How-To Brush Care Guide
Prepare your brushes for their first use - read below.
Most of our large and fine hair brushes are hand-set and made with different hairs that are tapped in a small copper cylinder before being glued into the ferrule. This is why some of the hairs are not properly affixed to the ferrule, so the brush will shed some hair the first few times you will use it.
Thick hair: examples are; badger, hog (china bristle), horse hair
Fine hair: examples are sable; squirrel, goat, skunk (fine, thin short hair)
Synthetic Fiber: examples are; taklon, samina, bordeaux, synthetic bristle
To minimize brush shedding, you should:
- Wash the brush thoroughly with a mild dish soap in warm water and massage the hair to comb out the loose bristles. Rinse until there is no soap residue left in the brush.
- Ring the brush out by rolling it between your hands as if you were trying to make a fire with a stick to fluff out the brush.
- Let dry by hanging the brushes or lay it down at the edge of a table (a hog bristle will have a strong odor due to the bone glue used to attach the bristles. This will go away after a few washings.)
Repeat this process a few more times.
All acrylic glazes contain some sort of ammonia which attacks the structure of the natural hair. Therefore, brush maintenance and thorough repetitive cleaning as described in step 1, 2, & 3 is imperative to protect and extend the life of your brush.
Applying a few drops of ‘leave in’ conditioner is also a good idea if you’re not going to be using your brush for some time.
Dried Paint: If some acrylic glaze becomes hardened on the brush, start by removing the heaviest part with denatured alcohol then rinse with water and coat the hairs with Murphy’s Oil Soap and leave for several hours. Apply the steps again from 1, 2, & 3 so the paint will brush out easily and leave your brush as good as new. Be careful as soap left too long in the natural hair will deteriorate the flexibility of the hair.
Proper cleaning procedure
for oil/water and large or small brushes:
|Oil Medium||Water Medium|
|Large Brushes||Prep brushes by thinning in two or more baths of spirits or until a rag runs free of paint. Wash brush with warm water and a lathering soap. Shake out excess water, quickly form brush shape, and then allow to dry upside down.||Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Clean with a tiny bit of lathering soap and rinse until completely clean. Shake out excess water, quickly form brush shape, and then allow to dry.|
|Small Brushes||Prep brushes by thinning in two or more baths of spirits or until a rag runs free of paint. Apply a generous portion of Lard to the tip of the brush and store. To reuse brush, completely thin with spirits.||Clean each small brush very carefully and gently with a tiny bit of lathering soap. Shake out excess water, quickly form brush shape, and then allow to dry . To reshape a brush, dip it in Gum Arabic.|
The five decorative painting brush holds you'll need for Pierre's full line of brushes and tools.
At the ferrule, like a pencil
At the tip of the handle, like a conductor's baton
Grasping the entire handle, like a drummer's stick
With an open grip, as if holding a baseball
Between the thumb and the fingers (positioned to mimic a quacking duck) either on the ferrule or the hairs.
- Badger hair
- Natural hair extracted from the water-dwelling badger. The hair is traditionally used to smooth and soften water glaze.
- The action of applying thin transparent wash within fragments in order to give dimension.
- Bordeaux synthetic fiber
- Used with water mediums, this increasingly popular deep purple fiber has excellent medium retention and strength to keep its shape and add SPRING.
- Both oil/water when dedicated
- Many brushes can be used in both oil or water mediums, however, once a brush is used for oil, it should only be used for oil- and visa versa (primary reason for this relates to the usage of LARD which has to be removed with paint thinner which makes in incompatible to water).
- Breaking up the glaze
- The action of distorting glaze streaks and other application marks with the intention of quickly blending and/or unifying the value for even coverage. 'Breaking' allows randomly consistent texture, which is desired for many faux painting projects. This technique is primarily used with a GLAZING BRUSH, CODTAIL, or STIPPLER to remove application marks.
- Breche (breccia) marble
- A marble in which angular fragments of various sizes and colors are embedded. The greatly random gaps between the fragments are the breche. Marble breching is the action of painting the 'filled gaps' surrounding the fragments.
