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There are a few basic things you need to know about Chinese art brush care in order to get the most out of your brushes, and to insure they remain in good condition. This guide provides you with general information regarding the care of a Chinese art brush.
One of the most important things you need to know about a typical Chinese art brush is that it is made with natural animal hair. The better the quality of the hair a brush is made with, the easier it is to ruin.
Before you ever use any art brush it should be soaked in luke-warm water for five minutes, then the brush should be gently pressed against the sides of the cup or water dish to loosen the hairs. You should do this carefully and slowly for a couple of minutes to not only loosen the hairs but to remove the starch like glue holding the hairs together.
Now that your brush is clean and prepared for writing or painting you are ready to create your next fine artwork. Follow this same procedure for all of your new brushes.
One of the most important factors affecting the life of a Chinese art brush is proper cleaning. Allowing a brush to even partially dry before cleaning it will shorten its life. As soon as you finish using your brush clean it immediately with luke-warm water, NOT hot hot, just slightly warm.
If you are not finished using your brush but need to take a short break, rinse the brush out and hang it from a brush stand. You can then remove the excess water before using it again and do a thorough cleaning after you finish writing or painting.
When Cleaning a Brush
When you clean your brushes you should use the same gentle strokes you use when using them to create an artwork. Pressing them in the water against the side of a cup or water dish is all that you should do to remove ink or paint. Use clean water to finish the job and use your fingers to very gently shape the bristles into a point before hanging the brush on your brush stand.
We highly recommend using a brush stand to hang your brushes. You can buy one, make one or even hang them from hooks on a tool bar. Hanging the brush allows the water to leave the ferrule and the hairs to dry straighter. laying a brush down may cause the hairs to dry pointing more in one direction, which is not desirable.
Never try to test brushes by pulling on the hairs or bending them with your fingers, and always be gentle with them. The more expensive a brush is the more gentle you must be with it, and more careful to clean it well. Just like most expensive items, highly quality art brushes are very delicate. The hairs used to make them will last a very long time, but only if you care for the brush properly.