A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Monday, 6 May 2019

A Fool and His Money - a Brush with Disaster

Since I was getting some hobby-type odds and ends from Amazon, it seemed a reasonable idea to get some cheapo brushes while I was at it. A lot of my brushes are coming to the end of their useful careers, so it does no harm to stock up a bit.

I've moaned about this before, but I have a very frustrating personal history with brushes. On occasions I have treated myself to something really expensive, and have usually been disappointed. Some of the best brushes I ever had were second-quality bin ends from Hobbycraft - very unpredictable. Eventually I get to a position where I have a jam jar full of scruffy wrecks, plus a couple of remaining brushes that will still form a decent point, and then one night I lose a bristle or two, and things start to get a bit tense!

I've been reading some forum or other where the dudes were discussing which budget-priced modelling brushes in the UK were good, reliable value for money. Based on this, I added a couple of packs of Humbrol Palpo brushes to my Amazon order. Sable hair, one each of sizes 000, 0, 2 and 4, about £8.50 or so for a pack of 4 brushes.
Old, scruffy brushes are always a nuisance, right? The joke is that these are the new, unused ones - admittedly before I tried to train and clean them a bit - but they were no better afterwards
Humbrol "Palpo" brushes, made in China - marketed by Hornby Hobbies (once of Binns Road, Liverpool). Unspeakable rubbish
A last look. It would be infantile to put them straight in the bucket, but this evening I have been painting with my old brushes. I can feel the donkey's ears growing out of my head
They arrived. I think the only relevant word I can think of is "crap". I've had a go with very hot water and the posh brush cleaner, and the only difference is they are probably slightly cleaner crap now.

Very uneven mixture of bristles, trimmed to length with a hatchet, apparently, lumps of dressing on the ends of the tufts. No likelihood of a passable point. I am disgusted.

Don't ever be tempted to buy any of these, chaps.

***** Late Edit *****

This follows on from some of the comments. Here are a couple of real veterans. When I was clearing out my parents' house, a few years ago, I came across a lot of my father's old painting equipment. Back in the 1970s he did a lot of hobby painting. He was a very fair watercolourist - a bit photographic for my taste, but pretty good in a draughtsman-like way. He also tried his hand at oils. I found masses of spoiled tubes of paint, and a lot of old brushes. Most of the brushes disintegrated when I checked them - the hair had perished and broken. Amazingly, though, some of them were OK.


I found quite a few of these - they had been used, but not much, so I acquired them for my soldier painting. These are Winsor & Newton, as you see (I've included one side of each brush in the picture - they were all marked like this on the two sides. They are also, I'm faintly embarrassed to observe, stamped by HM Stationery Office in 1966, so I guess my dad liberated them from the office stores when he worked for HM Government.  

The big fellow is worn down - evidence of my dry-brushing resin thatched roofs? The No.1 has probably slimmed down a bit, but is still one of my in-use brushes. Now, I'm not saying these have been used continuously since 1966 - clearly that's not so - but they have been used regularly by me in the last couple of years and there is no sign of degradation of the sable since manufacture 53 years ago.

Interesting?

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15 comments:

  1. These brushes do look like crap. W&N Series 7 for me all the way.

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  2. Yup! They are crap...
    I am with Jonathan here... Winsor and Newton Series 7 all the way... and you can buy them on Amazon.

    All the best Aly

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  3. I have some Series 7 coming from Cass Art - Amazon do have them, that's right, and they offer a discounted set, but strangely they don't wish to tell us what size brushes are in the set, so they can stick them in their ear, with my blessing.

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  4. Raphael aren't bad brushes, either. I believe it was Jon whe alerted me to them when the Windsor and Newton were all but unobtainable for a while.

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    1. Yes, Raphael is a great brush too. Have not purchased any in years but one is still on active service after at least ten years of use.

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  5. I use a lot of Pro Arte brushes. They pretty cheap but are always decent. I do buy mine at a local shop though so I pick the best looking ones. Here's an online link.
    https://www.jacksonsart.com/pro-arte-scholarcryl-brush-wallet-set-of-5?channable=e17573.MTUwNTA5&___store=jacksonsart_en&gclid=Cj0KCQjwtr_mBRDeARIsALfBZA7Mv6IUtpeX43nZ4ZjsYTabC4pXPczVEf7Bdnr-mYYsnrtJQNj3nX8aAgi-EALw_wcB

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    1. I also buy my brushes from my local art shop. You can pick and choice the best looking brushes but also the owner is a wargamer.

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  6. I am also a Windsor and Newton man, although I do have a few Citadel brushes which are good. I am fortunate enough to live near art shops, so each brush is hand picked.

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  7. Oh dear Tony, they really don't look that impressive do they! Kolinsky sables are my favourite, from size '0000' to size 2, followed by Daler-Rowney 'Aquafine' sables, and even with daily use they can last a couple of years before being relegated to the second division. I'm still using those that I was using back in the Uk and they're still going strong. I only ever wash them with warm soapy water and reform the point, never brush cleaner, and the use of a wet palette certainly helps prevent the paints drying on the bristles :)

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  8. Buy them off EBay by the dozen size 1 or size 0, dirt cheap easy to use until they turn into undercoating brushes and they can happily lose hairs to become size 00 & 000 too!

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  9. Thank you, gentlemen. I guess I've been buying brushes for 40-something years now, and I've managed to paint thousands of soldiers, so it's not been a complete wash-out, but it amazes me that I find it very hard to form any judgements based on the experience. It is much easier to hand-pick good specimens from a physical art shop, I agree. Over the years I've had a lot of advice, I've bought top-brand brushes and frequently been disappointed, and I've sometimes bought real cheapos and been pleasantly surprised. I guess, roughly speaking, you get what you pay for, but the strongest message is people have to go along with what works for them. I've had all sorts of diametrically opposed advice - a friend recently suggested I just buy plenty of cheap brushes, and there would be enough good ones in there to keep me going. Pretty much Drew's approach, I guess.

    This time I've ordered some W&N brushes, and also a bunch of (disastrous) cheap ones. The cheap ones are useful if I don't want to use the good ones to paint resin buildings - painting buildings you can actually see the brushes wearing down!

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  10. Winsor and Newton Sable for me , tried there synthetics and only fit for dry brushing .

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  11. I get mine from a local arts shop here in Cannuckistan (Curry's), they are reliable and cheap compared to the stuff that is sold in the few remaining brick and mortar hobby stores.
    I wonder if anyone buys brushes from Games Workshop? I'll bet they are crap and severely overpriced.

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  12. If you want cheap synthetic brushes you can actual paint with try Reeves Artist 8 Brush Set. Available on Amazon and ebay-shop round and you'll get them for less than £5.00. A single pack will last for a single army project or so. After that they are only fit for undercoating but for that price that's OK. I buy 5 packs at a time. My Sable brushes are still in the box.

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  13. I consider the sort of brushes shown to be "terrain" brushes. I've tried buying expensive brushes with the intent of looking after them but somehow, once the untrainable monkey gets them in his paws and starts painting they get wrecked almost as quickly as any other. and then I feel bad.

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