- Bristle hair
- The standard hair for oil painting made of select hog bristles.
- Bristle/nylon blend
- Our manufacturers have recently combined synthetic fibers with bristle hair to add to their versatility in water mediums. This blend combines the MEDIUM RETENTION of bristle and the SPRING of nylon.
- Sap that accumulates below and around knots and other wood stress points. They often take the shape of butterflies. This look is obtained with a softener like our OIL BADGER or a SPALTER.
- The act of using a CHIQUETEUR for decorative painting techniques such as FAUX MARBLE, stone work, and most marble backgrounds. The brush is used wet with medium and stippled on the surface lightly with a twist of the wrist and an upright position.
- Controlled randomness
- Pierre uses this term often when describing his approach for painting BRECHE marble. He believes nature creates the fragments of breche marble with randomness, but also with a sense of composition. Find your composition and create incredible visual interest.
- The fine crystal-like tiny fragments that give most marble their shimmering and translucent appearance.
- A series of rectangular projecting blocks, spaced on regular intervals that form a molding (found mostly on crown molding). They resemble gap teeth.
- The amount of MEDIUM that is released from a brush. Ultimate medium dispersion refers to a high amount of medium/paint/varnish the brush can hold. A brush with a ROUND shape, disperses from all sides making it the ultimate design for a charged load.
- Faux marble (marbleizing, marbling)
- Advanced decorative painting technique for replicating the look of marble on all surfaces.
- Fine (tertiary) marble veins
- The finest, smallest veins found in FAUX MARBLE. See our VEINING brushes for best results.
- The 'cracks' that occur a few thousand years after the marble is formed. These veins can run in a different direction than the marble and are often white.
- Technique of adding transparent 'flames' or 'fringes' running across (generally) main veins and BRECHE. This technique is performed with a CHIQUETEUR or a SINGLE HEAD BRECHER usually after a final overglaze and fragments have been applied.
- Technique used to simulate the pores that are created when the cells of hardwoods are cut. This look is best created with a FLOGGER or a GRAINING WHEEL.
- Closely spaced parallel grooves used to embellish moldings, columns, and pilasters.
- Typically for spattering in dark colors to resemble fly debris or general aging, the act of spattering color sporadically on a surface. This is achieved with a SPATTERING brush.
- The action of creating fragments mostly in BRECHE marble. Fragments are developed by painting the veins that map out the fragment by thinking in terms of NEGATIVE SPACE. Secondly, by adding fragments within deep areas, mini-fragments are created in a positive technique.
- French patina
- Back in the 18th century, walls were painted with a mixture of rabbit skin glue, whiting , and pigment. Because of its quick drying properties, walls were left with visible brushstrokes, which ran with the grain of the wood. The result is a 'ropey' look with a chalky appearance. The French patina faux application mimics this classic style.
- The transparent film of color used over a basecoat for various treatments (not varnish). The transparency allows the light to go through and reflect back on to the basecoat creating additional depth. The intention is to alter the look of the basecoat.
- The act of applying a glaze. See our GLAZERS.
- Tone-on-tone trompe l'oeil techniques executed in shades of gray, at its French name implies. Grisaille is often used for the imitation of bas-relief, which involves creating 3-dimensional, TROMPE L'OEIL techniques.
- A style of decorative painting and ornamental work in which fantastic human and animal figures are combined with leaf and flower forms interlaced in ornate curvilinear arabesques. The work grotesca comes from this style of art found in the Italian grotto (grottoes), the name given to underground chambers created by the excavation of ancient Roman times.
- Gum arabic
- A gum obtained from various trees and used primarily as the binder in gouache & watercolors. Gum arabic is reversible and soluble in warm water. Use it diluted to reshape water brushes and preserve for travel.
- Half tone
- The medium value of the shadow in TROMPE L'OEIL.
- Hooking (knitting)
- The connecting of fine veins to create small fragments for FAUX MARBLE. The pattern is irregular and used sparingly.
