Chinese calligraphy brush maintenance, part 1: how to safely remove the glue from the hair of a new calligraphy brush
Chinese calligraphy brushes come in two major types. One type has the hair glued in a form of a spear, and the other has the hair released.
The brushes with the hair glued in a form of a spear need to be cleaned prior to using them for writing calligraphy. If the glue is not removed entirely, it will affect the brush life span, the quality of the brush strokes, and the ability of ink spreading.
The glue should be removed by submerging the 3/4 to 4/5 (but never the entire tuft) of the brush a glass of tap or mineral water. The water should be cold or cool, never warm or hot. Hot water will ruin the hair and weaken the hair tips. The brush should be submerged for at least one hour. Then, the remaining glue can be easily washed off under running tap water.
Some sources suggest washing the glue under running water, which is not completely incorrect, however, there are two dangers. One: the glue might not be removed completely, and two: the hair in a glued form are stiff and easy to break. Damaging the hair of the brush tuft may ruin the brush ability to deliver clear and crisp, or uniform brush strokes.
Some of the brushes can be very expensive (a few hundred dollars and more), thus the knowledge of brush maintenance is crucial.
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