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Your technique(s) for keeping your fine hobby paint brushes properly pointed?

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Your technique(s) for keeping your fine hobby paint brushes properly pointed?
Posted by chutton01 on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 11:09 AM

Because I could use some hints.

No matter if you use spray paint, air-brushes, markers and so on, eventually if you do a lot of detail painting you use fine (000, 5/0, etc) hobby paint brushes. The key of course is to keep that tip nicely pointed/shaped...and I continue to keep missing that that key after all theses years. Since such brushes ain't cheap, this is a big fat bummer

I do:
   Store the Paint brushes tip up
   Gently dip the brush in the paint and cleaner (meaning - I don't smash it against the bottom)
   Select decent brushes which should be fine for enamel/lacquers (which I use for fine detail work)
   When done with a color, clean the brush, gently wipe and roll on a paper towel, and try to reshape the brush tip with my fingers.

No matter, sooner rather than later that brush tip starts to look raggedy, with individual bristles sticking out here and there. At that point, yeah I can reshape the tip again, but after dipping in paint the tip loses it's shape and returns to ragged form.

Suggestions welcome, please.

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Posted by jerryl on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:07 PM

After many uses, even with careful cleaning paint migrates to the base of the bristles & forces them apart. You can try soaking them in solvent for a few days & see if that loosens the paint. I also shape them & coat the tip with white glue & allow them to stay that way as long as i can & that sometimes "trains" them back into position. Just use hot water to dissolve the glue when you are ready to use them.

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Posted by CTValleyRR on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:48 PM

Well, all brushes eventually wear out with age, and will have to be replaced, no matter what you do.  Here are a couple of my best practices:

  1. Never leave the brush standing on it's bristles, even for a moment.
  2. Never let paint dry on the brush.
  3. After cleaning, use a brush cleaner / reconditioner (I use Mona Lisa Pink Soap, available at art supply stores).  Dip the clean brush in the full strength product, shape the point with your fingers, and store the brush in the upright position (standing on the handle)
  4. Never store brushes anywhere something heavy (like a jar of paint) can lean against the bristles.  This will crease them.

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Posted by mokenarr on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 8:56 PM

 I use a product from Micheals Craft store called Pink Soap . I f you use enamels etc after cleaning with cleaner , pour a bit of the Pink soap in your hand and gently get the cleaner off , rinse your hand and the brush and pour a little bit more Pink soap in your hand, roll the brush in a line in your palm to shape the brush and you are done , do not wipe the Pink soap off the brush, lay it on its side to dry without the bruch part touching anything, then store it point up .  When you go to use it next it will be a bit stiff , just gently brush your hand and it will be good

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Posted by Graham Line on Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:24 PM

After a rinse in water or thinner to clear out the paint, I use "The Master's Brush Cleaner and Preserver #100" found at an art supply store.

It's some kind of a soft soap/conditioner in a beige plastic tub and cleans up brushes uses with oils, watercolors and acrylics.  Dampen the brush, roll it around in the tub to lather it up, then squeeze out the excess and store.  Mfr is General Pencil Co.  in Jersey City NJ.

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Posted by chutton01 on Thursday, October 11, 2012 3:26 PM

Next time I am in Michaels or Dick Bicks (sadly they closed Pearl's† Long Island stores in a rather poorly thought out business retrenchment), I will look into the "soap" products mentioned (the white glue suggestion - I'm not brave enough for that).  With good fine brushes running $4.00 or more, I want to keep those brush tip points properly shaped for as much usage as possible.

†One relevant cartoon that was prominently displayed by the art brushes in their second East Meadow incarnation (near Zachary's and the Home Depot) portrayed the "dangers" of retipping your paintbrush by licking it - something I never had any inclination to do.

‡Micromark doesn't seem to be much cheaper for good brushes, nor does Michaels, nor Blick's - and A.C. Moore doesn't seem to have any really fine brushes at all (Michaels didn't really either, until Pearl closed, and then the local Michaels took up the slack a bit), and Long Island is Hobby-Lobby free...

