Preparing New Brushes
Your new brushes have had the bristles ‘sized’ with gum arabic solution during the manufacturing process. This is a starch-like substance which stiffens and hardens the brush tip to protect its shape and condition during shipping. It must be washed off prior to first time use.
- Gum arabic is soluble in water, so simply swirl your new brush around in a jar of fresh water, then wipe the brush on paper towel to blot up any excess moisture. You may wish to repeat this process a couple times to ensure all the gum arabic is removed.
- As part of the normal manufacturing process there may be stray hairs present in new brushes. To remove these prior to using your brush with paint for the first time, simply grasp the wet brush tip between thumb and forefinger, then squeeze along its length, from ferrule to tip. Re-wet the brush and repeat a number of times to remove as many strays as possible.
- After you have thoroughly cleaned off any gum arabic and removed any stray hairs, gently dry your brush with a soft cloth or absorbent paper. If necessary, reshape your brush to its original condition, then lay flat to dry.
For watercolors and other water-based media:
- Simply rinse the brush in clean water. If your rinsing water has taken on the color of your paints, discard and replace with fresh water until the rinse water remains colorless and your brushes are clean.
- You may wish to use a commercial brush cleaner (or even mild soap) – if so, ensure that the brush is rinsed in fresh water after cleaning to remove any traces of the soap or cleaner as well.
- Rinse the brush in suitable solvent until all of the color is removed. Wipe the brush on a cloth or paper towel then repeat until all color is removed. When buying new paint media, always ensure you read the label carefully to confirm you have the correct solvents to clean your brushes.
General Brush Care Tips
The adoption of good brush-cleaning and maintenance habits will substantially improve the life and performance of your brushes.
- Always clean your brushes immediately after painting. Do not let paint sit on the brush or dry in the hairs.
- Always re-shape the brush to its original condition after every use.
- Never leave brushes standing upright in a jar of water or solvent. This may irreversibly damage the brush tip and shape.
- Try not to soak wooden handled brushes. This may cause water absorption by the handle, leading to cracking of the wood and possible loosening of the ferrule. Always dry the handle after use and cleaning.
- If using cake type paints, avoid coarse scrubbing so as to prevent the paint working its way up into the ferrule and causing permanent damage.
- When using the canvas roll-up bag to store your brushes, ensure brushes are completely clean and dry prior to storage. Carefully locate the brushes into their pockets and roll the bag loosely so as to prevent them being squashed out of shape.
- You may wish to consider purchasing a brush conditioner for natural bristle brushes. This will prevent the bristles from drying out and breaking.