- Animal fat that is used to "grease up" small oil brushes in between use. By covering fine brushes, one can shape the brush into a resting position and takes the place of continually soaping up your most delicate brushes. Lard is sold in sticks like butter and should be left in the refrigerator. Use generously to cover thinned brush. When ready to use, thoroughly wash in paint thinner to dissolve lard.
- Lettering brush
- A long, flat or round brush with a square tip, used to paint letters. It has the ability to stop and start with the same thickness of stroke.
- Liner (lining)
- A preferably long and often pointed brush used to make an even stroke to outline, scroll, or accent a painted ORNAMENTATION.
- A light, inflexible wooden or metal rod, 2.5-3 feet long, which the painter uses as a support to rest the brush holding hand while executing particularly detailed and exacting work. The typical mahlstick has a non-slip ball at one end.
- A liquid, formed by mixing a blender and a solvent, that may be added to a paint to increase its manipulability without decreasing its adhesive, binding, or film-forming properties. 'SAUCE' is Pierre's term for most everything liquid.
- Satin-like semi-transparent 'ripples' represent the accumulations of sap that occur wherever the path of the wood's growth that has been restricted (knots, branches, growth). Moire & #8730's are always added on the final overglaze and is a NEGATIVE brush technique. Use a size 100 SPALTER or SKUNK brush for best results.
- Small molding that divides windows into individual panes.
- Negative brushwork
- Where glaze is removed or displaced with different tools. Strie, stippling, moire & #8730's are all examples of negative glazing brush techniques. Positive glazing is where medium is applied with the brush.
- Network veining
- Using a PENCIL VEINER, create fine, intricate, multi-directional veins that criss-cross each other in a congested network. Use on a FAUX MARBLE background technique.
- Orange-peel effect
- An undesirable surface texture that some coating materials exhibit when they dry due to the method of application with a roller-leaving roller marks resembling orange peel.
- Style of design based on enhancing with architectural detail often with 3-dimensional effects. i.e., egg & dart, floral patterns, grisailles
- The second glazing step on many decorative painting techniques. This step is to create visual depth by adding a transparent layer where previous layers show through.
- Pet comb
- Standard metal comb with rounded teeth used to help separate brush hairs in order to create a STRIATION or graining technique. Also used to comb the family dog. Use with out VIENETTE and WOOD 2-HEADERS for woodgraining.
- Pietra Dura
- Intricate inlaid work in which pieces of hard, polished stone and marble are set into a puzzle-like pattern to represent ornamentation. The style is a specialty of the 18th century in Florence, Italy.
- A technique of decorating utilizing several distinct colors in order to enhance an ornamentation (wood or stone carving). This technique is also used on flat surfaces to create multi-colored ornamentation. See GROTESCA.
- Primary veins
- The first, thickest, darkest, heaviest veins that determine the general direction and structure of the FAUX MARBLE. See SECONDARY & TERTIARY veins.
- Used traditionally in brush making instead of the metal ferrule to clasp fine decorative painting brushes. They are preferred because quill does not break the hairs, as the edge of a metal ferrule sometimes does. Quill tied with wire is a labor-intensive process used since the antiquity.
- Reversible medium
- A medium (binder + vehicle) that can be reverted to a liquid solution and "reversed" completely. i.e.: gouache, beer medium, watercolors, shellac.
- Sable hair
- The finest brush for oil and thin water mediums partly because it sharpens itself with use, making it increasingly accurate. The hair is valued for its unsurpassed combination of firmness and resiliency, for its fine points, and for its shape. Each hair has a bulge, or belly, between its root end and its tapering point. Sable brushes are used to achieve smooth and precise strokes. Kolinsky sable is the best and most expensive.
- Sable/synthetic blend
- More economical alternative to a pure SABLE brush. Toray is a Japanese synthetic that is found to be the most like pure sable. The blends are showing success with today"s water mediums.
- Samina synthetic fiber
- Soft and SPRINGY fiber made to simulate SABLE hair in performance. It keeps its shape and sharpens the more it is used. Used for water mediums only.
