Review – 25-Piece 1” Foam Brush Pack (Walmart)

I’ve been experimenting with some new (to me) “craft-y” techniques using paints and glues and such. Since I’m simply performing tests and I wanted an inexpensive way to acquire enough brushes for my purpose that didn’t necessarily need to stick around (not that foam brushes are known for quality or longevity). I quickly solved this problem at my local Walmart with their large pack of 25 one-inch foam brushes, and really there isn’t much to say beyond that description.

These brushes are a ¼” wooden dowel of the cheapest and lightest variety, with a poorly stamped “not for lacquer or shellac” “warning” on the side, that are attached by a plastic tongue to a sponge too delicate for kitchen work with a wedge on one end. Since the price is only a few dollars for two dozen, none of the materials here are of notable quality, but they do hold together long enough for one to get a few uses out of the things. I’ve found that after 3 glue applications (uses, not individual coats) and subsequent washes, these brushes begin to disintegrate, but this doesn’t affect how they work for at least a few more washes (and paint is obviously a little less harsh on them than glue). Even with foam brushes not being the highest quality at the best of times (where would one even acquire “high-quality” foam brushes?), these do seem to break apart fairly quickly, though not more than I would expect for the price.

I don’t see much of a reason to fuss about which foam brush set to pick up. The nature of foam is that they are inexpensive and allow for easy application of media in exchange for their own durability. This set is a cheap way to get a lot of brushes that will get the job done. If that’s what you need, they’re easy to find in most places.

Review – The Fine Touch 3-Brush Set (1-,2-, and 3-inch Flat)

I’m not a painter, or at least, not very often. Painting is expensive, time consuming, and space requiring. But nowadays there are budget products that are easing the “pain” a little bit. Bopping in to your local superstore and buying a set of brushes with a canvas or two for less than $20 is incredible. And “The Fine Touch” is one of the more visible brands (in my area at least) selling inexpensive painting supplies, like a set of three 1-inch increment synthetic brushes. Do they really work though?

Despite the common wisdom for years being that natural hair brushes are superior to synthetic nylon ones, they have made some improvement in quality over that time. I don’t know if the best synthetic brushes are better than the best natural ones, nor would I claim that these are better than any other brush, but I personally prefer the little extra “bounce” the nylon provides, and they’ve worked quite well for me over several painting projects.

The basic structure is the same as virtually all paint brushes: a wooden handle with information printed on it (varnished in this case) shaped like a paddle with a ferrule on one end that holds in a set of bristles. Conveniently, these also have a hanging hole at the end for easy storage. Everything about them is cheap; the wood is lighter than the bristles, with brush strokes in its finish and burs on the drill holes; the ferrules are a flimsily metal (which will likely rust) that has either cracked or slightly splintered each handle in the fastening process, and the bristles have a bad habit of falling out during the first few uses.

So obviously they aren’t “forever” brushes, but for what they are (cheap superstore brushes) they are entirely adequate to paint with. If you only have a couple projects, just want to get some paint down, or feel the need to ease into things you might not know you want to do “forever”, then they will work just fine for that. You won’t become a master using these, and you might get frustrated with the bristles in your paintings, but they work, and for just getting started, that’s enough.

Review – Sterling Studio 4-Piece Synthetic Brush Set SS-117

One of the problems with painting miniatures (doll houses, dioramas, war game pieces, etc…) is that it’s difficult to find brushes in the right sizes, and even then, brushes can be expensive. But if you’re not going to be doing a whole lot of work with them, how well would an inexpensive brush set like the Sterling Studio SS-117 work? Let’s take a look.

photo-165

Just a bit of a disclaimer, I’m not sure if this set is available anymore or even where one would get it. I got it at an outlet store at a considerable discount and waited to use it a few times before making this review.

photo-164

The bodies of the brushes are quite simple. They are a thin piece of wood painted a dark blue with “Sterling Studio” and the brush size written on the side in white. This is followed by a very cheap piece of crimped silver metal, which holds the orange synthetic bristles. The set include a round, two brights, and a spotter. The brights being flat-ish and semi-rectangular while the other two are rounder and pointier. The differences in the round and spotter are very little save one feels a bit stiffer, but I don’t know if that’s from other factors.

