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 desire.
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 dry brush 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 life.
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
- Never pounce the brush
up and down in your water. This will cause the bristles to
separate and your brush will be ruined.
- 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
them only for oil
- 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.