Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March Studio Tip

This month's studio tip has to do with cleaning your brushes - those used for oil painting. I would not recommend this for watercolor brushes.

If you paint in oils you know one of the worst end-of-day jobs is cleaning your brushes. I read about this tip on another blog - I wish I could remember which one, now, so I could give credit. But it works, I've been using it for several months now quite successfully.

Take a bar of natural handmade soap or Ivory soap and put it in an old mason jar. Fill with just enough water to come half way up on the bar of soap. As the soap softens it turns into a gross looking goo but it still works. After a cursory cleaning in oderless mineral spirits I put the brushes into this soap and water mixture. I've - gasp - even left them soaking for several days. I won't admit to anything over a week here. I might scrub the bristles over the soap a bit and then rinse in running water and - presto. They are clean and even those with dried in gunk come out in much better shape. I think it might have something to do with the lanolin that is still in handmade or natural soaps and removed by chemicals in the commercial soaps. The lanolin conditions the bristles - at least that's my theory. Anyway, it works better than anything I've tried to date, is cheaper than most commercial products, and uses up all those hundreds of bars of homemade soap I've received as gifts over the years.

Hey, not that I don't love those soaps or the fact that you thoughtfully gave me a gift...