Here on Tale of Painters we have produced lots of tutorials explaining how to paint your miniatures, but we’ve never explained how to clean and look after your brushes. In this review I explain what brush cleaner and preserver is and I’ll give you the do’s and don’ts when it comes to looking after your brushes. Check it out after the jump.
What is Brush Cleaner?
It’s not to be confused with airbrush cleaner which tends to be a spray solvent designed for removing paint flecks from metal airbrushes. In fact brush cleaner is nothing more than a gentle soap. It’s made from 15% – 30% soap, 5% – 15% Ethylene Glycol and < 5% Anionic Surfacent. There is no reason you can’t use a normal bar of soap but this has been specifically designed for brushes. You can use this with Oil Paints, Watercolour, Acrylics and Stains. It’s a staple product for most artists which means it’s readily available in all good art shops. This product cost me around £5 and I bought it online.
Before I explain how to use the product, I want to give you my first tip. Before you sit down to a new paint session, change your water. Always have fresh clean water. Glass jars are great. If you’re doing a lot of metallic painting have a second jar of clean water specifically for metals. If you don’t, you could end up mixing metallic flecks floating in your water with a non metal colour.
To use the Brush Cleaner and Preserver, first wash your brush in your water pot like you’ve always done. Instead of wiping the wet brush on a tissue, take the wet brush and twist it in the soap making sure plenty of soap is worked into the bristles.
Then you can wipe off the wet, soapy substance by slowly twisting and dragging the bristles along a clean tissue or piece of kitchen towel.
This is a great way of removing every little piece of pigment from your brushes and the twisting motion will train the bristles into a point ready.
When you’re not using your brush, always ensure the supplied plastic tube is placed on the end of the brush and store your brush in pot or holder with the bristles facing upwards towards the sky.
Now for the important don’ts.
The metal part of a brush which holds the bristles is called a ferule. Inside the ferule is glue holding the bristles. You should NEVER get paint anywhere near the metal ferule. It is very difficult to remove paint from the ferule and once paint is in there and it dries your bristles will ‘fish tail’ and split and you will not be able to train a point on the brush.
For this reason if you use a brush to move paint from a pot to a palette for mixing colours or watering down, use an old brush or a cheap £1 shop brush. Don’t use your best brushes for this because it’s hard not to get paint in the ferule when moving huge globs of paint.
You’ve seen it in the movies, when an actor finishes painting their master piece they throw their brush into a water pot for dramatic effect. NEVER leave your brush in a water pot upside down. It curls the bristle tips into a hook. Also, NEVER clean your brush with hot water. It melts the glue in the ferule and loosens the bristles.
NEVER use your best brushes for dirty jobs like drybrushing or painting base rims. It’s a quick way to destroy a finely honed point on a brush. Never use your best brushes for applying glue to bases. The Brush Cleaner and Preserver will not remove glue from bristles.
NEVER lick your brush tip into a point. Your saliva is made up enzymes designed for softening and breaking up food. Your saliva will soften and destroy your bristles. Also NEVER use a solvent to clean your brush. The solvent will damage your bristles and melt the glue holding them together.
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