- Curved patterns to be mastered as they are prevalent in ornamentation, Grotesque-style painting, and lettering. Arabesques, swirly designs used throughout the time of antiquities to the 19th century.
- Secondary veins
- The second set of medium sized veins that are painted to compliment the PRIMARY veins. See our VEINING brushes.
- A wet material that is applied to a surface. At some point, it becomes a sticky surface ready to apply metal leaf. Size can be water-based or oil-based.
- Skewer metal leaf
- The act of removing the lap mark of excess leaf. Use a soft brush like a Gilder’s Mop or Chiqueteur to remove the leaf. A soft brush is crucial, as metal leaf will scratch easily.
- Softening (smoothing)
- The act of blending tones of GLAZE or making slight brush marks disappear with a softening brush. Great for FAUX MARBLE , WOODGRAINING, painting clouds, and many more techniques.
- The action of 'flicking' specks of paints in a controlled random pattern of fine dots. Mostly a positive technique, but spattering spirits would be a negative technique.
- Spring (verb)
- The quality or characteristic of certain types of hair (i.e. SABLE, BORDEAUX, SAMINA and BRISTLE) to have pliable properties to create a stroke that 'snaps back' with desired control and variance of the brush print.
- Squirrel hair
- Extracted from a black squirrel, it is soft and resilient (without too much spring), perfect for specialty decorative painting brushes. Traditionally, for oil mediums, fine for today's water MEDIUMS.
- The difference between stiffness and spring
- When it comes to brushes, a stiff brush refers to stronger, thicker hair that will stop excess movement. A “springy” brush refers to the pliable behaviors of certain hairs – the brush will bend easier while springing back to it’s resting position.
- The verticals and horizontals that frame all panels in mill work, doors, wainscot, paneling. Usually 3 inches wide, the verticals are stiles, and horizontals are called rails.
- Creating a fine texture of extremely fine, dot-like pattern by dabbing a brush repeatedly over a surface. Rectangular stippling brush is the best tool for this NEGATIVE technique.
- Straight grain (side grain)
- Occurs where the rings of the heartgrain extend out toward the sapwood, creating a series of straighter, parallel lines that show a slight movement (never perfectly straight). Use often for smaller areas in WOODGRAINING like STILES/RAILS, baseboard, crown, etc).
- Stretch glaze
- After first application of GLAZE, it is often necessary to even out, remove heavy pockets, and generally to evenly disperse the MEDIUM. Generally, this is best done with a SPALTER.
- Strie or striation
- A surface marking consisting of closely parallel lines or grooves done by dragging a flat wide short hair brush steadily across the surface in parallel lines (done best with a TOOTH SPALTER). This is a NEGATIVE technique.
- Synthetic fiber
- Man-made fibers created to mimic natural hair for brushes. Acrylic and nylon brushes are not affected by prolonged soaking in water. They hold a heavy charge of paint and are easily cleaned with a little soap and warm water.
- Talc is native magnesium silicate of common occurrence. Used as a matting agent and to ready tacky walls for painting (talc has no color). whiting is native calcium carbonate mined in various parts of the world and used in most industrial paint as a filler. Whiting adds weight but no color. Used to thicken paint but also as a matting agent.Applied with COD TAIL, STAINER, or VARNISH brush..
- Tonal layering
- Getting to a desired tone by adding layers of compatible tones wet-on-wet without disturbing the underonality. Use a CAT'S TONGUE or the SYNTHETIC SPALTER for best results. See WET-ON-WET.
- Toray synthetic fiber
- Man-made fiber to mostly mimic sable hair, but slightly stiffer and golden in color. It very SPRINGY and is used in our ONYX BRUSH.
- Trompe l'oeil
- From the French expression, 'trick the eye' is the technique in decorative painting utilizing the interplay between light and shadow to create an illusion of dimension and depth over a flat surface.
- Veiner (veining)
- The action of reproducing the linear pattern that characterizes most marble veins and woodgrains. Veining extends from thick, PRIMARY veins, to fine, TERTIARY veins. See our VEINING brushes.
