As I shared last week, my Victorian-era watercolor box came with a bunch of brushes and other tools. I finally took some time to give them a little TLC and I thought I would share my process for fixing and cleaning paint brushes. This is helpful not only if you buy/acquire a lot of vintage or antique brushes, but if you just need to take care of some of your favorite brushes that get heavy use.
The first thing I do when fixing and cleaning paint brushes is to pull on the tops to see if they are firmly attached. Most of these popped off easily, so that was the first thing I needed to address.
(Those little marks of dried paint are from Violet’s paws! She has a knack for stepping straight in any paint if she sneaks into the studio.)
I bought THIS waterproof, neutral PH adhesive a while ago for a brush-making class I took from Jeanne Oliver and it’s been such a handy glue to have around the studio! I use it frequently for affixing brush tops that have popped off. (You can see some of the brushes I made in the class HERE.)
I’ll dip the end of the brush handle in a little bit of the glue, press the top on firmly, and wipe away any excess glue with a paper towel. I’ll let them dry overnight and they are good to go!
The second step to fixing and cleaning paint brushes is to wash them! I actually like and use a few different soaps for cleaning my brushes. Murphy Oil Soap and Miss Mustard Seed’s Brush Soap are two favorites. I really like the latter for conditioning and shaping brushes. Over the past year, I’ve been using a cube of Savon De Marseille. One cube has lasted me over a year and it’s still going.
You can see that I’ll rub the brush in the center of the soap, rinse, rub, repeat, until the water coming out of the brush is clean. I also washed off the handles well, since then were pretty dirty, too. All of the soaps I mentioned will even wash out old, dried paint pretty well.
The final step I take when I’m fixing and cleaning paint brushes is to condition the handles with Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil. (You can find other uses for Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil in THIS POST.)
This especially brings wood handles to life, adding luster and a little bit of shine. I even wipe a little bit over the bristles to condition and shape them. This lot of old, well-used brushes ended up looking pretty nice and I will definitely be using them, adding to their history.
The brush with the gold 5 on it is my favorite, but there are a lot of beautiful natural-bristle brushes in this lot.
Paint brushes, especially high-quality ones can be an investment, so fixing and properly cleaning them is a great way to extend their life.