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My wife got me a nice set of brushes for Christmas.  Aside from two she got me a few years ago, I have never had nice brushes before.

 

I have never properly learned how to care for brushes, but would like to do that now.

 

What resources are out there? What should I buy?

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You will needa gentle soap for cleaning.  Master’s Brush Soap, available at art supply stores, is excellent. A mild bar soap like Ivory is okay too, in my experience.

 

No detergent!

 

Keep brushes stored on their sides or upright, hair end up. Do not let them sit on their hair ends in water. Do not let paint get up into the ferrule (the metal collar that holds the hairs to the handle).

 

A bamboo sushi roll mat makes a good, well-ventilated holder for brushes. Lay them on it, roll up and tie snugly for storage.

 

Keep working brushes damp. Change your rinse water often. Wash brushes at the end of your painting session with tepid water. Stroke the brush on the soap a couple of times, then massage it gently through the hairs with your fingertips from base to tip. It is okay to “strop”the brush across your palm a few times. Do not shove the hairs backwards or scrub. Rinse. Do this until no color tints the soap suds.

 

Some people like to use a hair conditioner on their brushes. If you do, give them a good swish in clean water before painting.

 

 

 

 

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If you ever get paint in the ferrule, and it gets stuck in there, you'll need a liquid brush cleaner like W&N Brush Cleaner and Restorer.  Truth is, I haven't used this cleaner on my good brushes to my knowledge, but it comes in handy on the older brushes that get treated more harshly and sometimes end up with paint where it shouldn't be.  Don't let this kind of cleaner touch lacquer brush handles because it can strip the lacquer off.  

 

If you rinse your brushes frequently as you paint, I've found The Masters soap and Pink Soap don't always remove visible paint from the hairs.  I still use them at the end of most painting sessions, but I often wonder how much good they're doing.

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44 minutes ago, Serenity said:

If you ever get paint in the ferrule, and it gets stuck in there, you'll need a liquid brush cleaner like W&N Brush Cleaner and Restorer.  Truth is, I haven't used this cleaner on my good brushes to my knowledge, but it comes in handy on the older brushes that get treated more harshly and sometimes end up with paint where it shouldn't be.  Don't let this kind of cleaner touch lacquer brush handles because it can strip the lacquer off.  

 

If you rinse your brushes frequently as you paint, I've found The Masters soap and Pink Soap don't always remove visible paint from the hairs.  I still use them at the end of most painting sessions, but I often wonder how much good they're doing.

 

Certain dye-based pigments will permanently stain artificial brush hairs. Phthalocyanine Blue and Green are notorious for this.

 

Even if the brush hairs have been turned bright green, as long as the soap suds have no tint of green when you wash the brush, it is perfectly clean.

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8 minutes ago, Pingo said:

Even if the brush hairs have been turned bright green, as long as the soap suds have no tint of green when you wash the brush, it is perfectly clean.

When I do a thorough cleaning of my brushes (which is often, even within a single paint session), I know if my brushes are clean enough by whatever is coming out of the suds when I swirl my brush in the brush cleaner. It it's all white, it's clean; if it's the colour of whatever I used in the last hours, I rinse and repeat.

 

Reading past comments on brush care, I realize I don't need to do it that often.

Edited by Cranky Dog

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Best way to keep 'em in shape: Don't use them. ::D: Have a set of natural brushes for priming, gap filling, undercoats, basecoating, washing, etc. Save your best brushes for details and fixing mistakes. And, at least for advanced tabletop, don't fix mistakes until you're at the detail stage!

 

Use two rinse disposable rinse cups. When you paint metallic, use the first one only, then get rid of it after use.

 

Get some coffee stirrers and cut them up for use as brush protectors. You can dry brushes without needed to stand them upside-down, but its easy to stand them upside-down with the coffee stirrer thingie.

 

I prefer the liquid Pink Soap over the Master's Brush Soap because I'm lazy. ::D: Just dip and stick in the coffee stirrer. Haven't had any problems because...

 

Stand up and stretch after periods of sitting down. So stand up in the bathroom to clean those brushes! Have a rinse cup with some hand soap to clean the brushes. Repeatedly roll them in paper towels until no paint shows. Hand soap is easily available as that liquid gunk in the soap dish. Do a thorough job. Go brush and floss your teeth while you're at it. :lol:

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So, yeah, soap. 

 

The best advice - don't overload your brush with paint.  That is, don't submerge all the bristle in paint, because it will get stuck in the ferrule and you'll have a devil of a time trying to get it out.  Eventually it dries there and starts to splay out the bristles, destroying the point of the brush.

 

Try not to drybrush with your good brushes.  Drybrushing is rough treatment. Imagine running your hand over sandpaper - that's what drybrushing does to your brush (although on a micro level).

 

Here's another trick - you don't have to use your best brushes for everything.  I have cheap brushes from a big-box store that I paid something like $8 for, got a pack of twelve, and can use them for 80% of my painting.  Basecoating, drybrushing, base and grunt work . . . I usually use those brushes.  I save the good brushes for the details, the targeted glazes, the eyes and tattoos. 

 

And never, ever, leave your paint brush standing in your rinse water.

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I usually keep them flat, but there are people who say there's no need to worry about clean brushes drying with the bristles pointing up. 

 

You can get a brush-holder that grabs onto the shaft and hold is securely above the cup or something...  

(just take a piece of foam, cut slots in it slightly narrower than the shaft of a brush, and stick it to the side of something.)

 

 

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4 hours ago, Guyscanwefocusplease said:

If you're not supposed to store paint brushes bristle "up" when drying, how do you store them?

 

Winsor & Newton actually recommends to dry your brushes bristles up: Winsor & Newton: Care and cleaning of brushes

 

"With water colour and acrylic brushes, it is important to remove excess water, dry ferrules and handles, reshape brush heads and rest them with the bristles facing upwards to dry off."

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I've been drying my brushes bristles-up for years.  Water will wick up into the ferrule through capillary action, not gravity, so I'm not worried about damaging the brush if I store it upwards.  I also store some downwards - I've got some foam pipe insulation that I've clipped on to a shelf, and sliced to allow me to stick a brush into it.  Convenient for the cheap brushes I use for basecoat and basing.

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