W/N Sabel Brushes Can Not Get Through Customs

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on 2 Mar 2014 5:26 PM

I have tried to order Winsor Newton series 7 brushes for quite a while. Cheap Joe and Blick Art Supplies can not get shipments. I had several W/N series 7s on back order with Blick for some time. Recently they sent an email saying they could not tell when they would ever receive any shipments. They elaborated on the reason for this via telephone. People worried about the sables are holding up the shipments at customs.

The ridiculous thing about this is that the brushes are not sable. They are made from the tail hairs of the kolinsky weasel.

If the fur traders are harming the entire animal rather than harvesting the fur from the tail only, the animal-rights folks should be protesting against the Russian fur traders. Why go after the legitimate use of the kolinsky tail hairs in brush manufacture?

You may be able to find the sable brushes you need in other brands. You may find W/Ns at smaller art supply stores with a slower product turn over. FOR NOW. The animal rights people are not out to stop only Winsor Newton. They are out to stop all of the use of sable in brushes.

Now is the time for us to raise our voices in protest before one more decent thing disappears in the wake of the misguided and misinformed.

Paul

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patrickart wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 12:44 PM

yep i saw this on w/n web site last month. to me there brushes are a tad over priced. however like you say the fur huggers are going after all imports. really sad.

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on 4 Mar 2014 12:55 PM

I looked at danielsmith.com and they show:  Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinksy 4-piece box brush set for $89.95.  One each of #'s 0, 1, 2 and 3.  It is item number 261 201 004.  This was the only Windsor & Newton brushes they were showing.

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on 4 Mar 2014 2:34 PM

Valerie—

Today I received a report from a member of  "Linked In" that the Daniel Smith Co. can not get shipments of kolinski sable to make their own brand of sable brushes. Winsor Newton series 7 was the first supplier I knew having a problem importing sables to the U.S. Yesterday an artist reported that Escoda brushes from Spain could not get through customs.

Having someone say, "Oh, there's a law against using sable" isn't good enough. We have to find out who or what is behind this. It is going to take a little cooperation. At this moment we are not protesting anything. We are trying to assemble the facts.

Those of you who would like to help can do so by sending an email to your congressman—and to your senators. You can find a method of contacting them through Google. You will be able to easily locate a web page for email contact. Yesterday, I wrote my U.S. senators from Arizona, John McCain and Jeff Flake. Below is a copy of what I wrote Senator Flake. If you agree with the content, use it— modifying it as you like. Between us we may be able to arrive at the facts:

Senator Flake,

There is a problem with the importing of Winsor Newton sable watercolor brushes. Some of the largest art supply retailers in the U.S. can not receive shipments. I have been told this is because of the concerns of animal-rights groups.

Can you help us get the facts on this? Are there laws passed prohibiting the importing of sable products? Are there directives from the Commerce Department to this effect?

Actually, kolinski sable brushes are not made from sable. They are made from the tail hairs only of kolinski weasels found in Siberia. If the hair traders are harming the animals—rather than simply harvesting the tail hair— the animal rights people should protest against the Russian hair traders. Why go after the brush manufacturers?

This may seem like a silly issue when you consider the problems of our world. However it is a serious issue. America has been credited with the elevation of watercolor from the status of a color sketch to that of a painting. It has been called the "American art form." The finest watercolors of our heritage have been painted with kolinsky sable brushes. Now, for some reason, efforts are being made to deny artists this brush.

I have been a professional artist for over 50 years. For the last 13 years I have painted watercolors. Please help us get the facts on this.

Thank you,
Paul Sullivan

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on 4 Mar 2014 3:05 PM

I typed in "importing sable paint brushes" and it brought up a page that contained items from "arcane paint works blogspot.ca" and "Windsor Tech Help" who included a response from Fish and Wildlife Service, plus "US stock announcement - Windsor & Newton" and the final item on the first page "Artists Accessories and Supplies for Canadians - DL Stevenson".  These discuss what is involved with the ban, and may be part of your collection of information.

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on 4 Mar 2014 4:52 PM

Valerie—

This sounds like it could be a big help!

I have been called out of town because of an emergency. I'll be back early next week. What we need are hard facts like this. Can you document this information? Can you simply list the items by subject covered and the Internet link? This is important so others can quickly refer to the source material.

We may never be able to really correct this problem. There may be powerful political interests involved. However, I believe we should try to do what we can. If there are laws, we should know what they involve and whose interests are behind the laws. We need to know the names of the interest groups sponsoring the laws.

Gathering information is step one. Once we have a good picture of the issue, we can take the next step—addressing the source of the problem. This first step must also involve contacting our congressmen. Your representatives and senators should be contacted by email.

