Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cleaning in your studio

Changing the way you make your art - whether for your own health or to lessen your impact on the environment - does not only apply to the way you make your artworks. You could be painting with natural homemade paints, work with plant dyes or even work with bits of waste that you collect from sidewalks, but still have an incredibly detrimental impact on your own health and the health of our environment due to the chemicals you use to clean your studio.

If you're wondering what I mean, go and read this information (click here) on the Spotless Living website. Also read 'Does it Matter'. Spotless Living has been an incredible tool in my own life, giving useful guidelines and alternatives for personal care and household cleaning. Here's some of those guidelines that applies to your work and cleaning in the studio.

To clean paintbrushes

  • Soften paintbrush bristles by soaking in a cup of hot vinegar for about 30 minutes.
  • Then sprinkle on a little bicarb and stir around.
  • You can also use soap and water to wash them and get all the paint out.
  • Rinse with warm water.

To clean hard dry paintbrushes that you forgot to clean

  • Soak the brush in vinegar for an hour or so until you can bend the bristles.
  • Fill a saucepan with vinegar until the brush bristles are covered.
  • Bring the vinegar to a boil and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a minute before removing the brush.
  • Gently comb the brush with your fingers. The paint will still be attached but will fall away as you comb it.
  • Rinse the brush under running water to release the loose paint.
  • Depending on how much paint there was you may need to repeat steps 5 and 6 a couple of times, but before you know it your paint brush will be ready for another round!
Also read William Burgoil's method to clean his oil paint brushes.

General tips

  • With some of your cleaning you could just use water. Try cleaning with water first, before reaching for a bottle of cleaning liquid. 
  • When using non-chemical, natural cleaning materials you can empty your bucket into the garden. 
  • Use old rags or microfibre cloths for most cleaning jobs. Soft cloths are best for wood and metal surfaces.
  • An old toothbrush is great to clean some of your artmaking tools

Using glass as mixing palette, monoprints or other printmaking?

Window and glass cleaner

  • Mix equal parts of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a spray bottle.
  • Alternatively use vinegar infused with lemon or other citrus fruit peels. Simply add some peels to a bottle of vinegar and allow them to soak for a few days before using. The more peels and the longer you let them soak the more powerful and fragrant the infusion will become.
  • Spray onto windows or any glass surface and wipe clean with a rag, or buff to a shine with crumpled newspaper.
  • Or, spray glass with 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide and wipe with a clean rag

Messed on the walls while being wildly creative?

Wall wash

  • To clean painted walls or painted woodwork, mix one cup of vinegar, one cup of bicarb and three cups of warm water.
  • Wipe dirt from the surfaces with a soft cloth dipped in the mixture, and rinse with clean water.
  • Use this same mixture to prepare walls or surfaces for painting.

Try these in your studio and let us know whether it works for you. Also share any other cleaning solutions that you have found effective and eco-friendly.


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