- Water Gilding
- The oldest form of gilding. Prior to the 19th century, this was the only method used. Water size is made of water and melted gelatin. This mixture is brushed over a soft, clay, gesso base. This method allows for the longest lasting and greatest shine. Used mostly in furniture, frames and restoration.
- Watermark patina
- An interpretation of the marks that water could make on old wallpapers and by creating discolored spots on the background.
- Wet-on-wet application
- Toning with the intension of either blending or softly layering colors to reach a desired hue and design. See TONAL LAYERING.
- Window casing
- The trim around the window. Including the windowsill.
- Wood glazing
- A combination of WOODGRAINING and GLAZING. Think of how you would try to make a surface look like painted wood in one step. With FLOGGING techniques and simple graining, faux woodgraining can be sold without a WOOD HEARTGRAIN. Essential for window casing, mullions, stiles/rails, and other small areas.
- Wood heartgrain
- The center part of a tree. It is composed of rounded, elongated, more or less concentric diamond shapes. It is often a darker or more vivid color than the sides. The heartgrain is the 'signature' of the species of wood, it defines design, and it is used in a manner to showcase its beauty.
- Wood pores
- Fine dents made when wood is sliced lengthwise. Pores are tiny channels that sap runs through. This look is easily achieved with a FLOGGER or a GRAINING WHEEL.
- Advanced technique for imitating different wood species with paint, brushes, and a range of tools. The high times for this technique were in the 19th century, Europe.
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Pierre Finkelstein has been teaching decorative painting techniques since 1987. He is dedicated to teaching faux finish using the latest mediums and technology available for techniques such as faux marble, woodgraining, trompe l'oeil, stenciling, gilding, patina, stonework, plaster and more.
Pierre's classes and teaching procedure
Pierre Finkelstein teaches the techniques that he uses on his own jobs in his NYC business, Grand Illusion Decorative Painting Inc. He shares his experiences with the students in an open forum and bases his information on real job site situations.
Pierre, himself, spends up to 80% of his time "on the ladder". He's happy to teach those with limited experience. His teachings are efficiency-based techniques that will make you money. Classes are usually 3-5 days long.
Faux Marble: Don't be afraid of marbleizing! Watch as Pierre simply dissects the most challenging marbles and gets fantastically believable results with fewer steps. Some examples of marbles: Black and Gold, White veined Carrara, Sea Green, Yellow Sienna, Rouge Royal, Napoleon, Yellow Flower, African Breche and Violet Breche. Make money with marble!
Woodgraining: Can you match this wood? The next time a client asks that question, you will have a better answer after completing Pierre's woodgraining demo/interactive class. See the classics: Maple, pine, mahogany, burl, and more. Don't pine over it - sign up!
Trompe l'oeil: Trick the eye even faster with Pierre's efficient striping system for faux molding or other linear projects. With the right tools, striping can be a breeze as well as stunningly believable with instruction and practice. Ornamentation is discussed during longer classes.
Pierre Finkelstein is dedicated to teaching the tradition of fine European decorative painting. His classes are designed to efficiently give a comprehensive explanation of the following elements of decorative painting:
Standard teaching procedure:
- Instruction on the correct use of color
- Correct hand positioning and hand movement with the brushes
- How to properly hold and use tools
- An explanation of the characteristics of marble types, wood essence, and all other natural finishes
- A series of drawings performed as practice exercises
- Overview of technical information including different types of glazes, (oil vs. water)
- Preparing your own glaze with any available products, (oil, acrylic, etc.)
MIDAS Metall® Applicator Training: MIDAS Metall® supports its applicators by requiring a level of training before using the 2-part, unit-based, cold-metallization system. The products must be stored, mixed, and applied in a specific and regimented way. The learning curve would be too challenging and expensive without training. MIDAS Metall® is committed and invested in the success of its applicators. Learn more here
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Online Classes Available Now
- Faux Marble Veining Fundamentals Learn More
- Woodgraining Fundamentals Series Learn More
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