August 14, 2011

Necessity is a Mother

My wife brought sumi-e brushes back with her from Japan, including some that her father had gotten from China. I was honored. I had never owned brushes that I did not feel could be easily and inexpensively replaced. These were indeed special and demanded appropriate care.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to buy more books (a trait which defines me, for better or worse), I began to read-up on sumi-e history and techniques. While the lessons taught in each book were similar, the practice of hanging the brushes to facilitate proper drying was strongly encouraged universally. So, before I could truly enjoy the new tools before me, I had to make a brush hanger.

I work with wood almost daily. It is woodworking that pays most of my bills. As a result, I am never without a large collection of wood scraps from which to draw when the need arises. the brush hanger I made was crafted from various trim moldings- T-moldings, base shoe, wallbase, etc.

It was after I had finished the brush hanger that I realized all my brushes were deserving of such consideration. Even my cheapest brushes, previously considered 'disposable', would have a better chance at survival if I gave them the royal treatment that I was giving to the sumi-e brushes. So, when a new brush enters the fold, I drill a small hole in its handle, thread a piece of string through and tie it off. After I use it  and clean it, I hang it on an open brad nail alongside its brethren. Finally, when it has given all it can give and it begins to shed its hair or lose its shape, I lift it from its hook and wing it at the wall above the trashcan.