The Japanese and Scandinavians have been using brushes to scrub the body prior to a hot, cleansing bath for decades. A Finnish doctor, Paavo Airola, even prescribed the brushing of skin to patients as a skin stimulant and detoxifier. This brush will smoothe and exfoliate, but it's not just for dry skin. The horsehair bristles are known for making a generous lather with soap. A Swedish company makes this brush from oiled oak wood and horsehair, a fiber known for its resilience and softness on skin. A visually impaired craftsman painstakingly attaches the bristles to the wooden handle with stainless steel wire, which is woven in and out of the handle to secure the bristles in place. The brush’s manufacturer, Iris Hantverk, started out in 1975, but its original history stretches back to 1889 with the opening of the Swedish Blind Association. The association prioritized vocational training for visually impaired adults, training them to weave baskets and make brushes, among other crafts. Today, a team of 30 visually impaired craftsmen make the brushes at Iris Hantverk. The handle of this brush is made of oiled oak from local forests in the southeast of Sweden. The horse fiber is woven with wefts of tail hair that come from live horses in Argentina and Russia. The hair is taken only from live horses, because their hair is lush and elastic. The hair is then washed, combed, cooked, dried and stacked by hand. Each craftsman learns the brush making craft through a 6 month training period with a master before they start production. Most of the craftsmen in the workshop today have been making brushes for more than 10 years.
The brush is easy to clean with warm water and mild soap. Stand it on its bristles to dry and keep the wood from splitting. Oil as needed with mineral oil.
Iris Hantverk is a non-profit, Swedish organization that began making high quality, handmade household items in the nineteenth century. The company uses all natural materials: handles are usually made of oak, beech, or birch, while bristles are often made of horsehair, Tampico fiber, goat hair, or piassava (bass) fibers. Beauty and brawn is the company's prevailing ethos. Iris Hantverk is made up of around 30 members, and each brush is crafted by hand using century old Swedish construction techniques.
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