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Posted by NP2626 on Friday, November 7, 2014 9:02 AM

Don't have a Michaels' near by and don't need what they sell, anyway:  Depending on the type of paint used, I will use either Mineral Spirits, or water to clean a brush.  I will agitate the brush in either water or spirits and brush on a rag; or, paper towel to dry, inspect and repeat the process, generally 3 times.  If Spirits I will fan the brush against an upright corner to remove as much spirits as possible.  Then for both, I will take into the bathroom and rub on a bar of soap, under tap water then rub against the bar until I get some lather, repeat and once I get nice clean lather like shaving cream, I will rinse all the soap out and again fan against an upright corner to dry.  This leaves the brush thoroughly cleaned, dry and like new.  I may wrap in a paper towel to shape the bristles, if I feel it is necessary. 

The above process has worked excellent for me for 25 years, since I started using the process.

 

NP 2626 "Northern Pacific, really terrific"

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Posted by rrebell on Friday, November 7, 2014 10:18 AM

The main thing to do is to not get paint near the base of the hairs, you can never compleatly clean there. Also repoint your brushes after you clean them while still wet. Brushs are cheap at many places including the good ones. You can get cheap sable brushs (not realy sable).  Last you don't need the very best brushes, you are proubly not a master watercolor artist (yes I have credentials, not that I used them much as the arts are not lucrative for most and I chose an easier path). 

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, November 7, 2014 10:46 AM

I didn't realize this thread would reactivate when I posted a link in the other PollyS replacement thread, but no matter, the more info the better.

Anyway, I more or less follow NP2626's methods except I don't currently wash with soap after a painting session (it seems soap is more or less an equivalent of the pink craft store stuff mentioned in previous posts). Sounds like I should try, since I just purchased some new brushes.

rrebell
Brushs are cheap at many places including the good ones. You can get cheap sable brushs (not realy sable).  Last you don't need the very best brushes, you are proubly not a master watercolor artist

Now, the brushes I tend to use are not the super top-of-the line $18.00+ ones you can get, but more in the range of 4.00-5.00, which is still rather pricey, so I don't want to waste them. However, I still haven't found cheap Michael's economy brush sets (with the pale blue transculent handles) - which actually work surprizing well - in sizes 000 and below - I require such a fine size when painting figures or repairing small "tics" (as Dr. Cranky would say) in a air-brushed finish. If I could get a six-pack of 5/0 in economy style (6.00 a pack), that would be cool. And no, I'm not going to be skinning any cats to make fine brushes like a certain monk we know does.

To update this thread with one last relevant post from the PollyS replacment thread:

That's the right way to do it.  It's worked for me for a long time.  Works on the big brushes I use to paint the house and the small brushes I use on HO models.  "Mineral Spirits" is sold under the name "Paint Thinner" in hardware stores, and under the name "Charcoal Lighter Fluid" in grocery stores.
One other minor point.  You need lacquer thinner to clean lacquer (Floquil for example) out of brushes.  Mineral spirits isn't active enough to dissolve lacquer, Lacquer thinner is much more active than mineral spirits. 

I use lacquer thinner outside (maximum ventilation) when airbrushing, but not inside when brush painting - there I use mineral spirits.  I guess because the ventilation at the work bench is good, but not incredible, and I worry some about fumes. Another reason why acrylics are looking better to me...

rrebell
The main thing to do is to not get paint near the base of the hairs, you can never compleatly clean there.

Sadly, paint is darn-near guarenteed to get near the base of the bristle whenever I use an artist brush.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, November 7, 2014 12:39 PM

I wash mine with the same foaming hand soap I use for my hands and that seems to be working. 

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Friday, November 7, 2014 3:17 PM

Once clean and dry, I just run them thru my lips with a little spit and set them upright and let them dry. It keeps a nice point on them, no mess no fuss, it's been working for me for 50 years. This is what many artists do which is where I got the idea.

Jay 

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, November 7, 2014 3:31 PM

modelmaker51
Once clean and dry, I just run them thru my lips with a little spit and set them upright and let them dry. It keeps a nice point on them, no mess no fuss, it's been working for me for 50 years. This is what many artists do which is where I got the idea.


See my post above from two years ago:
One relevant cartoon that was prominently displayed by the art brushes in their [Pearl Paint] second East Meadow incarnation (near Zachary's and the Home Depot) portrayed the "dangers" of retipping your paintbrush by licking it - something I never had any inclination to do.

Of course it doesn't really apply in your case because you are the only one licking your brushes (unless you get your cat or dog to do it).

