After painting, there are always dirty brushes that need your care and cleaning. If you treat them properly, they stay in a great function for years, and they can save you time and money. Here is a brief explanation of some tips for brush care and interesting usage of not that common brushes.
To clean a fine paint brush thoroughly without damaging it put a screen in the bottom of your cleaning fluid jar. The screen can be made from fine aluminium or stainless steel mesh raised off the bottom to allow sediment to collect underneath. Or you can use old pantyhose stretched over a frame. To clean the brush, gently wipe it across the screen in the cleaning fluid. The mesh removes hard residue and dried paint.
Care of Brushes
After cleaning, dip your brushes into a small bottle of olive oil and then smooth the bristles to a fine point between your fingers. This prolongs the life of your brushes because the olive oil feeds the bristles and prevents them from going dry and brittle. Before reuse, the oil can be removed by wiping the brush with a tissue.
No matter how careful you are about keeping your paint brushes clean, a little paint always collects at the base of the bristles, especially with fast-drying acrylics. When you have cleaned your brushes by the usual method, swish them in lacquer thinner a few times and wipe them with a lint-free rag several times. You will be surprised how much paint has remained in your “clean” brush. Finish off your cleaning by washing the brushes in soapy water and use liquid hand soap (not dishwashing detergent) to wash away any traces of the lacquer thinner. When you are finished washing the brushes, gently shape the bristles into a fine point and let them dry in a safe place.
Whenever one of your regular paintbrushes starts to wear out, ‘retire’ it and use it expressly for dry-brushing. You will then have a variety of stiffer, short haired brushes for dry-brushing techniques.
Besides eye shadow, mascara and other such items from a makeup kit for weathering, an appropriate brush can all be put to good use for dusting as well as weathering equipment. The blusher is fairly large, but amazingly soft, and is ideal for a general dusting of roofs, boilers and tenders. It removes the dust with no damage to finish or detail. The lip brush is fine and stiff, just the thing to reach into restricted places such as pilot decks, caboose platforms and other tight spots. It is also good for applying dry colour or eyeshadow weathering. If you don’t have these items around the home, try the Avon Lady or the makeup department at your chemist or department store.
Using Old Brushes
Don’t throw away your old paint brushes. If you cut the bristles to about half their normal length, they are just right for dry brushing.
Good paintbrushes are an investment, so it is worth some extra effort to keep them in good condition. Quality brushes usually come with a plastic sleeve over the bristles, and you should keep this on when not in use. However, these sleeves do tend to get lost so make some more by cutting a length of drinking straw or plastic tubing sufficiently long enough to slip over the brush ferrule and cover the bristles. When you have finished painting, clean the brush well and slip into the sleeve. Make sure that all the bristles are gathered together, so they don’t bend back when you slide the covering sleeve into place. This way you never have trouble with bent bristles and drying is not a problem either as the end of the sleeve is open.
The clear plastic tubes that protect a paintbrush are easy to lose. Wrap them with coloured tape to make them easy to find.