Little tips for caring for brushes in a gilding workshop
Gilding brushes are important tools for gilders, church painters and artists, and therefore require regular care. Only well-cared for brushes allow for high-quality work. Brushes should always be carefully cleaned immediately after use.
Which cleaning agents should be used?
The answer depends on the materials used as well as the thinner and solvent used with them.
Water-dilutable media can easily be removed with water. Shellac brushes, on the other hand, can only be cleaned with alcohol. Oil and paint brushes should always be brushed out first of all, and pre-cleaned with a cloth. Then they must be cleaned with a suitable thinner.
Brushes made of hair, bristles and synthetic fibres will last longer if they are washed with a special soap, which depends on the degree of soiling and solvent. Wash the brushes thoroughly with soap in lukewarm water and then wash them out properly. Brush soap is moisturising and prevents the brush hairs from becoming brittle and breaking. The body of the brush must be washed out especially thoroughly when cleaning with soap. If material residues remain in the brush, the edge of the ferrule hardens over time. This destroys the brush, as the body of the brush becomes stiff and the hairs at the edge of the ferrule break.
After cleaning, squeeze the brushes with a clean rag and return them to their original shape. Ideally, the brushes should be hung to dry, and not placed on a heater, as the handle will shrink and the ferrule will become loose and start to wobble. Only once the brushes are completely dry should they be placed in a drawer, case, or folio for storage.
Special treatment for gilding brushes
The hairs of gilding brushes can be carefully wiped using a clean paper towel or a rag for cleaning. If heavily soiled, carefully moisten the hair with lukewarm water and brush soap, and then remove the residue. Rinse with clean water and place on a clean surface. Align the brush hairs and dab dry. While the gilding brush is still damp, place it between the pages of a telephone book for one day and weigh it down. The gilding brush will dry and the hairs will be pressed into a flat shape. Take care when cleaning to ensure that the cardboard cover of the gilding brush does not get wet and dissolve.