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Posted by zstripe on Friday, November 7, 2014 6:42 PM

Some bruhes I have are over 40yrs old. I clean them in nothing but Lacquer thinner, when thoroughly clean,I put them in my mouth, bring to a point and I slip a piece of clear plastic tube over the end past the point and metal base. Store them laying flat in a wood case I made with a snap lock lid on it,for brushes only. You can get different sizes of clear flex tubing, if You do a little searching. Air brush siphon tubes are one source. As far as paint drying in the nap. Don't want to get in a deep discussion...but you're using the brush incorrectly. Soak in Lacquer thinner with just the tip of brush and nap suspended in it. Clear glass jar, with a hole poked into a piece of carboard suspended over the jar opening. Let sit awhile and it should take care of that, even if it was like that for awhile, the Lacquer thinner will work.

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, November 7, 2014 9:08 PM

Like Frank, I clean my brushes with lacquer thinner, although I'll occasionally use methyl hydrate for acrylic paints, followed by lacquer thinner.  Some of them are more than 40 years old, too.  I've sometimes done the brush-in-mouth step, too, and it does work.

What puzzles me though, is for what everybody is using small pointy-tipped brushes?  About all I use them for is small details on figures or when doing hand lettering.  For most model painting, chisel-tipped brushes are more useful, and they too should be of good quality.


Wayne

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, November 7, 2014 9:54 PM

doctorwayne
What puzzles me though, is for what everybody is using small pointy-tipped brushes?  About all I use them for is small details on figures or when doing hand lettering.  For most model painting, chisel-tipped brushes are more useful, and they too should be of good quality.


Well, for me, that's what I'm using them for - painting figures and small details, and touch-up of small dings on sprayed models - for larger surfaces I use spray paints or airbrush, and for large area washes I do have a selection of larger brushes.  With really fine brushes I can do lines better than with fine art markers, let alone with Sharpies (the color ones have rather wide tips in any case).
Obvious things you just noticed for the first time department: I've had this paint bottle carrousel for years now, and didn't realize until recently the holes in the top tray are there to hold paintbrushes (I can't even recall what the box looked like, let alone if it had a image on it).

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Posted by rrebell on Saturday, November 8, 2014 11:37 AM

Found some buy it now brushes in super fine sizes for $1 each on e-bay.

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Posted by bing&kathy on Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:52 PM

My method which I have used for 60 years is to clean the brush as good as possible with thinner and then I work in plain motor oil (non-detergent) paying special attention to the heel of the brush. Then I just lay them flat in my brush case. When I use them again I just clean out with a little bit of mineral spirits. This is for brushes used with solvent based paint. I have brushes that are 50 to 60 years old and are still holding their chisel shape. This is an old signpainters trick of which I am both, old & signpainter. My brushes cost from $10.00 to well over $100.00 each. As for waterbased paint I have just washed them out with soap, SoapBox  rinsed completly and laid down to let dry. I have had some of these for almost as long of time as the others.

Buy your brushes from a good art or sign supply store, take care of them and they will last for many years. Yes, I have replaced some but not from paint deposits but getting just plain worn out.Sleep

God's Best & Happy Rails to You!

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Posted by Kyle on Saturday, November 8, 2014 10:05 PM

For oil based paint, I would suggest cleaning the brushes out with either diesel fuel or mineral spirits, then rinse them with water, and final stick them in the fridge.

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Posted by NP2626 on Sunday, November 9, 2014 6:33 AM
Some of you seem to have very scientific approaches to cleaning brushes.  I never stick a brush in my mouth and would want to clean the dried spit from the brush before I used it.  You talk about water with minerals in it; how about living organisms!  Yuk!!  As far as shaping after use, I store with a little spirits; or, water left in the brush and shape with my fingers.
I’m old fashion, I clean my brushes with lacquer thinner, spirits; or, water, right there in the shop, without anything but basement air to breathe.   Probably will die from all the radon gas poisoning I’ve breathed, long before over exposure to harsh brush cleaning chemicals.  Since I don’t use; or, want a spay gun set-up, I don’t get copious amounts of chemicals cleaning my brushes.
Come on all you old timers, fess-up and admit you do the same thing.  I guess what don’t kill us, only makes us more dumber!

NP 2626 "Northern Pacific, really terrific"

Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association:  http://www.nprha.org/

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