BRUSH RESTORATION

Camellia Design
Vermeer using a mahl stick in "The Art of Painting"

RESTORING PAINT BRUSHES

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Producing artwork will take a toll on even the best brushes, with time they can become damaged and lose their contour. While not every brush may be salvageable, many can be given a new lease of life by following a few simple steps.

This guide will show you the method we now employ after many years of testing.

MATERIALS

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  • Winsor and Newton Brush Cleaner

  • Artist's brush holder

  • The Masters Brush Cleaner

  • A cup of boiling water

  • Water Soluble artists gum arabic

STEP 1

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  • Suspend the brush in a jar of Winsor and Newton Brush Cleaner until any dried paint has softened or dissolved.

  • Use a brush holder and be sure that the tip does not touch the bottom.

  • Resting a brush tip down for even the shortest length of time, in any medium, risks damage to both the point and the shape of the brush

STEP 2

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  • Rinse the brush in warm water and then use some Master Artists Brush cleaner on the end. 

  • This is a bit like soap, so work in through the hairs or bristles removing any loose dried on paint.

  • Now rinse the brush once again.

  • Paint that has dried in the base of a brush near the ferrule is particularly problematic and removing it is not always successful. This can lead to a less than satisfactory outcome.

STEP 3

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  • Now place the tip of the brush into a cup of boiling water.

  • After a few seconds the hairs should spring back towards their original shape.

  • you may need to repeat this a second time.

STEP 4

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  • Finally dip the brush in a little Gum arabic and smooth the brush with your fingers back into its proper shape.

  • If there is an odd hair that still refuses to co-operate, carefully trim it. However, this should be avoided if at all possible.

  • Let the gum dry and store the brush safely for a week before using it again.

  • You should now have a much-improved brush. Just remember to rinse the gum arabic out of the brush before use.