20 August 2013

The embarrasingly simple paintbrush-keeping trick

Sometimes... projects fail. It happens.

A good eight months ago I started a project with an old bulletin board that, like all slow-motion trainwrecks, seemed on track at first. I had a bulletin board leftover from high school, I thought it needed some pep, and I busted out my blue paint. Then I painted the whole corkboard a slightly different shade of blue than the circa-1998 sponge-painted border. Because this blog has too many pretty things, dang it. Let’s ugly it up!


And yes, eagle-eyed readers, I painted this back when I painted the somewhat-stolen antique caster table. And according to the timestamp on this poorly white balanced photo, this is how I spent the evening of January 1. Happy new year of poorly-conceived projects!

Although the bulletin board didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, it was, at least, one of the few things I’ve painted this year. After painting every wall in our old house, a few ceilings, and countless pieces of furniture and d├ęcor when back in Nashville, I rarely paint anything anymore. Which means, obviously, I haven’t been sharing any painting tips and tricks very often (although I still have fair share of paint color obsessions).

But! I did take two seconds during my bulletin board paint session to photograph ONE super-basic painting tip! And as it was really the only good thing to come out of that project, I feel obliged to share it before another eight months pass with these photos sitting on my computer doing nothing.

Here’s the tip. We all have faced that moment while painting when we’d like to continue, but the paint needs to dry first. And it’s always some awkward length of time, like an hour or so, so you don’t want to wash out the brushes just yet only to use them a little while later (they won’t even be dry!). You know what to do: wrap up your brushes in a bag, stick them in the fridge. But I’ll be honest: I always feel like I make a mess when I do that. I get paint all over the inside of the bag, which gets all over the handle, which gets all over me when I decide to resume painting and have to fish my brush out. And if I skip the bag and use plastic wrap instead, it dries out around the edges and my brush is ever so slightly ruined.

Here’s the solution: treat your paintbrush like you would raw meat. No, really. When I freeze individual chicken breasts, I turn a sandwich bag inside out around my hand to grab each one. Do the same for your paintbrush! Behold:

One sandwich bag.


Inside out ‘round yo hand.


Grab the paintbrush, ooey-gooey part in your hand...


And carefully (carefully!) pull the bag around the handle.


Seal it up and you’re done! Notice how all the wet paint is at the bottom, NOT around the edges from sticking the paintbrush in the bag the normal way? To get it back out cleanly, just reverse the process (grab the bristles and turn the bag inside-out again). You can do the same thing with plastic grocery bags and rollers – inside-out, grab, right-side out (though honestly, I’d always pull a bag around the entire paint tray to stick it in my fridge). And as I said, on a completely unrelated note, you can do the same with bulk packs of poultry to freeze.

So that’s it! Simple tip... or simplest tip? Yes, I straight-up just illustrated how to put something in a bag. Roll your eyes all you want; I still haven’t revolutionized the way everyone in the world hangs their frames, and that’s about as basic as this. I’ve learned not to beat myself up over what’s “blog-worthy” because, hey, it’s only obvious once you know it.

As for the failure of a giant blue bulletin board? Well... believe it or not, I managed to turn that failure into a happy ending. I think you’ll like it – stay tuned!

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