Topic: Articles

Tips and Tools: Wax Brush Holders

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Tired of crusty, dried wax on the tips of your brushes? Try these simple DIY brush holder solutions to keep your brushes suspended in water so they don’t dry out. 

Wax Brush Holder by Linda Arbuckle

My majolica decoration methods require a lot of waxing. Since I’m  using the wax frequently, I prefer to leave my wax brush suspended in water so it doesn’t dry out. I’ve used spring clothespins and narrow-necked containers for travel (1), but really an aluminum watercolor brush washer (available at most craft supply stores) is the best. I put a recycled plastic jar in the metal holder (ditch the perforated tray), and it works great for holding wax brushes suspended, so you don’t get a bent brush tip (2).

Over time, storing the brushes in water may loosen the glue that holds the bristles in the brush, and the clump of hair comes out of the handle (especially on bamboo brushes). If this happens, I gently wash off any debris from the wax, dry the parts, and use carpenter’s  glue to fix the bristles back in the handle.

One more tip—if you do get dried wax in your brush, a laundry de-greaser (I use Shout®) can be used to gently shampoo the bristles and will take most of the wax out.

 Linda Arbuckle’s brush holder for travel consists of a simple container, in this case a glass jar, and spring clothespins to hold the brushes in place so just the bristles are submerged in water.  Arbuckle’s studio brush holder is a converted watercolor brush washer that uses a recycled plastic jar instead of the perforated tray that is typically included with the holder.  A brush holder made from foam pipe insulation. The foam pipe insulation was cut to length with scissors and slots to hold the brushes were cut in using an X-Acto knife.

Foam Insulation Holder by Forrest Sincoff Gard

The Ceramics Monthly editorial staff also came across another great DIY solution to keeping brushes suspended in water—using foam pipe insulation made to fit a ¾-inch diameter pipe. Foam pipe insulation can be purchased in the plumbing department at most home improvement stores. The outside diameter of the foam is 1½ inches, which give plenty of room for brush slots, while the inner diameter easily fits around the rims of most water containers (3).

Measure the bin or container that you use for rinsing brushes and cut the pipe insulation to the correct length with scissors. Use an X-Acto knife to cut 1-inch slots in the foam for the total number of brushes that you normally use.

Tip: For brushes with wider handles, make the slot slightly longer (1½–2 inches). Place the foam over the rim of your container and insert brushes, adjusting their placement so just the bristles are submerged in the water.

Send your tip and tool ideas, along with plenty of images, to editorial@ceramicsmonthly.org. If we use your idea, you’ll receive a complimentary one-year subscription to CM!

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