Calligraphy Brush: Tips for Use & Maintenance

2011-12-15 — Good Characters (Leave a message)

Now that you have your new calligraphy brush, we want you to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible. Please follow these tips for use and maintenance of your brush.

Prior to using your brush…

Remove and discard the plastic cap. This cap is meant to protect your brush prior to purchase, but is not recommended once you start using your brush. This cap can damage your brush by preventing the brush hairs from fully drying; prolonged moisture is detrimental to your brush.

Soak the brush hair in warm or room temperature water for 5-10 minutes. Make sure that only the brush hair is submerged. Gently massage the brush hair between your fingers to help loosen and dissolve the water-soluble “seaweed glue” present on most brushes. The length of time needed to soften the brush may be a bit longer or shorter depending on the size of the brush.

Remove excess water. Once the “seaweed glue” has dissolved, remove the brush, and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Please avoid using tissue or anything else that may leave fibers behind.

While using your brush…

Dream, create, enjoy! *“The brush is an extension of the artist’s heart, becoming part of the artist, who then expresses everything through the tip of the brush.”—The Simple Art of Chinese Calligraphy, pg. 18.

After using your brush…

Immediately rinse your brush after use. It is a good idea to rinse off any ink while it is still fresh. Allowing the ink to dry and harden on your brush actually makes the brush hairs dry and hard and less able to retain ink next time.

Remove excess water.

Hang brush to dry. Once you have removed the excess water from your brush, the best way to dry it is by hanging it upside down (hairs pointing downward). Most brushes come with a tiny loop on the end specifically for this purpose. Your best bet is to use a “brush hanger” which allows air to circulate around all of the brush hairs.

Store your brush safely. Because prolonged moisture can rot your brush hair, you never want to store your brush before it is completely dry. A bamboo mat can be a nice alternative if you do not have a carrying case, or calligraphy box for storage. Protect your brush by simply rolling it up in the bamboo mat. The mat helps absorb any remaining moisture and can be used to carry and store your brush.

A Final Note…

Because brushes handles are made of natural products such as bamboo, wood, and water buffalo horn, it is normal to note small imperfections. Tiny cracks, and even larger ones for that matter, will not affect the performance of your brush. The hairs of the bush are heavily secured at the base, and should not come loose; this is especially true for large brushes. As you use your brush, the ink will be absorbed into the base, over time. The ink contains some glue which helps further secure the brush hair at the base. However, if your brush does develop a crack, you can keep it from expanding by tightly wrapping it with sewing thread or fishing wire.