maker that still has bulb knots is Morris & Forndran.

My question is, does this trend have a rationale? (like is it because the market just wants fan knots now, or is there an objective reason these super high-end brushes tend to be Fan-shaped?

This is a pretty big contrast to 10 years ago, when most brushes were bulb-shaped, and some hybrids, with fan shape knot being limited during that timeframe.

PS:  I do love how the fan knots look, I think it looks more luxurious,  but that can't be the reason I suspect.  It seems bulbs might be coming out of popularity, same as 3 band silvertip badger brushes (so Fan/or hybrid shape knots with 2-band seems to be the current market trend, from my observation)

Any info on this will be greatly appreciated!!!  

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 07-22-2020, 08:55 AM
#2
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I personally prefer bulb knots, but I think you are correct about the current trend.  Brad Sears has told me that the majority of the requests he receives are for fan knots.

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 07-22-2020, 08:55 AM
#3
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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I think hand-tied knots are easier to form as fans than bulbs.  Bulbs require really long hair fibers due to how the knot base is deformed in the forming process.  All of the hand-tied-knot artisans I know of stick to fans only (Brett Mozingo, Bradley from Black Eagle, Srdjan Daničić maker of "Rhodium" knots from Australia, Aldo from Varlet, Simpson). 
All other knots come from China.

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 07-22-2020, 09:03 AM
#4
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(07-22-2020, 08:55 AM)petropn Wrote: I personally prefer bulb knots, but I think you are correct about the current trend.  Brad Sears has told me that the majority of the requests he receives are for fan knots.

thanks for the reply!  Glad he kind of confirmed the trend we are seeing.

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 07-22-2020, 09:05 AM
#5
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(07-22-2020, 08:55 AM)Mr_Smartepants Wrote: I think hand-tied knots are easier to form as fans than bulbs.  Bulbs require really long hair fibers due to how the knot base is deformed in the forming process.  All of the hand-tied-knot artisans I know of stick to fans only (Brett Mozingo, Bradley from Black Eagle, Srdjan Daničić maker of "Rhodium" knots from Australia, Aldo from Varlet, Simpson). 
All other knots come from China.

thanks so much!  this makes a lot of sense.  Ease of knot construction for the artisans.   Appreciate your input!

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 07-22-2020, 10:21 AM
#6
  • ChiefBroom
  • Chief of Dark Holler
  • Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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I'd call most of the knots we set semi-bulbs, which as we set them typically have spheroid (ice-cream scoop shaped) tops. What I call full bulbs are more parabolic. Hybrids maintain curvature across the top, but the curve opens up to some degree across the top (more like an ellipse bisected along its major axis of symmetry). Anyhow, that's how I use the terms.

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 07-22-2020, 10:28 AM
#7
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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Imo fan knots feel bigger than comparably sized bulb knots. They are “easier” to splay, and generally feel softer in the tips. But I don’t know nothin’!

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 07-22-2020, 12:08 PM
#8
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great responses!

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 07-22-2020, 12:21 PM
#9
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I prefer fans for face lathering. Could we just have less bowl latherers today than in the past?

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

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 07-22-2020, 12:38 PM
#10
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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Here's a video from Simpson's on how they make their knots.  

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 07-22-2020, 01:21 PM
#11
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(07-22-2020, 10:28 AM)chazt Wrote: Imo fan knots feel bigger than comparably sized bulb knots. They are “easier” to splay, and generally feel softer in the tips. But I don’t know nothin’!
Signs011

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 07-22-2020, 01:53 PM
#12
  • garyg
  • Senior Member
  • Great Lakes
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Signing in with the hope that someone posts a definitive guide to what constitutes a fan, versus a hybrid, versus a bulb ..

And I know that it's a question of degree, but nor sure what distinguishes the semi bulb from the hybrid .. Lightbulb

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 07-22-2020, 02:30 PM
#13
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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My sales data kind of contradicts the trend -for Thater brushes anyway. For me, the bulbs outsell the fans by a 2:1 ratio. Go figure.

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 07-22-2020, 02:39 PM
#14
  • chazt
  • Senior Member
  • Queens, NY
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(07-22-2020, 02:30 PM)bullgoose Wrote: My sales data kind of contradicts the trend -for Thater brushes anyway. For me, the bulbs outsell the fans by a 2:1 ratio. Go figure.

Those Thater bulbs are very attractive knots  Sisi

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 07-22-2020, 03:03 PM
#15
  • ChiefBroom
  • Chief of Dark Holler
  • Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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(07-22-2020, 01:53 PM)garyg Wrote: Signing in with the hope that someone posts a definitive guide to what constitutes a fan, versus a hybrid, versus a bulb ..

And I know that it's a question of degree, but nor sure what distinguishes the semi bulb from the hybrid .. Lightbulb

I've never sought to impose my nomenclature on anyone else. We just try to use it consistently. You're right, there is a continuum, and beyond degree, there are different factors that come into play, e.g., top curvature and edge taper.

Below are three photos with text I used to describe them in emails to Lee Sabini in early 2015 and two different Chinese suppliers over the past 2 1/2 years.

