Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bristles for Brushes...trial and error

As much fun as it can be at times, when it becomes more error than success it can become frustrating.

After a bit of experimenting I think I have settled on a brush method.

First you need some hair, of course it is always important to get ones materials from an ethically raised, sustainable source which in this case

So I have a habit of letting my hair get REALLY long, when I was ill it got to the point where I could almost sit on it and I would get comments from strangers. It was a pain to wash and brush.. Before I had my big surgery I had no idea what my recovery was going to be like, I was aiming to make life easy for myself by cutting the hair short so it would be easy to care for. I was preparing for the worst (a long and somewhat painful recovery) so that anything less awful than that would be a bonus.

This meant cutting about 15 inches off my hair which was cut whilst tied and displayed on my bookcase as a trophy. (This hair was not suitable for charitable uses as it was very thin and low quality due to my illness and all the strong meds I had been taking.) It looked like a dark blonde dis-articulated cats tail. You will be pleased to hear my recovery was a hundred times easier than I could have hoped for.

18 months (and 2 big surgeries later) I am looking for a bristle source and there it was sitting on my bookcase and from there I went. And I need to cut to my hair again.

I took a length from the end of the bundled hair, about an inch and a half long. Select a pinch of hairs to suite the size of brush you want to make.

Twist together and hold them together with some form of clip, I have used a clothes peg.

Using a flexible white glue (like PVA, tacky glue, elmers) and dip the ends making sure that all the hair ends are covered, allow to dry

Note, at this point in writing this post I didn't feel very well. I spent two hours in the bathroom feeling progressively worse before calling for an ambulance and spending my early sunday morning hours receiving emergency IV fluids at the local hospital. Anyway, they sent my mostly re-hydrated ass home with instructions to drink like a fish whilst I shift this gastroenteritis. Most people don't need the hospital for the bug which is doing the rounds here at the moment, however I am short precisely one colon (see above major surgeries) and if I am ill, I can dehydrate extremely fast. At midnight I was fine and writing this post but by 2.11 am we called the emergency services.  A few bags of fluids and some anti-nausea meds and I felt more human and was sent home, hopefully to sleep it off.

Returning to the post 48 hours later, we continue.

To give the bristles some strength, I wrapped a thin strip of tissue paper around the glued end. (1) After experimenting I recommend that you not trim the brush head at this point.

Butt the brush end to the handle and attach with a strong glue (2). I used superglue gel but E6000 would probably be great, but it would take longer to dry and I don't have any yet :(

For the final ferrule, I wrapped another layer of tissue paper (which happened to be silver/grey), wider this time to cover the paper already there and the join with the handle (3), glue and allow to dry. Remove excess. Tissue paper wet with glue tears nicely and smooths with almost no visible seam.

 Trim bristles to the desired shape and size using real brushes to guide you. Seal with an acrylic varnish to protect the ferrule and handle.

And you are finished, now enjoy your handy work. Here we have a selection I made, some of the ferrules I coloured with metallic sharpies before sealing. The green handled brush on the right has a ferrule made of aluminium foil from the kitchen as an experiment but I think it is too shiny and prefer the others.
And as promised to Nina, here is the brush handle which was attacked with carving tools and became a wand, there is not much detail but it certainly implies more than just a plain stick.

And in the non 12th scale mini world, this might have fallen into my trolley in the toy section of the supermarket today. I treated myself after such a rough couple of days. (£2.99) Love cats, love lego, what more could I ask for.

What next? Those paint pans need a box to live in!

I am beginning to think about the pieces of furniture that any self respecting which would have in her home, and then I can select a size for the ground floor. Then construction of the mock-up can begin and all the design choices and challenges worked out before really 'breaking ground'

Until another day, Kim


  1. Hi Kim! What a lovely blog you have- I've been enjoying reading your older posts. I have a future art studio planned for one of my houses so your post on the pans and brushes is so interesting to me! You did a beautiful job on both of them :) nice to meet you!!

    1. Hi fellow Kim!

      Glad you have been getting enjoyment from my posts, stay tuned for more art supplies as that is a theme I am working on at the moment (reminds self to make a tag for that). This should include a few more things like the paint box, palette and tube paints before I move on to a new thing.

  2. Well, you are certainly using YOUR head, Kim! hahah (excuse the pun) The natural hair bristles was a great solution to the need for brushes and the brushes themselves looked like they are well-loved and well-used. I also have paint brushes that I use again and again, ignoring some of the newer ones, in their favor. You have a good eye for details and I will look forward to seeing how you approach the other art supplies on your 'to- do' list.


    1. I know what you mean about going to the same old brushes time and time again, till the paint is flaking off the handles.