How To Clean India Ink From Brushes – Simply Do This

how to clean india ink from brushes

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My first experience with india ink came about when I was a teenager trying to make my own tattoos with a couple of the neighborhood kids. Lucky for me we failed miserably and I got ink everywhere and learned pretty quickly how hard and easy it is to clean.

Cleaning india ink from brushes is a relatively easy process that is not difficult to learn. Keeping brushes clean will ensure they perform as they should when you are creating your projects. You may wonder how to clean India ink from brushes.

How To Clean India Ink From Brushes

The key to maintaining brushes is to keep them moist. If you are actively using different brushes simply wetting them with water if they are not in immediate use will keep ink from sticking to the brush and drying out. Further cleaning involves using store bought cleaning solutions or gentle soap along with water. I recommend using something like laundry soap bar (any well known brand will do). Lather up a bit into the palm of your hands and then rub the brush and india ink into and massage. Rinse and repeat until the ink is gone.

It is important to not allow ink to dry on brushes because this will affect their performance. Don’t allow brushes to sit in water. When you have finished using your brush, gently swirl it in a little soap or cleaning solution, then rinse it with water.

You see the funny thing about india ink is that while it is waterproof it is also water soluble and so you don’t need any fancy products or alcohol to remove it. India ink becomes a problem once it is dry, not while it is wet.

Your brushes are ready to store for later use at this point. Cleaning all the way to the ferrule is beneficial, but not entirely necessary.

If you have some residual india ink on your hands then repeat the process of washing with soap and rinsing until it is all gone.

If the india ink has dried then you need to ask yourself if you need that brush, can you replace it easily or do you really want to clean it? Cleaning dried india ink requires the use of alcohol and lots of scraping and rubbing. By the time you have finished there may not be much or a quality brush left to use.

india ink

Keeping Brushes in Good Condition

Proper care of your ink drawing brushes is crucial to keep them in the best possible condition. Brushes come in all kinds of sizes and styles, as well as costs. High quality brushes are made with real hair and can be very expensive, so it makes sense to learn how to keep them in shape. Synthetic brushes perform well and can handle a little harder use, but should still be treated with care to extend their longevity.

One of the keys to cleaning your brushes so that they will last for a long while is to clean them out as meticulously as you create art with your India ink. If you use the ink with brushes every day, it’s ideal to switch them out and allow your previously used brush to dry. This way, you can save money and avoid the headache of having to replace your brushes often.

What is India Ink?

India ink, also known as Chinese ink, has been used for a long time in printing and writing applications. It is made from fine soot, water, and often has shellac for a binder that gives certain qualities like sheen and durability. India ink is used in modern artistic applications like comic books, blotting, watercolor, and outlining.

Different Types of Brushes and Tools

There are a large number of artists who prefer to work with brushes to get the desired effect with their India ink. India ink can be applied using a wide range of brushes, as well as other tools. Brush bristles are made with synthetic, natural, or a combination of hairs. They come in round, filbert, flat, fan, or angular shapes. Chinese calligraphy brushes have long been a favorite among ink artists because of how they don’t tend to trap ink in them. 

Other tools for applying india ink include pens and it may be found in stick form. Many people use nib pens to work with India ink. Some of these are designed for use in drawing and there are other pens that are ideal for calligraphy purposes. 

Differences of India Ink and Other Mediums

Not all inks are the same. In fact, there are several different types of ink made in different ways with varied viscosities. Some of the most commonly used artists inks include:

  • India ink
  • Alcohol ink
  • Airbrush ink
  • Acrylic ink

India ink has the benefit of allowing fine artists greater control and detail. It truly is a beautiful medium with which you can experiment for artistic projects that require precision in line work. 

Suitable Surfaces for India Ink

Because india ink is a fluid medium with a watery consistency it is best applied to non porous surfaces. A smooth paper that will hold the ink will aid application and give desired results. Porous papers do not work the best because they will absorb too much ink and require excess application. Some common types of paper used with india ink include:

  • Laminated MDF boards
  • Synthetic paper
  • Yupo paper
  • Acrylic surfaces
  • Canvas

Experimenting with different types of surfaces can help you develop your particular style and techniques. In time, you will find preferences in surface types that suit your needs. You might end up developing work that you feel proud to share with others, whether that’s just your friends and family, or you decide to enter your art into exhibit shows. 

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Joe Colella - Chief Wasted Talent
Joe Colella – Chief Wasted Talent

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