photo-167

The sizes are quite small, 10/0 (0000000000) and 2/0 (00) {Side note: paint brush sizing is weird sometimes} but they aren’t massively different. While the double zero (2/0) is noticeably larger I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make. The bristles are a pretty cheap synthetic material that is quite springy (which I hear is a bad thing, but my painting skill is not fine enough to really notice) save for one which is very stiff. They seem to wear quickly, but they are quite a small surface area so it stands to reason they wouldn’t take much abuse. I know they aren’t the best quality but I’d say they’re about medium seeing as I’ve used much worst brushes. Since they are so small they don’t hold a lot of paint, but they do work well for very fine detail or fine highlighting. I believe the common wisdom among mini painters is use the largest brush you can get away with, and these in most cases aren’t. And while I have used them, I can’t imagine too many scenarios where I would need to.

photo-166

They are quite a cheap set, the wood is weightless, the finish is far from perfect (though fortunately the crimping is not loose), and the brushes will wear out quick. But for the amount of times a brush of these sizes would be applicable (unless you were doing 6mm minis, all of the detail in an already small scale doll house, or all of the detail in an N scale train set) they will do just fine. I can’t say I’d recommend them, but if you might need to paint some fine detail every once in a while, I’d say pick them up if you run across them.

Review – Interdental Picks

I’ve had some problems with my teeth in the recent months. And as such problems usually do in people, this prompted me to get more active about my dental care. One of the items I looked into very quickly was the interdental pick, since most tooth problems happen on the sides of the teeth that face each other because that area is hard to reach, and I’m not a fan of using floss or the amount of waste generated by floss picks (though I do use them from time to time) I’ve used 3 of the most commonly available items and here is what I think.

photo-110

The Doctor’s Brush Picks – Starting off with the least expensive, these picks have a double sided brush on one end and a “toothpick” on the other, which is molded in a fairly hard plastic. The size is good for being able to handle and maneuver in the mouth, but the brush bristles bend easily and make even relatively healthy gums bleed with ease. The brush itself does a fairly good job of cleaning in between teeth but the toothpick part is almost useless, and the brittle plastic can break off very easily.

photo-109

GUM Soft Picks – These medium-priced picks are the smallest of the bunch, and the handles are very small, making them hard to get a grip on and bending (or even breaking) prone. The bristles on the end are soft, and while if one has never used interdental picks before they can seem to hurt a bit they are easily capable of fitting through most spaces in a normal mouth. They clean very well, but only closer to the base of the tooth, and if one is going through their entire mouth, the rubber may start to tear.

photo-111

DenTek Slim Brush – The highest priced per pick item here, these interestingly don’t come with carrying case like the others. The handles are far superior and are easy to hold yet slightly flexible to allow for ease of use. The brush itself is like a very tiny pipe cleaner, with a wire in the center and a set of synthetic bristles running up and down. One has to be careful with these so as to not push the wire into their gums, but otherwise the brush gives a very good (if again only to the base of the tooth) clean. They can start to flatten out and get the wire very bent with use but they are still by far the most reusable of the group.

So there are the three, and I would say, that if you want to have a good handle; go with the DenTek. If you want to get the most of the inside of the tooth clean; consider the Brush Picks. Bt if you want the best all around quality and value, the GUM soft picks are the way to go. They are easily transportable, easy on gums, and in my opinion, clean as well as any of the others. For me the DenTek handles just get in the way and the Brush Picks are just painful. I carry the soft picks with me anywhere I go and I have them at home for when I’m too lazy to floss (and for the record I know these don’t replace flossing). For me they just work the best and are the best interdental picks I have run across.

Review – Plaid 10 Detail Brush Set

Well, while perusing my archives, I found a review of Testor’s plastic cement. And that is when I realized I have a whole set of Modeling stuff that I would count as art supplies. So today I’ll be looking at some of those, starting with one of the cheapest and most universal things, a Plaid 10-piece detail brush set.

20140527-232159
This will be general and cover only the quality of the brushes and not the individual brushes themselves, which might be covered in future installments. First off, the bodies are made of cheap wood that is poorly painted with quite good lettering telling you what everything is. There is a brass-colored section near the end, and some very ugly orange bristles pointing out of it. The section and body are quite sturdy for their thickness and not at all slippery, but not too nice in the hand either.

20140527-232204
The bristles themselves are all right. As previously stated, they are an ugly orange, which doesn’t really matter too much. They are synthetic and have a bit of pop to them, which I like, but others might not. At first