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  • Originally posted by Smitty View Post
    Normally I wouldn't butt in but, looks like Loston's booked up and I hate to see you ruin a good brush before you get started.

    The TEN commandments

    Rule 1: Never "break" the bristles. When new, brushes are covered with a hard candy shell made of acerbic gum. Do NOT twist the bristles free. SOAK the gum out. This can take as much as ten minutes the first time. Take the time to do it right.

    Rule 2: NEVER allow a dry brush to come in contact with ink! While there is a technique called "dry brush", it uses a wet brush. Keep a jar of water next to the desk (NEVER ON the desk. That's a safety issue and bad juju) Soak brush thoroughly, push excess water out by wiping against the inside lip of the jar, blot bristles against a clean absorbent rag. Now you're ready for ink.

    Rule 3: When dipping into ink, never dip further than half way. Better yet, never dip more than 1/3. A brush is a mop made to absorb, there's more ink in there than you think and you know where to get more if you need it. A handy trick is to never fill the bottle with more ink than can cover 1/3 the bristles. Now you can dip straight to the bottom of the bottle and never overload the brush.

    Rule 4: NEVER allow ink to touch the ferrule (the metal band that holds bristles to handle). If it does, rinse thoroughly immediately. Once ink dries in the ferrule you're smurfed. The bristles will no longer come to a point and the dried ink will be a magnet for more ink and now you're extra smurfed.

    Rule 5: Rinse out ink constantly. To rinse out every time before dipping may not be required but, is not excessive. Certainly every couple of minutes, more often in dry climates. Ink is viscous, relatively quick to dry and waterproof once dry.

    Rule 6: Never allow a brush to dry with ink in it no matter how diluted the ink. If you need to switch instruments or take a break, rinse thoroughly, load with water and hang upside down (in a brush holder, do NOT let point touch anything) or lay flat. Keep your eye on the brush, if the distraction takes longer than you thought, load up again or wash it.

    Rule 7: Wash thoroughly after every use. Loston likes shampoo, I prefer "the Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver in the flat wide tub.

    Rule 8: Never allow the brush to dry without a setting agent. You want to recreate the hard shell the brush came with. Loston likes hair conditioner, I stick to "the Masters". Once clean, work up a filmy solution (not lather) and then roll the brush against a clean rag. Check for, and straighten out, any bends, make sure it comes to a perfect point. Dry upside down or flat.

    Rule 9: No not allow a wet brush to stand bristles up. You do not want water to become trapped in the ferrule or to absorb into the handle. Either will cause mold and... you're smurfed.

    Rule 10: uhh... Mind your mother and brush your teeth.

    The SNAP Test

    Normally I would say never buy a brush without test driving first... but, we're too late for that here. Still, you want to test the brush in case it needs to be returned.

    SOAK out the gum (do NOT twist bristles) Load brush with water. Find a spot ( a towel, pants leg, out the window) where water spray will do no damage. Snap your wrist. The bristles should come to a perfect point. If it fails to point perfectly the brush is dead; not sick, not wounded, DEAD! Sleeps with fishes, food for worms, DEAD!

    If it does point perfectly, don't trust it, do it again. If it points a second time, don't trust it, do it again. If it points a third time, it's alive and good to go. Note that's three times in a row. ANY failure to point = dead.

    Perform the snap test after every cleaning, prior to setting. If it fails to point you're not clean or, still have soap in the bristles or it's dead. See if further cleaning or soaking cures the problem.
    Thanks Smitty, I'll copy and paste this to my iPad. Sorry I took so long to respond, but this thread didn't get answered for some time, so I stopped checking back until yesterday. Thanks again for your help!
    The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.

    ---Malcolm Forbes

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