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In memory of my original brushes


TKD
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Saturday was the last day I painted with my original brushes. When I got back into painting in 1999, I went out to my local AC Moore and picked up some primer, some paints, and four brushes. Saturday night, almost at the same time, two of them finally gave out. I pulled the bristles and broke the handles to make sure I would not be tempted to try and revive them again.

 

The brushes were my Nicole 10/0 Round and Nicole 0 Round. That leaves only my 5/0 liner and 10/0 liners still semi-intact 4 years later. Neither of the two liners is useful for lining anymore, so I moved them to my "magic wash and inking" pile.

 

These brushes cost me $0.99 each, but between the four of them (especially the 10/0 round) they helped me paint around 120 miniatures...probably more. They finally gave out...the years of accumulated grit (it was months before I got good brush cleaner and learned how to keep the ferrule free of paint), wear (endless painting), and general use finally took their toll. Heck, they lasted 4 years (!) and until the past couple of months they still had straight, sharp bristles. If the ferrule glue hadn't finally started to let go, I might still be using them.

 

So, I replaced them. I bought myself two brushes - a Loews-Cornell 000 Golden Taklon round (50% off made it $1.90) and my big splurge - a W&N Series 7 size 0 for $17.75. I wanted a 00, but the store only had one 0 and one 1...and finding a store with any Series 7s at all took a lot of phone calls.

 

All I can say is - very nice. The W&N is really nice, worth the money. It makes an excellent "main brush", with the L-C 3/0 working well for details and tight areas. I also use a 20/0 I bought in 2000 for painting ultra-fine detail, and - ahem - some chopped-off plastic children's brushes (10/$1) for drybrushing and heavy washes.

 

Looking back I am glad I started with my $0.99 brushes. The newer brushes cost many times what the old ones did, but frankly starting me out with a W&N Series 7 when I still had no idea what I was doing would have been wasted. Having painted for years with "good enough" brushes taught me a lot. Not the least of what I learned was exactly what I want and need from a brush. When I got the L-C and the W&N I knew exactly what I wanted from them - how long of a handle, point width, spotter vs. liner vs. round vs. flat, and so on. Even a year ago I would not have known precisely which brushes to buy. On reflection I think I will still give the same advice to new painters that I got - get a handful of "good enough" in various sizes, and figure out what kind of brush suits you. Like when I started out fishing with a Zebco Snoopy Fishing Kit...and moved on a year or two later to a rod I still use 20 years later...Once you are sure of what you want, get something really good. Waiting 4 years for new brushes might be a bit extreme, though.

 

Anyway, I just though I would share a fun milestone.

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So long as you take care of your brushes they should last a good long time. I've got some brushes I've had for close to 15 years now. Sure, there have been long periods where I haven't painted, but I always clean my brushes.

 

In fact I normally have three seperate rinses: the first one has some brush cleaner added to it, the second is plain water as is the third. I'll thoroughly clean the brush in the first rinse, swirl it in the second rinse to get all the brush cleaner off, and then the third rinse is to make certain all the brush cleaner is off. This way I don't start painting on my mini in a new color and end up wiping away all the paint because there's brush cleaner on my brush. I might go through a lot of brush cleaner this way, but my brushes will last a good long time.

 

Also, I try to clean my brushes in straight brush cleaner after every session, especially if I've been painting all day, then I let them dry after reforming the point and capping it off. I end up not mixing paints into each other (especially the lighter colors) and I don't end up with rainbow hues on the mini in places I don't want it.

 

And when you're shelling out $8-$20 for a single brush, you really do expect it to last longer than one mini.

 

Cheap brushes I really abuse though, leaving them soaking in water, pushing on the hairs to get paint into crevasses (for basing) and such, although I have a nice Testors brush I use for glue that has very soft bristles that cleans very well.

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I clean all of my brushes thoroughly. I keep two jars of water handy when I paint - one for rinsing paint-filled brushes off, and another of pure water used to wet brushes. I take a brush, swish it around in the pure water jar, dip it in paint, and use it. When I am done (or periodically if I am using the same color alot) I swish the brush in the "rinse" water until it comes clean, then swish it in the water, and then dry it on a paper towel before setting it aside.

 

When I am good and done, I swish each brush in W&N Brush Cleaner, then in the pure water, then wash it in Master's Brush Cleaner, then swish it in the pure water again. Repeat if I think it is necessary. I do this with all of my brushes (even my $0.10 children's brushes I use for drybrushing and really abusive tasks). I pretty much avoid abusing any of my brushes unless I really have to.

 

The good brushes I just got get the same treatment - if I could extend the life of $0.99 brushes for 4 years this way (although using the W&N each time is new, I just started using that stuff) I think I can keep my Series 7 going for the rest of my life.

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I can keep my brushes going a good long while.  Basically I wash them after use with warm soapy water then rinse them well with warm water and reform the tips and leave them tip up in my brush container.  Some of them I also cap depending on what I use them for.  They seem to last a good long while this way for me.
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...and my big splurge - a W&N Series 7 size 0 for $17.75. I wanted a 00, but the store only had one 0 and one 1...

First thing first... congrats on your milestone and my sympathies for your loss  :D

 

Now then.... I think you'll find that that W&N Series 7 Size 0 will serve you like no other brush. Be gentle, keep it clean, and give it loads of love and it'll be your baby. Despite owning a couple of other W&N brushes, including some Series 7 Miniatures, I do all of my painting with my regular W&N Series 7 Size 0 -- detail work and all. The point is simply amazing. I love the brush. Love it. I wish I had some kind of altar for it. It deserves a pedestal, but I've never found anything fitting.  :)

 

At any rate, enjoy your new brush(es).

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I have to say that I did start out with better brushes than say cheapNicole brand ones.  I find that Loew Cornell brand American Painter brushes are good, I can get a wide variety of small sizes, and if one takes good care of them the taklon fibers last a very long time.  The ones that get worn out I retire to the drybrushing/washing pile.  These brushes are also decent in price.  Roughly $2.50 or so to $5 for the sizes I use.
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