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A brush can be a lot of different things. All brushes have a long part at one end to hold (the handle), and hairs or bristles (short, hard hairs or pieces of plastic) on the other end (the head), and we use them for cleaning, making hair look good, or painting.
Brushes for cleaning
There are a lot of sorts of brushes for cleaning, for example toothbrushes or brushes for cleaning the floor.
Paint brushes can have three shapes:
- Round: The long, close-together bristles of these brushes mean they can hold more paint. This is why many artists like them for painting large things and for color washes.
- Flat: These are good for spreading paint.
- Fan-shaped: These mix paint well.
- Clean paint from brushes after you use them. This is very important for oil and acrylic paint because when the paint is dry, taking it off can break the brush.
- Never leave brushes in water (etc.) with the bristle end down. This is because the bristles can change shape.
Sizes and materials
The sizes of brushes used for painting and decorating (changing the colour or look of a room) are usually in mm or inches. This shows how wide the head is.
Here are some sizes:
- 1/8", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 7/8", 1", 1¼", 1½", 2", 2½", 3", 3½", 4".
- 10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm, 50mm, 60mm, 70mm, 80mm, 90mm, 100mm.
Artists' brushes usually have sizes with numbers, but there is no standard.
From smallest to largest, the sizes are:
- 7/0 (also 0000000), 6/0, 5/0, 4/0, 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30.
We use sizes 000 to 20 most often.
Bristles may be natural -- either soft hair or hog (pig) bristle -- or synthetic (man-made).
Artists' brush handles (the part of the brush we hold) are often wooden, but the cheapest brushes may have plastic handles. Many cheap handles are made of unfinished wood; better quality handles are of finished wood.