I recently bought a set of nice watercolour brushes online, yet to my utter dismay they arrived damaged. The bristles were completely misshapen. Just because they arrived out of shape doesn’t meant that they are completely ruined; let me show you how to revive your brushes so they are as good as new.
As you can see from the picture above, the majority of brushes arrived unharmed. I was a little unhappy how the large 1″ brush (far left) has frayed edges already since its brand new. The Cotman fan brush however appears to be completely destroyed.
How To Reshape Watercolor Brushes
I know this technique works on synthetic brushes, however I have not had the pleasure of testing it on brushes made of real hair (such as sable). This may also work on brushes for other media types, such as the thicker bristled oil brushes. Please let me know if you get it to work in the comments!
Step One: Boiling Water
You will want to boil up some water as hot as you can get (but not so hot that it’ll burn you). Pour a bit of water into a small bowl.
Step Two: Wash the Brush
Dip your brush in and swirl it around. Ideally you don’t want to jam the points onto the bottom of the bowl, but rather soak it thoroughly and get out any residual moulding glue (often on new brushes) or paint.
Step Three: Shape The Brush
Gently shape the brush with your fingertips to the ideal shape. This is really easy for rounds and pointed rounds. I actually found the best method for the fan brush was to gently glide the brush out of the water on the bowl’s edge/surface; it came out in a really nice flare.
Step Four: Leave To Dry
Place the brushes onto a kitchen towel (or tissue) to absorb the extra moisture and let it dry completely before use.
Step Five (If Necessary): Repeat Process
If you feel like you need to, repeat the process again. You may need to refill your bowl with boiling water. I found that I could tell if the process needed to be repeated before the brushes were fully dry. I repeated the process about three times for my fan brush (damage was extensive).
Did you like this article? I’m interested to know if you want to read more articles about other craft topics such as painting and drawing?