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brush care (was re: brushes)

updated sun 21 apr 02


Janet Kaiser on sat 20 apr 02

Now I do not like to disagree unnecessarily with Mayor Mel or other
venerables around here, BUT if one does indulge in buying a
high-quality brush, there is not reason to believe that clay studio
use will spoil it in any way, AS LONG as you use and care for it well.
Indeed, there is one theory, that a good quality brush is going to
make the difference between mediocre decoration and positively good

Firstly, a really good brush will use absorb HUGE quantities of
pigment, glaze or any other fluid. Good brushwork does NOT involve
scrubbing or rubbing it on/into the surface, but more letting it flow
from the brush to the surface to be decorated... That is why the full,
juicy round brushes with a pointed tip are so WONDERFUL to use.
Complete control. No unwanted splashes or blotches.

To save too much pigment being absorbed by the brush, you first allow
it to "swell" in clear water. Not just a few swizzles in water, but a
nice little soak of several minutes. In the meantime, you mix your
oxides, glazes, or whatever. Press excess moisture out of the brush
and paint away to your heart's content. Never leave the brush laying
around to dry out nor leave it in the mix...

Then as soon as you are done, you MUST CLEAN UP 100%. And that means
washing ALL the pigment out. And I mean ALL... As long as you have
allowed the brush to absorb the pigment and not scrubbed it in, you
will find that two or three minutes of labour will get rid of all the
residual "content" of the brush. You press out excess water and then
form it to its original shape. A slight twisting movement with
finger-tips can help to "point" the bristles nicely. "Real" potters
naturally do this with their mouths... :-)

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art / Capel Celfyddyd
Home of The International Potters' Path
8 Marine Crescent : Criccieth : GB-Wales