Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

How to Keep Your Silk Painting Brushes Clean

This is one that many of you ask and  it’s actually a really fundamental one. We all get swept away applying a wide palette of gorgeous dyes to our silk but when it comes to keeping the brushes clean for the next time, that’s when difficulties can arise.

How often have you started a new painting with some pastel pink only to find that the first brush stroke is tinged with dark blue from your last session. Mmmm…not really the sort of thing you want happening during your creative spells.

Well, all is not lost because there are some basic things you can do to ensure that this doesn’t put a permanent damper on your enthusiasm and spoil your works of art.

The first thing I would recommend is to keep separate brushes for lighter and darker shades. I’m not saying you need one for each individual colour but it does make sense to keep the pastelly shades for one brush (or set of), the reds and oranges for another and your blues and greens for another one. If you use browns and blacks, they definitely deserve a brush of their own, too.

But I still suggest getting used to giving your brushes a thorough clean in between painting sessions. And this is what I do. I take my dirty brushes and plunge them into a large jar of clean water and really swish them about for a minute or two to get the worst of the dye off and repeat this if the water gets really dirty. Next I take the first brush and hold it under the running tap, gently rotating it on the palm of my hand in the full flow of water. Then I turn it upside down to allow the water to penetrate the wrapped upper part where the bristles are wrapped together. This is where the dye accumulates and is hard to get out. When you paint later the residue gets reactivated by the water and slides down the bristles onto the silk.

And then I take clean jar of water and a clothes peg. I suspend the brush with the water level parallel with the beginning of the wrap around and leave that over night for the dye to work its way out again into the water. Next morning I swish the brush around vigorously for a moment or two, run it under the tap and then squeeze dry between my fingers. I mould the bristles gently into shape and lay the brush down to dry on a sheet of kitchen paper. Your brush should be ready to go again and any remaining excess dye can bleed out at this stage.

This is about as good as it gets without using anything abrasive. I find it works if I do it thoroughly. See how you get on. 🙂


March 3, 2010 - Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Actually no. I have a wide selection of different types of brushes that I use for different effects. Any brush that you would buy and use for water colours is perfect for silk painting. When you are starting out it is a good idea to have a couple of very fine brushes, a couple of medium and a couple of chunky brushes. You could also get yourself a very wide one which is great for doing washes on larger areas. Make sure you always have a large jar of clean water beside you as you work and keep the brushes clean as you paint. The dye or paint gets sucked up inside the part of the brush where the bristles are bound together and it has a nasty habit of dripping down again when you least expect it. I wrote an article entitled How to Keep Your Silk Painting Brushes Clean, which you can read here. […]

    Pingback by Silk & Art Newsletter | Tips, Hints and Latest News from Silk & Art | » Newsletter – April 2010 | April 21, 2010 | Reply

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