1) To Lee way back when:

I'd call the one on the left a semi-bulb. It's very close to the line, though. If it were slightly more oblong, I'd describe it as a bulb. I consider the knot on the right to be a pretty good example of a hybrid. It's definitely not a fan in my view. It has too much taper.

[Image: KC_L_bulb_hybrid.jpg]

2) To a Chinese supplier based in Hong Kong in early 2018:

I would call the knot on the left a semi-bulb (nicely round with some edge); the one in the middle a hybrid (flatter across the top, but not quite a fan); and the one on the right a bulb. We would prefer to have knots that look more like semi-bulbs or hybrids. With as much backbone as these knots have, hybrid is a good shape.

[Image: Semi_bulb_hybrid_bulb.jpg]

3) To a supplier/producer in Hebei very recently in an effort to respond to questions regarding a modification I requested:

When you use the fan on your face, you will feel pressure across a large area (large circle) and there will not be much concentration of pressure near the center. This makes fans more difficult to control when lathering and applying lather. When you use the hybrid, the circle of pressure you feel against your face will be a little smaller, but it will still spread out very gradually from the center. With the semi-bulb, there will be an even smaller circle of pressure and the pressure will roll off less gradually, so there will be a more pronounced concentration near the center, especially if the hair is very springy ... or short/stiff. Finally, with the bulb shaped knot, the circle of hair/fiber you feel against your face will be much smaller and so pressure will be very concentrated.

Density will also affect area and distribution of pressure in use. If two knots are made with the same hair of the same length and free loft and in the same shape, but one is significantly more dense (more hair), assuming both are also set at the same height, the shape as set will be different and so will the behavior and feel. The denser knot will not open up as much and so pressure will be more concentrated near the center.

[Image: IMG_3218(04_23_17_17_47).jpg]

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 07-22-2020, 04:27 PM
#16
  • garyg
  • Senior Member
  • Great Lakes
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Thanks Ken, that is very helpful.  I've tried a bunch of brushes, including a number of Paladin's (back to the Chief in fact) but I always get confused by the nomenclature.  If there's a picture of a knot I know right off if I'll enjoy it, but when the knot is just described without illustration I hesitate.   Sort of a Potter Stewart approach ..   I haven't enjoyed the bulb shaped knots I've tried, nor really the one extreme fan .. the hybrid & the semi look like they'd work here

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 07-22-2020, 04:51 PM
#17
  • ChiefBroom
  • Chief of Dark Holler
  • Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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(07-22-2020, 04:27 PM)garyg Wrote: Thanks Ken, that is very helpful.  I've tried a bunch of brushes, including a number of Paladin's (back to the Chief in fact) but I always get confused by the nomenclature.  If there's a picture of a knot I know right off if I'll enjoy it, but when the knot is just described without illustration I hesitate.   Sort of a Potter Stewart approach ..   I haven't enjoyed the bulb shaped knots I've tried, nor really the one extreme fan .. the hybrid & the semi look like they'd work here

My pleasure. Sounds like we share the same preferences with regard to knot shape.

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 07-22-2020, 05:58 PM
#18
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(07-22-2020, 03:03 PM)ChiefBroom Wrote:
(07-22-2020, 01:53 PM)garyg Wrote: Signing in with the hope that someone posts a definitive guide to what constitutes a fan, versus a hybrid, versus a bulb ..

And I know that it's a question of degree, but nor sure what distinguishes the semi bulb from the hybrid .. Lightbulb

I've never sought to impose my nomenclature on anyone else. We just try to use it consistently. You're right, there is a continuum, and beyond degree, there are different factors that come into play, e.g., top curvature and edge taper.

Below are three photos with text I used to describe them in emails to Lee Sabini in early 2015 and two different Chinese suppliers over the past 2 1/2 years

Such an amazing and informative post, Ken!!!  Truly appreciate this!

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 07-23-2020, 01:58 AM
#19
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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I can't comment as to if or why artisans are making more fans but I can tell you that my personal preference for both performance and aesthetic reasons are fans, especially up to a 26mm size. At that size I like both shapes and over that I start to lean towards bulb. Plus, nobody asked but I'll put this in in anticipation,  I bowl and face lather equally and shape doesn't play into the effectiveness one way or the other. Loft and handle length is what's important.

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 07-25-2020, 07:49 AM
#20
  • BSWoodturning
  • Co-Owner, Brad Sears ShaveWorks
  • Maryland Eastern Shore
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Interesting question.  Because the majority of our business has been tied to custom work, we've found it prudent to offer Bulb, Hybrid, and Fan profiles so as to give the prospective patron maximum flexibility to tailor his brush to his personal preference. 


With Morris & Forndran brushes, the split is almost evenly divided between Bulbs and Fans with Hybrids running slightly behind (call it roughly 35/35/30% respectively).  There are some exceptions depending upon the characteristics of different batches of hair (so Lee tells me).  As just one example, the first batch of Heritage II hair worked best in a Hybrid profile only.  (The next batch could allow more flexibility.  We'll have to see.)


Conversely, with the BSSW brushes, Fans outsell Bulbs/Hybrids 10 to 1.  Go figure.


Beyond that, I can only say that we go with what the market demands.  Perhaps Aldo or Scott might weigh in.

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