Some time ago, a member mentioned that he makes paint brushes, but lost track of who that is. I am looking for expertise to answer the following. A french polishing book is describing processes for “dulling down,” i.e., for reducing the sheen. One method is to form scratches via pumice and a dry brush. The description says, “fine natural bristles that are tightly packed… These brushes are hard to find today” and then mentions a boot or clothes brush as alternatives. I’m hoping someone might know by experience what brush is being described and can direct me towards one. I see in other places people saying they stiffen a brush by putting a rubber band around the bristles, so I suspect that getting the bristle fiber right is the key thing and that making it tightly packed may be secondary.
I’ve played with this a little using a random paintbrush and 4F pumice. It is a much more refined result vs. 0000 steel wool. I would like to master this. One note, though, is that I suspect that this method requires a refined surface as a starting point, close to a French polish.
If anyone is curious, here are a couple photos, but be warned that it is hard to get a good photo of sheen. The photo doesn’t capture things well. One photo is just the abraded surface and the other has some wax applied. The was appears to hide all of the differences in the photo, but if you had it in your hands, you’d see there is still a definite difference.
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Forgot to say: In that photo, the 4 quadrants are:
-Near left: 0000 Steel wool (Liberon)
-Near right: untouched, full gloss
-Far left: dry brushed 4F pumice
-Far right: dry brushed rottenstone
The test surface was about 5 coats of (I’d guess) 1 pound dewaxed shellac sanded flat with 320, then a couple coats of even thinner shellac padded on. No grain filling.
Hope this doesn’t go off the rails and away from brushes. Ah, this is the practice piece I used to learn to carve thumbnails on curved edges. I can do them now without all the dipsy doodle scalloped pockmarks. 🙂
Are you referring to a policierr?
Spelling may not be correct but it is a brush made from corn husks and wrapped tightly up to the end. Don Williams talks about them and sells them also. There are also a couple companys on the net that make corn brooms that sell them.
Thanks, Dean, but I don’t think that is it. I believe a pollisoir is used to burnish the surface and apply wax. What I am describing is a bristle brush normally used for painting (I think). It is dipped into a dry abrasive (pumice) which is used to dull the gloss shellac. Steel wool cuts surface to make scratches to lessen the sheen whilst the dry brush technique drags an abrasive powder along the surface.
The use of pumice and rotten stone ( Tripoli ) I’ve done is not with a brush, but with felt pads and fine pounce pads like those used in French polishing
There are a couple schools of thought on the exact process,depending on the sheen you are shooting for, as with any skill. But generally the pumice does the coarse abrading between coats and is followed by the finer Tripoli at the end if you are shooting for a higher sheen. I’m certainly no expert with it, and have only gone through the process when forced to.
They are rubbed in with the pads and either small quantities water or oils like raw linseed oil or mineral oil, then cleaned off with naphta or mineral spirits. Water is not compatible with a shellac finish. I just use mineral oil from the pharmacy.
I have read that residue on carvings is cleaned off with a shoeshine brush, but I have no first hand experience with that. A fine brush might help dust off the residue.
The first piece I ever made at age 9 was polished off with rotten stone at the behest of my mentor. I remember getting sent back to try some more several times until the piece passed muster. I remember the process took me longer than building the piece, which explains my aversion to it.
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