Did you know the average crafter spends about $65.00 on brushes each
year? That's a lot of money, so you need to purchase the right brushes
and make them last as long as possible. Here are a few tidbits of
information that may save you a lot of money on brushes in the long
There is an old saying that, "the job is only as good as the tools
you use". This holds true for so many things, especially when you
are painting ceramics. Any project you do is only as good as the
brushes used. If you are not using a high quality brush your items
will turn our mediocre at best, and that is not what we strive
for. Each of us paints to create attractive items everyone will
envy, items we will be proud to display in our home, give as
gifts, or even sell in studios. In order to achieve this, you
must learn how to choose the proper brush, and how to care
for your brushes so they continue to produce the results you
To select the proper brush you must consider a few different
things. You must decide on the proper size, the material of the
brush, and what style of painting used. The size of your brush
must fit your project. If you are base coating you should use the
largest brush possible, for trim work you should adjust between
various sizes, determined by the width and intricacy of what you
are painting. When painting eyes only the finest brush with sharp
point should be used.
The material the brush is made of is equally important.
Sable hair has long been the preferred material for premium
brushes. Brushes of sable hair have superior spring and snap
to them along with the ability to retain great amounts of
fluid. They also are known for retaining a needle like point
and sharp chiseled edges. When painting with this type of
brush you will find you are able to produce smooth strokes or
subtle blending of colors with greater ease than other types
of brushes. There are a few drawbacks to sable brushes though.
First off is the price, this type of brush is quite expensive.
Second is they do not last very long when used hard, so if you
are producing a lot of items you will find yourself going
through quite a few brushes.
A good substitute for sable is synthetic taklon, its
spring and absorbency is very comparable to, if not superior
to sable. Either the golden taklon or white taklon has very
sharp points and shards with chiseled edges. The synthetic
fibers are very durable resisting breakage. Most any paint can
be used with taklon. Clean up is easy and you can purchase
these brushes with a variety of handles from kiln dried wood
to water resistant plastic. We have found Taklon to be much
more economical and durable than sable.
A drybrush is another important tool in a painters kit. Most dry
brushes are made of stiff bristles and are white in color. The brush
should be fluffy and have a good snap when you run your fingers
across the bristles. These brushes do wear out quickly if you do a
lot of dry brushing, so select one with long bristles to get extra
You can pay a lot of money for your brushes, but if you
do not care for them properly they can become worthless in a
short period of time. So lets go over a few rules for caring
for your brushes that will give your brushes a longer life.
- Never allow paint to dry on the bristles.
- Never allow your brushes to soak in water.
- Always store brushes with the bristles up, never put
brushes away point first.
- Lava bar hand soap makes a good cleaner for brushes,
gently stroke bristles back and forth across the bar to pick
up soap. Then massage gently to loosen paint. After cleaning
gently reshape your brush to its original shape.
- Never pounce the brush up and down in your water. This
will cause the bristles to separate and your brush will be
- When using brushes to apply sparkle paint or granite
stone apply a few drops of fabric softener to your brush
before you begin painting. This will release the small
particles that remain in the bristles.
- Make sure your brushes are dry before storing.
- Always reshape your brush after cleaning.
- When using oil based antiquing clean your bristles in
solvent or mineral spirits.
- Keep brushes for oil based paint separate and use
only for oil based paints.
- Glazing brushes should also be kept separate and not
used for any other mediums.
- Clear glazed brushes should be kept separate from other
glazed brushes and should only be used to apply clear glazes
in order to avoid contamination
- Red glaze brushes also contaminate easily and should be
used and stored in the same manner as clear glaze brushes.
If you adhere to these guidelines you will find that your
brushes will last significantly longer, and the quality of
your work will greatly improve.
Dolly & Ernie Ceramics is a proud sponsor of this venerable craft.
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