How to recondition splayed brushes?

Any suggestions on how to clean or recondition brushes so that the hairs are not splayed?
  I’ve got some that look like this.
MichaelD

Comments

  • GTO

    Either linseed or walnut with 2 or 3% clove oil will keep your brushes in good condition. Towel off excess before use. Can be used as separate immersion baths for lights, mids and darks within painting sessions and between sessions. Can also be used to oil out a dried surface. Perfect for cleaning splash and smudge. Older immersion baths can be used to clean brushes. Immersion baths settle out and can be decanted to go around again while the sludge is toweled out to dry in the sun. 

    If you have a hardened brush:  Immerse the brush and part part of the ferrule in a small container of an undiluted cleaning product containing around 3% hydrogen peroxide. My fav for this task is Glitz carpet stain remover, a local product, but I am sure there will be something similar where you live. Please avoid long soaking in any water/detergent based or hydrocarbon solvent product as this will ruin the brush.

    Patience is required at least six hours with an occasional agitation. If more drastic measures are called for then about an hour in isopropyl alcohol should do the trick.

    If if neither of these work then try some citrus oil paint stripper.

    To overhaul a brush after cleaning towel dry and trim loose or wayward bristles.
    Store upright with a lick of hair gel if necessary to condition bristles.
    Use fine steel wool to shine ferrule and remove paint from handle.

    Denis
    MichaelD
  • I may one day attempt some of the wonderfully detailed advice above.

    Meanwhile, I tend to get the sharp scissors out and turn the brush into one a size or 2 smaller by cutting the splayed bristles off.
  • Thanks @dencal I am going to try these methods.  I’ll post the results.
  • My natural fiber brushes get a real workout and don't last long but I find I can keep them in condition longer if I don't wash them but keep them in an oil bath. I use walnut oil. If I am not going to use a brush for a long time I wash it in Langridge Safe-Clean- up which is


     "a solvent free, non-toxic hand and brush cleaner for safely removing oil and acrylic paint.  Cleans, conditions, and restores paint brushes in one step. Use with wet or dry oil paint, wet acrylic paints, watercolour paint and stains. Makes cleaning, conditioning, and preserving your brushes easier and better than ever before even the finest sable brushes. It will also restore most hardened brushes to like-new condition.

    • Coconut oil based
    • Non Toxic
    • Solvent Free
    After I use it I shape the brush then wrap the brush in absorbent tissue to dry completely. This really does help to restore splayed brushes.  This is an Australian brand but there are no doubt similar products available where you live. 

    MichaelD
  • Thanks @tassieguy.  I have pink soap.  
    I have a few brushes like this so I am going to try some experiments using each method. Should be interesting.
  • edited August 24
    I am glad you asked this @GTO, as I have some brushes that need this refurbished.


    Thanks @Dencal and @tassieguy for informative responses too.

     :) 
  • I buy new ones and paint with the funky brushes. I like yo paint with distressed brushes most of the time. It's like driving a car on ice. dangerous but fun.
    Good brushes maintained well can last a long time. Not good brushes not so much. I like not so good brushes.
  • I buy new ones and paint with the funky brushes. I like yo paint with distressed brushes most of the time. It's like driving a car on ice. dangerous but fun.
    Good brushes maintained well can last a long time. Not good brushes not so much. I like not so good brushes.
    I discovered one the other day that is giving me parallel lines, perfect for some of the historic neo-classical buildings I am currently painting!
    KingstonFineArtDesertsky
  • I am reading this discussion closely. In the past few years, I have ruined a variety of synthetic brushes while cleaning them (different brands, different brush types, and apparently made from different materials!) with techniques and materials which did not damage the natural brushes. $$$ ggrrr.  I have gone back to natural hair brushes. I clean them with just walnut oil and keep them in walnut oil continuously, which I learned from Mr. Carder’s videos and this forum. So far so good.


  • dencaldencal -
    edited August 27
    toujours

    I just watch this video in awe. Check out the painting of parallel fine lines. The guy is holding the camera and painting.

    Use a mahl stick as a ruler to guide a steady line.
    Thinning the paint helps, as does a light coating of medium on a dry canvas.

    Don't watch the brush tip as you paint, keep your eye on the destination.

    Here is a better demonstration 

    GTO
  • Wow! Now that's brush control!
  • dencal said:
    toujours

    I just watch this video in awe. Check out the painting of parallel fine lines. The guy is holding the camera and painting.

    Use a mahl stick as a ruler to guide a steady line.
    Thinning the paint helps, as does a light coating of medium on a dry canvas.

    Don't watch the brush tip as you paint, keep your eye on the destination.

    Here is a better demonstration 

    What mind blowing hand control.  Not a single shake and able to even "touch up" without messing it up.

