Friday, June 12, 2009

Brush Washer

Here's an easy and cheap way of making a brush washer for oil painting using a glass jar and a plastic container, with kerosene as the solvent. The holes in the plastic container are made with a power drill and a 1/4 inch high speed drill.

After the jar fills up with sediment it can be discarded at the recycling center on toxic waste day.

Also check out the GJ post on Ed Ahlstrom's design for a coffee can brush washer, link.

22 comments:

Scott Daly said...

That's pretty convenient. What type of peanut butter brand is that?

Drew said...

Ah! You totally negated the urine jokes.

That's actually pretty bizarre the applesauce cup fits pretty well in there. Though I'm gonna have to wonder the same thing Scott's thinking, because I've never seen a glass peanut butter jar. They're usually a plastic of sorts, and often not a terrific one.

I wonder if there's some stout mason jars you can find that aren't as big...

I imagine that jar of kerosene can be dangerous in certain sun/heat conditions...

James Gurney said...

The peanut butter is called "Santa Cruz Organic," which you can get at health food stores. But if you have an assortment of extra straight-sided glass jars, one of them is bound to fit. I refill the kerosene at the hardware store at about $2.00 a gallon and store it out of the direct sunlight.

Kathy Hodge said...

Turpanoid Natural makes a good brush cleaner, safer than kerosene and better for the environment. It's expensive, but the gunk settles eventually and you can pour off the clear portion to use over and over again. The only downside is that the gunk never solidifies. I use glass pickle jars and rotate them so I always have a settled one ready to pour into a clean jar.

Eric Braddock said...

Wow that's really handy! I had no idea kerosene could be used as a solvent, so interesting.. I'll have to try that with my turpenoid, the stuff could last SO much longer with this awesome little (and convenient) invention. Thanks for the tip, James!

Also, you should do more little videos like this one, I really enjoyed it :]

:::Julia Lundman::: said...

That is really clever. I've been using a screen at the bottom of a coffee jar, but as you say in the video, it scratches up the brushes so they don't last as long as they could (and get annoying tattered edges on them, too).

Thank you so much for showing us this! I really enjoy your blog a lot and gain a lot of insight into all things artistic by reading this.

Julia

P.S. I'm surprised you use kerosene. I haven't heard of that...usually I use mineral spirits. Is there a particular reason you are choosing kerosene?

Cheers!

Dan Gurney said...

Brilliant!

We were discussing the other day the relative merits of two instructional media: books vs. video/blogging.

This video illustrates the advantages of blogs as instructional media.

I would guess that this video took you less than 30 minutes to make.

To have written and illustrated this same tip for inclusion in a book would have taken much longer. And books are much harder and more expensive to distribute.

From the learner's viewpoint, the video conveys this tip more vividly, efficiently and usefully. The blog also facilitates for feedback to the author.

Books have one advantage, I guess: longevity. You can put them on the shelf for later reference.

Can you think of any other advantages books might have?

James Gurney said...

Julia, I use kerosene because it's not a highly refined solvent and it's low volatility. That basically means it doesn't vaporize as quickly as other solvents and has less odor and is less flammable. It does a good job of cleaning brushes, but of course it is a petroleum product, and as Kathy says the Turpenoid is probably better for you.

Dan and Eric, I'm glad you enjoyed the video. It took almost no time at all. I think video is great for showing how to do something, but books are better for really studying an image and for working through the thinking behind something. My hope is to combine books and videos in a way that uses the best of each medium to reinforce the other.

Daroo said...

Great demo.

My question is how did you clean all of the peanutbutter out of the jar?
(I've tried -- it takes forever)

I use Gamblin's Gamsol to clean brushes while painting, which I like because of its low odor/ lower toxicity. Its more expensive than kerosene but I set up a series of settling jars and reuse the stuff that is still good -- so it lasts a long time. Gamsol is a fine solvent for oil paint but I occasionally use Ralph Mayer's medium mix (which contains Damar varnish) and then I will clean those brushes out with Kerosene and then soap and water to clean out the kerosene smell. I keep the kerosene in a covered coffee can in my basement inside the can is a Bob Ross brush cleaner screen I picked up somewhere. I guess its a happy brush cleaner.


I tried turpenoid natural but found that it left a greasy film that didn't appeal to me.

Here's a comparison chart on solvents (its on Gamblin's site so take it with a grain of NaCl):
gamblincolors.com/solvents/solvent.comparison.html

It doesn't include kerosene but the flash point of kerosene is between 100 -162 degrees F.

jetsonjoe said...

Kerosene ??? really..Does it not have a high flash point...and does it not leave an oily residue on your brushes....Sorry but I have not heard anyone even consider the use of kerosene in over ten years...
So what are the plusses to using kerosene other than cheap cost and cheap high....
You know...I love your site...but I have not heard of anyone using it ...not since ten years ago with all of the kerosene heater fires....and that kind of ended their popularity.

Oh well ...what do I know...

James Gurney said...

Daroo, thanks for all that information.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beck said...

Suh weet! Thanks for sharing!

jimmy craig said...

I'm sold. Your using kerosene has convinced me to give it a try. Another painter friend of mine suggested it last week, and I've been hesitant. He said you have to remember that you can't do washes with it because it doesn't allow the paint to dry, so use a medium instead. But the advantage is supple brushes that don't get burned like odorless thinner will do. Really enjoy your blog, James! www.jimmycraigwomble.com

James Gurney said...

Jimmy, you got it right. I never use kerosene as a medium or thinner for the paint itself, just for cleaning brushes. After removing the paint in the brush cleaner, I dry off the brush on the paint rag.

The actual painting mediums are in small palette cups on the side of the palette, and I use Gamsol, Galkyd, and Liquin.

=shanewhite= said...

I use to use vegetable oil to clean my brushes...but then switched to Gamsol which is completely odorless.

Kerosene I'm sure is cheaper and easier to get when one is traveling to other destinations with their oil paints.

Great tip.

=s=

Timpa said...

Hmmm, kerosene ehhh? sounds so dangerous... Ive been using OMS in the biggest pickle jar I could find. I then took some aluminum armature wire (1/8th)used for sculpture to make a spiral ( just like in the silicoil tanks. Good thin about your system is that there is no need to keep decantering!

For pleine airing i have the same wire (its also clad with a thin layer or plastic, so its really nice to the brushes) at the bottom of one of those plastic accordion type containers used for watercolors. it fits neatly in my pochade box, and then i just have the liquids in plastic no drip bottles the same size as the small square w/n medium bottles.

The question is though, do you still use soap and water to get rid of the kerosene or do you leave them to dry with kerosene in them? And how does kerosene affect synthetic brushes?

James Gurney said...

Timpa, yes, at the end of the day I use soap and water to really wash out the brushes.

J. E. Morris said...

Thank you so much! Can't wait to try this.

TJBookarts said...

Smuckers makes a natural peanut butter in a glass jar. It can be found in any grocery store.
Thanks for this video. I had all the supplies on hand to make one of these. Took me 5 mins. (the jar was already clean)

Ocean Quigley said...

James, thanks so much for the tip! That's really clever.

O.

Alex Castillo said...

Thanks for the tip!