Review of "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver
An overview of OMS, brushes and "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver
I have been using "The Masters' Brush Cleaner and Preserver for about two and a half years now, since I heard Lisa Clough, the artist behind Lachri Fine Art, mention it.
People might wonder why I need a brush cleaner if I use colored pencils in my work. I often use Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS) to blend my work. The OMS dissolves the binders and pigment in a colored pencil and helps it into the tooth of the paper. By laying down a few layers of colored pencil, and then using a brush light dipped into OMS, I can gently blend the colors. While OMS helps in blending the colors that I am using, it also gives a more complete coverage, with less white speckles of paper showing through.
The next thing a person might question if I'm using OMS to blend my work, couldn't I use it to clean the brush? Afterall, it is used as a brush cleaner. I most certainly could! Here's the catch though. I might not purchase the most expensive brushes, but the ones I do purchase are an investment - in my time, money and work. I want them to last as long as possible.
I could just use the OMS to clean them, but OMS is full of chemicals. It's a derivative of petroleum. OMS doesn't haven't a strong odor, if any, and it does evaporate but the vapors and residue are still present, so while it is drying you can inhale the lingering fumes or absorb it through your skin. If I use OMS to clean my brushes, the OMS is still on the bristles and might be on the ferrule or handle. OMS can cause dermatitis, lightheadness. Enough though about the health hazards, this is supposed to be about my beloved brushes.
Brushes consist of three main parts: the bristles, ferrule and handle. Most handles are made of wood or acrylic. The ferrule is made from some type of metal and attaches the bristles to the handle with a crimp in the metal and glue. The bristles can be from natural or synthetic sources.
Let's think about our hair for a moment. Shampooing daily tends to dry hair out, so most people will use a conditioner. If they don't, they will probably end up with dry hair and split ends with a frizz going on. The same thing can happen to our brushes if we don't take care of them.
OMS left on a brush is slowly making the bristles dry, which will cause them to break a lot sooner. The bristles also absorb the OMS into the ferrule of the brush, where it can begin to break down the glue holding the bristles in place. You then have a brush that is either shedding bristles onto your work or the ferrule will fall off the handle. Of course, synthetic bristles hold up slightly better than natural ones to wear and tear, but the ferrule and glue can be the problem.
Anyone that has worked with a shedding brush knows it is not on any list of fun things to do. Trying to pick the shedders off your artwork is not on my list. They are usually stuck into the wax that was dissolved by the OMS. Sometimes you're lucky and that hair will just flick off on the first attempt. Most other times, not so easy.
I have had my most current set of colored pencil brushes for slightly over two and a half years. I purchased them a month or so before finding Lisa Clough's video on cleaners. Lisa also works in Oils and Acrylics, so her brushes see way more use than what mine do. My brushes look almost as good as the day I bought them, thanks to this cleaner and preserver.
"The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver is a white, hard cake that comes in a tub. It is manufactured by General Pencil Company, located in my hometown of Jersey City, NJ. While I cannot find a list of ingredients, which is probably top-secret, company sensitive information, the cleaner has been given the stamp of approval by the City and County of San Francisco.
According to the website, "It removes and helps prevent the build-up of oils, acrylics, watercolors, stains and varnishes." I know from experience that it helps prevent the color pigments from staining my white, taklon and boar brushes really badly. My watercolor brushes are in really good shape, but I don't use them as much.
The product is really easy to use. Just wet your brush and the cake. Then swirl and gently rub your brush against the cake, rinsing when the later becomes too dirty. Eventually the lather will be white as you're doing this and this is a sign that your brush is clean.
The preserving part can be your next step. You just rub your wet brush against the cake and then shape the bristles to whatever shape they are meant to be in. Do not rinse, let dry. The Brush Cleaner and Preserver will hold your bristles in shape as it dries. To use your brush, just give it a quick swipe on a paper towel (or pant leg, as in my case) and start using it.
I highly recommend this product to anyone that is using a brush. It is a safe, economical product that will help your brushes last longer. The cake lasts a long time also. I originally bought the 2.5 oz size and still have some left in it.