    I restored a horse gig a few years ago, but balked at doing this on the wheels.    

    I had agood  chuckle at the 2 pronged brush, thanks for the giggle.   Now I have to work out how to hollow out the wood handle of mine to hold paint !!!
  • @dencal and @toujours - Amazing control! I am guessing he doesn't drink as much coffee as I do. Hey - hollowing out the paint brush handle to hold paint: is that how he did it?  I' really like to know.
  • Desertsky said:
    @dencal and @toujours - Amazing control! I am guessing he doesn't drink as much coffee as I do. Hey - hollowing out the paint brush handle to hold paint: is that how he did it?  I' really like to know.
    Perhaps I should cut down on the coffee intake also!

    It looked to me as if he was holding 2 small cylinders rather than a normal brush handle.   I presumed each held the paint corresponding to the brush attached to it?   I have been known to be wrong a time or two.
    Desertsky
  • On restoring and maintaining brushes, does anyone use Richard Schmidt's technique of clamping the bristles in cardboard after they are cleaned?  
  • @dencal. How long do you keep the brushes in the carpet stain remover?  Six hours?
    If you go so far as using isopropyl alcohol how long do you keep the brush in that?

  • mstrick96 said:
    On restoring and maintaining brushes, does anyone use Richard Schmidt's technique of clamping the bristles in cardboard after they are cleaned?  I
    I did and it worked but only for a while, after an hour or so brush goes back to splay :)
  • GTO

    As described above six hours in the Glitz with occasional agitation. About once a year for a few brushes.
    One hour in isopropyl alcohol for recalcitrant brushes. I needed to do this once.
    Last resort is citrus paint stripper. I did this once as an experiment with good results.

    Denis
  • I used a carpet stain cleaner calls Carbona icy stain cleaner for six hours on some brushes and De-Solve-it citrus based cleaner for one hour on others.  Brushes were suspended in those solutions.  I stirred them every so often. I then swished them around in isopropyl alcohol and towel dried them.
    here’s what the brushes looked like after that..

    You can see how fluffy and splayed they are.  
    There was still a lot of dried paint material in their bases near the ferrules.
    I then took some stiff hair cream like a Crew forming cream paste and worked that into the brushes pulling it through the brushes with my thumbnail.  When the cream got dirty I wiped it off and repeated until the base of the brush near the ferrules no longer bulged and no more dirt discolored the paste. 
    Here’s how they look now.

    The one at the very top I went ahead and rinsed in water and dried off.  Here is how that looks now.
    I think I will have to do that with all of them before using them. 

    DesertskydencalMichaelDMarinos_88
  • dencaldencal -
    edited August 30
    GTO

    What a splendid set of well maintained brushes🤩

    Denis
  • @dencal they aren’t the greatest brushes.  The Loew Cornell talking 4500 series is my favorite brush but they no longer make that series.  
    I have a set of #2 and #6 filberts that are not shown here (they are always kept clean and  oiled).
    The set shown here are some that I’ve neglected but would like to have handy again.  
    This cleaning process made me realize just how much build up near the ferrules distorts the bristles.  Keeping that clean is critical.  
    Lately when I clean a brush after painting I pull walnut oil through them until I don’t see any more paint color.
    Thanks for your help with how to recondition them.
    dencal
  • @GTO
    I've done something very similar using Murphy's Oil Soap to soak the briushes first.  Worked as well as your approach.

    My brushes are in good shape right now, but nest time that need this kind of treatment I plan to use a plastic hair comb to clean out the dried paint.  I've also heard of using brass wire brushes to do the cleaning, but I think a comb would be more gentle on the bristles.

    I also make my own brush cleaning soap.  I superfat it and use a recipe that it has good conditioning properties.  Using this soap keeps the bristles "healthy".  
  • @mstrick96 the super fat soap method makes sense.  I think that would be equivalent to the hair forming paste.  It is a fatty conditioner. 
  • @GTO and @mrstrick96 - Are your brushes natural bristle and hair or synthetic? I have ruined synthetic brushes with short exposure (less than 1 minute) to alcohol and OMS. thanks. 
  • I have both synthetic and natural hair and have not had any problems with OMS.  This was the first time I’ve dipped anything in alcohol.  But I didn’t see any problems with either synthetic or natural bristles here. 
  • mstrick96 said:
    @GTO
    I've done something very similar using Murphy's Oil Soap to soak the briushes first.  Worked as well as your approach.

    My brushes are in good shape right now, but nest time that need this kind of treatment I plan to use a plastic hair comb to clean out the dried paint.  I've also heard of using brass wire brushes to do the cleaning, but I think a comb would be more gentle on the bristles.

