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...

6 comments:

Kay said...

I love your tip...I started using a bar of soap to clean my brushes over over 30 years ago and I still have those brushes! I like the idea of just leaving it in water in a jar too..I will do that! The bar of soap goes in my travel kit and is always there to clean up brushes and me! I have used some commercial cleaners when the bristol flats get gunked up, or I forget to finish cleaning (insert collective gasp here!)Nice tip..thanks

becky said...

I just found your blog~ really great that you started at 50 & are making it work!! I'm starting at 42... I'll be back to check out your blog more thoroughly later!

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Lori Quarton said...

I love your tip, too--would be especially good when traveling. I use Murphy's Oil Soap (purchased at the market) and it keeps my brushes in wonderful shape.