Good luck,

Paul

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on 4 Mar 2014 5:00 PM

Valerie / Patrick—

This is part of a response from one of the members of "Watercolor Artists Unite" on Linked In:

"...it's the US Fish and Wildlife Service that is keeping any import and exports of Kolinsky hair. Blick has the low-down on their Facebook fan page in the Notes section. For some reason CITES has the Kolinsky weasel included in their list of heavily regulated furs and hair even though it's not an endangered species."

Can you find out who CITES is? I'm not up on all the acronyms flying around.

I'd like to know who got US Fish and Game into this. Can one of you nose around on this while I'm gone?

Paul

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patrickart wrote
on 5 Mar 2014 12:49 PM

Announcement: Stocks of Kolinsky Sable affected in US retailers

 

Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Brushes Winsor & NewtonWe are sorry to inform you that Winsor & Newton and all manufacturers of natural hair paint brushes are currently experiencing difficulties importing Kolinsky Sable brushes into the United States. As a result of this, you may see a shortage in Winsor & Newton sable brushes in your local US stores towards the end of the year.

We wanted to keep you informed about this situation and also to let you know that we are working towards a solution so that your local store will receive stock as soon as possible.

Which Winsor & Newton brushes are affected?

• Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Brushes
• Winsor & Newton Artists’ Watercolour Sable Brushes
• Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II


What is causing the stock shortage?

Kolinsky Sable hair comes from the species called Mustela Siberica and the trade of its hair is managed by the provisions set out in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite the fact that Kolinsky Sable is not an endangered species and that the natural hair used for all Winsor & Newton brushes is sourced as a by-product of other industries, the trade in Kolinsky Sable hair does legally require CITES documentation.

We have always supported and adhered to CITES regulations and under European legislation we are compliant, however recent changes mean that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service are now requesting further documentation that was not previously required. Without this documentation all shipments are being prohibited.

We can also confirm that as always, natural hair brushes made by Winsor & Newton are obtained from sustainable sources and animals are not sourced for the sole use of manufacturing Winsor and Newton products.
Whilst we continue to work hard to resolve this issue we appreciate your patience and understanding and will keep you informed of any progress we make.

For your information, the announcement above was posted November 2013. Please re-visit our website for further updates.

 

 

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on 11 Mar 2014 5:51 PM

Watercolor Artists—

This entire issue could be some sort of tug-of-war. Here are the basic facts as of 3/11/14 :

Kolinsky weasels are no longer found in the Kola Peninsula of Russia near Finland. They are now hunted in Siberia and the coldest parts of northern China.

The kolinsky is not an endangered species. It is a "potentially endangered species". It has been tagged with a "Least Concern" (of extinction) lable. However, species with this rating are included in the "endangered" list. This is a form of double talk originating about May of 2003. Because of this, it is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

US Fish and Wildlife Service is our champion of CITES. As such, it is insisting that any kolinsky sable brush imports to the US include the correct CITES documentation regarding the origin of the brush hair. Brush manufacturers are trying to pressure their sources for the correct documentation. This documentation was not needed in the past. The Chinese CITES Management Authority has admitted that their CITES documentation regarding the origin of Siberian weasel hair was not issued by the appropriate organization. In frustration, there have been some complaints that the "correct" forms for the documentation do not exist.

I am beginning to think the problem may be temporary but long enough to be very frustrating.

I am continuing to research this. "Watercolor Artists Unite" is interested in helping if it can. The best thing we can do is to write our elected US representatives and senators. You will find a method of email contact through Google. If you want, use the sample letter I have posted above, modifying it as you like.

Paul

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on 11 Mar 2014 5:57 PM

Moments ago I received a phone call from the offices of Senator John McCain. A staff member confirmed the explanation I posted above. US Fish and Wildlife is insisting on the correct CITES documentation regarding the origin of the kolinsky brush hairs and at present the documentation can not be produced. She believed that the problem would be temporary. I told her that this has been an issue for at least a year already.

She went on to say that the documentation was needed because the kolinsky was an endangered species. I explained that it has been tagged as "Least Concerned" (with extinction) label—and that this tag was enough to put it on the CITES endangered list.

I explained the kolinsky sable brush was not a luxury item, that it is an essential tool in watercolor. I explained the nature of watercolor as a part of American culture.

She said the senator's office would send my letter and concerns to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I told her that I would like it to be forwarded with an endorsement from the senator.

We all must contact our people in Washington. If we do, we will get some results. These results may not solve the problem right away but we will be making ourselves heard. We will be making waves.

I sincerely believe that this could be a temporary problem but temporary may mean several years.

Paul

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