    I also make my own brush cleaning soap.  I superfat it and use a recipe that it has good conditioning properties.  Using this soap keeps the bristles "healthy".  
    I have used a brass brush on house paint brushes, but not my art brushes.
    I was thinking of trying a toothbrush next time I swap mine out for a new one.

    I have heard a bit of beeswax can help in conditioners, but have not tried it yet. 
  • edited August 30
    Washing brushes in harsh chemicals and solvents just wrecks them. Best not to wash them at all but keep in an oil bath. If you do need to to wash them the type of cleanser/conditioner I mentioned above is the best. After washing, shape the brush and wrap in absorbent tissue to dry completely in shape. When you unwrap them your brushes will be in much better condition than if you had used solvents.
  • After reading this post I left a bunch of brushes that I had neglected, some had gone super stiff, some with dried paint, in some Vanish Oxi Advance, its a chlorine cleaning booster for clothes, with hydrogen peroxide in it, though it doesn’t say what %, its probably around the same as stain remover.

    After 6 hours I rinsed them, they came out great, except 2 which were the worst and may need another round.

    Very helpful thread thank you all.

     :) 
  • MichaelD

    Pharmacies sell hydrogen peroxide in 3% and 6% concentrations in small bottles with big prices.
    If you need large quantities or higher concentrations it is assumed you are building rockets or bombs.

    The Vanish product is quite effective. Though for a brush with dried paint I would start with the citrus paint stripper and finish up with the Vanish.

    Denis

    MichaelD
  • @Desertsky
    I have both natural and synthetic and have no problem with OMS.  I haven't used alcohol.  I suspect that if a synthetic brush says it is for acrylics only, then OMS or alcohol would be likely to dissolve the glue in them.

    I use Murphy's Oil Soap when my brushes need a deep cleaning.  In between, if I am not going to use brush dip, I'll clean the paint out with either linseed or walnut oil, then clean the oil out with Gamsol.  I'll periodically follow the Gamsol with my homemade soap which is formulated to be cleansing and conditioning.  

    I generally only need to use the Murphy's Oil Soap when I have been careless and have let paint harden in the bristles and ferrules.  

    I lot of people think that homemade soap is harsh, but thatr is only true if the proper receipe isn;t used or if the ration or lye to oils isn't measured out properly.  The oils and their quantities used can be selected for whatever properties are desired in a soap.  

  • @mrstrick96 - Thanks, that is helpful. I destroyed some new Rosemary synthetic brushes by swishing once in Gamsol. Maybe I had a bad batch of brushes. I have had a few other brands of synthetic brushes not hold up well, so I am back to natural hair and bristles. I know I must be doing something wrong in my cleaning process, but can't figure it out. 
  • @Desertsky
    I use Rosemary brushes and haven't had any problems.  The ones I use are the Ivory model.  

    You should write to Rosemary and tell them about your problem.  They are very responsive and will help you.  My guess is that your brishes were for acrylic or watercolor only.
  • @Desertsky, I had the same problem with some synthetic Rosemary brushes so I don't think you just got a bad batch. I washed them just once in OMS and they looked like old brooms. Synthetics seem to respond even worse than natural hair brushes to being washed in solvents. I was able to partly restore the Rosemary's by using the product and method I mentioned above. 

    I think it's inevitable that all brushes, like everything else, will degrade over time through simple wear and tear, but they can be kept in good condition for longer by not cleaning them in strong chemicals.
  • Folks

    Rosemary’s website states that they do not recommend the use of solvent cleaners. They even print that message on their invoices.

    Denis
  • Thanks, everyone. At the time I brought the Rosemary brushes, there was no information about this on the invoice nor from the sales phone person I ordered from in the US. There was no information on the website of the US distributor about different brushes being used for different media nor to not use OMS. Since solvents are frequently used in oil painting, I think this is an extremely poor material selection at the Rosemary company. I do due diligence, but this is beyond what I consider reasonable.

    I am glad that the Rosemary company warns people now. :) 
  • edited August 30
    dencal said:
    MichaelD

    Pharmacies sell hydrogen peroxide in 3% and 6% concentrations in small bottles with big prices.
    If you need large quantities or higher concentrations it is assumed you are building rockets or bombs.

    The Vanish product is quite effective. Though for a brush with dried paint I would start with the citrus paint stripper and finish up with the Vanish.

    Denis

    Thanks for that Denis,

    My bomb making days are long over, as a kid one of my elder brothers, who was a bit of a pyromaniac, had me making pipe bombs with him in our back yard. Only for setting off in the back yard though, I think it was a combination of weed killer and sugar.
    It wasn’t until years later I realised how easily I could have lost a limb, limbs or even my life as we sealed the copper tubes down by belting them with a hammer.

    THose were the days

     :) 
    dencalDesertskytassieguy
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