The Masters Brush Cleaner

PRICE: $7.00 for a one ounce container
NOTES: Available in various sizes.

We modelers are detail-oriented on our kits, but do we apply that philosophy to our supplies? Those artist's brushes we use so often for fine details don't come cheap, so we want them to last. Enter, The Masters Brush Cleaner. I'm no Rembrandt or even Jackson Pollock, yet, but I can say this product makes me want to pick up a brush.

Right after a local hobby shop, art-supply shops remain a favorite way for me to kill an hour or two. When I ride the Amtrak to Washington DC, one of my usual stops is Blick, near Georgetown. I stock up on brushes, lately Princeton's reasonably priced line called Artiste, some of which have synthetic and others natural-hair bristles. How to keep them going after lots of painting? That's where The Masters comes in.

It works beautifully to keep brushes supple. It also can recondition brushes that have lost some of their shape, if they are not too far gone. This cleaner reacts to water and forms a thick lather, working best when I pre-clean brushes with the right thinner or, for acrylics, clean water. I then wet a brush and build up the lather, wiping it and removing excess soap. I don't remove all the soap but keep some to shape the bristles when the brush dries fully in storage.

One reviewer online noted something I have not seen: a pumice-like residue on certain types of brushes. I have found that extra enamel on a loaded brush beads up in the soap tub, but the brushes emerge clean and smooth. I thus wipe out the tub with a damp paper towel when I'm done. I don't know for the softest natural-hair brushes if or how it might change them, long term. In two years of frequent use, however, I've seen no degradation of my Princeton brushes and I've also found some old no-name brushes have enjoyed a second life. On the cheapest end of the spectrum, my micro-brushes, little sticks of plastic with a spongelike cluster at the end, now remain viable for dozens of uses when properly cleaned.

For the cost, you can't go wrong with The Masters. Another liquid brush-shaper I got at Blick for more money does not clean and it re-shapes old brushes not nearly as well.

I bought a 1ounce tub and have used half of it in two years. My wife got another for her work with watercolors, where she uses larger brushes. I suspect we'll get the his-and-her larger tubs soon.

It is pretty easy to find either from local art stores or on line.  Shop around: I found prices double that of Blick's price as a certain giant retail chain.

Joe Essid

April 2024

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