Friday, 22 January 2016


I finally unpacked my toy soldier painting equipment, only to find I had no worthwhile size 0 brushes. So, a trip.

Two trips, as I made the mistake of buying Games Workshop brushes on my first foray. Avoid these brushes like the plague. After one use they'd begun to fork. I cane my brushes, but even by my standard this is a dismal performance. Cheap glue or cheap hair - everything about them is cheap but the price.

The second time I went to the Art Shop in the York Shambles. These narrow medieval streets with overhanging Tudor buildings are the kind of thing Americans visit the UK for. Super twee. They're cobbled too which is pretty good when you have a pushchair, a nice bumpety bumpety that puts the buggle down to sleep.

Brushes sound like Harry Potter wands - instead of Dragon's Heartstring and Phoenix Feather you're looking for pony or squirrel or sable hair. I picked up a size 1 synthetic watercolour brush with an extra long tip, and splashed on a size 0 Windsor and Newton series 7. These were kept in individual tubes on the counter, to protect them from oxygen, I assume.

'Windsor and Newton, size 0, series seven watercolour. A pine shaft and kolinsky sable bristles. How interesting,' The shopkeeper said. 'The sable that gave the fur to make this brush gave fur to make only one other. Sometimes brushes share a special connection, you see.'

'But who owns the other brush?' I asked.

The wizened brush seller leaned across the counter and looked at me across half moon glasses with a dark expression.

'He who must not be named.'

So I think I got somebody else's brush, but fuck it. My prophecy now.

I asked for advice on brushcare, which is why I went to a shop and didn't just buy the thing cheaper online. Her advice: for sable and other natural hair brushes, it's possible to retain springiness and point for longer by conditioning the brush with hair conditioner once a month. To protect brushes from acrylic paint there's very little to be done, the pigment is a bugger for creeping up and settling under the ferule or near the base of the brush. However, preparing the brush by wetting it and removing the water from the tip leaves a protective band of water under the ferrule that should prevent the pigment and its medium travelling up when you actually load it with paint. On a £12 brush I'll take that kind of care.

'And beware the agents of the dark one.' She added. 'They will try all tricks to separate you from your brush. So make sure you hide it, secret and safe.'

'Like in a drawer?'

'Is it lockable?'

'No. Its on an IKEA desk unit.'

'A drawer would do, yes.'

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