Some paint brushes require people to transport plastic, wood, or fibers for bristles to a paint-brush factory in a tractor trailer (aka semi-truck). The tractor trailers burn fossil fuels. If the paint brush is used in the United States and manufactured in China, then ships burn diesel fuel carrying the brushes across the ocean.

I did not intend to lecture. If we move on with the discussion, just assume that someone might want a paint brush containing no plastic parts, metal parts, etc.

How would an arts & craft enthusiast create their own environmentally friendly ("green"?) paint brush, which harms plants and/or animals less than a store-bought brush (relatively speaking)?

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    It seems you're asking for an entire tutorial, which isn't the best fit for the Stack Exchange network. Have you looked around for information or tried making them before you asked it here?
    – Joachim
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 22:56
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    Brush making - especially for art - has always been the job of specialized masters. And traditionally only animal hair was used for paint brushes because plant fibers just don't work as well. IMO it's very unrealistic for a layperson to make paint brushes that actually work. The best you could probably achieve is a very stiff brush for cave paintings or a similar level of detail.
    – Elmy
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 10:34
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    Just for clarification: how do you expect your DIY brushes to perform? Do you want to paint realistic portraits with them? Bob Ross landscapes? Abstract art that consists only of lines, patterns and texture? And do you have access to animals like horses or goats where you could source hairs ethically without harming the animals?
    – Elmy
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 7:16
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    Metal jointing is common at all price points, with good reason. But it could probably be fine with reclaimed materials, for something far more useful than gluing bristles into a hollow handle. Anyway you'd need to consider your source of glue, if you're trying to avoid using plastics.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 11:44
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    What have you tried so far?
    – robline
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The following is one approach for making paint brushes which are more environmentally-friendly than factory-made plastic handled brushes (relatively speaking).

However, the use of such a brush is limited in scope to one of the following two applications:

  1. Making minimalist line contour drawings (e.g. a black outline of

  2. drawings of grass or other plants.

I recommend using the spiny leaves of yucca glauca or yucca baccata as a paint-brush.



animated gif demonstrating how to paint with a yuuca leaf or other dry stiff piece of environmentally friendly alternative to a factory made paint brush

complete grass background

After completing a grassy background, foreground objects such as animals and/or people can be painted on a separate sheet of paper and glued on top of the background.

In the images shown above, iron oxide concrete colorant was used as paint, but this post is mostly about how to make a paint-brush, not make your own paint.

Some species of yucca have stiff leaves and other species of yucca have soft leaves.

I recommend not using yucca leaves if they look or feel floppy, such as the leaves of the soft-leafed spineless cane yucca or yucca gigantea.

Yuccas with stiff leaves (such as yucca baccata) are low-water use plants which grow easily in localities with less than 40 inches of annual rainfall or other precipitation. If you have a house, you can easily grow one in your front or backyard for a renewable supply of paint brushes.

I live in the state of Colorado, USA. I find yuccas growing wild all of the time when walking outside, but they live in California, and other places too.

  • That is not a brush, it is a stylus.
    – rebusB
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 14:08
  • @rebusB You are correct about a stylus not being the same as a paint brush. The phrases "Is a stylus" and "is not a stylus" have the flavor of boolean logic or black and white thinking. Black and white thinking is a useful tool somtimes, but there exist times where pairwise comparisons are a more useful model for English words. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 18:23
  • @rebusB A mental model in which the world is painted in various shades of grey is somtimes more useful than a binary black and white mental model of the world. Rather than saying that somthing is a house or is not a house we can say that a mobile home is more like a house than an umbrella. This is similair to how frying pans are more useful for cooking grilled cheese sandwhiches than phillips head screwdrivers are for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. When choosing a paint brush or stylus, let us try to choose the too which best meets our objectives. Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 18:27
  • If you are going to use your own definitions of things, then it makes little sense to ask others advice on how to make said things.
    – rebusB
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:47

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