Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brushes 2

To the left you see my brush wallet, I had to extend it with duct tape, I have no idea why they would manufacture a brush wallet too short for long handled brushes, but there's my remedy. That allows me to put my brushes into my backpack without them getting trashed.
Next to that is a can of house painters' brush cleaner.You get this at the painters supply store, not your local hobby shop. This is an outdoor toy as the label explains it contains acetone, methanol, methylene chloride, toluene and xylene. No wonder it works so well!
This is not how I clean my brushes daily, but when the paint gets dried in them, or someone throws away a handful of brushes. I pour some into a jar and then I swish the afflicted brush around in there, scrape the bristles on its rim, cap up the jar and clean the bristles on a paper towel. I let the paint that drops out of the brushes settle out onto the bottom of the jar I don't throw any of this stuff away, I use it up. I leave that towel outside until the nasty chemicals have evaporated. If you are a pregnant woman, or given to a whole foods kind of lifestyle, this stuff is probably not for you. I don't wash my brushes in the sink with soap every night, in fact I never never wash brushes. I did when I was young, now I just clean them off in my thinner can and they will be fine tomorrow. Since I use them every day, they never really harden up. I am probably shortening their lives somewhat, but I am extending mine. Goop, a mechanics' hand cleaner, available at the auto supply store is a great brush cleaner and the lanolin in it softens the bristles a little as well.. Goop also works to take oi paint l off your hands out on location when there is no running water, don't get the kind with pumice in it, as that leaves grit on your hands unless you have a way to rinse them. Goop is on my list of a wonderproducts. In time more of this list will be revealed.
Here you see two brushes, the one on the left is not artists quality, it is a hobbyists brush. Notice how the hair sticks straight out of the ferule? You don't want that. On the left is an artists brush. It has a wide middle and tapers to its tip, in a flame shape. Hair that grows out of a hog is curved, if all those curves are turned inwards the brush has spring, thats essential and holds a load of paint nicely in its "belly" that's what the middle is called.
I think of brushes as being Popsicle sticks. I wear them out quickly, particularly the small ones and throw them out when they no longer give a crisp mark. I meet students in workshops who haven't got a single usable brush in their quiver, although they have fifty ruined ones. What kind of workman would show up on a job site with his tools in such a state? Much less let me see them? You have to have brushes that still have an edge to them, did you ever try to carve a roast with a spatula?. As I have said before, painting is hard enough to do with the best of materials


Mary Bullock said...

I am guilty as charged. I buy cheap brushes and use them until they are just nubs. Maybe that is half my problem. I have occasionally bought some good brushes, but they get paint dried in them and get hard. That is a great tip about the goop and the house painters' brush cleaner- I think I'll try to save them with your good advice.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I buy median priced brushes. Use Jerrys or Kalish. The Robert Simmons are not terribly expensive. If you don't scrub with them,
and I do, they will last along time.I know people who have brushes for years. I am lucky to have a brush for a week, unless it is a 6 or larger, The big brushes last much longer.......Stape