Recently I received very nice racks for brushes and dropper bottle paints from an Etsy store called TheIronBow. They shipped quickly, and they were well packed with a letter that included instructions on assembly.
The paint rack is completely vertical and holds 54 dropper bottles. Its assembly was extremely simple and required no tools.
Assembly on the brush rack was a little tricky. The letter gave some basic information about assembly, but for the most part you are on your own to figure it out. I had a little trouble. I wanted to assemble it without tools or glue as it really seemed like you ought to be able to considering how the parts are held together. I did manage to do it without tools, but glue was necessary for me. Here’s how I ended up doing it:
No glue yet…
At this point I had to glue the side on in order to get the front on. When I tried without glue the tabs kept coming out of their slots and the whole thing would fall off one side or the other of the back piece. Honestly, most of my troubles stemmed from not wanting to use glue, and the letter did mention that glue would make it easier!
Here it is fully assembled with my brushes in it. As you can see, it will hold a ton of brushes and tools.
For a size reference, here are both racks in my workspace. The paint rack is especially compact considering it holds 54 bottles. That is just over half of what one of my wall racks will hold, and its facing appears to be about 1/3 of the facing of my wall rack. The wall rack isn’t as deep though. I think it would be totally reasonable to have a couple of these paint racks sitting around the edge of your workspace – you would still have almost the entire space remaining and all of your paints would be in easy view and reach. The brush rack also takes up very little room and can hold basically any brushes and tools, although I’m not sure about the triangular Army Painter brushes if you use those. At $20 each, the price is very reasonable. Both racks seem to be solid once built, and probably will hold up very well to typical use.
TheIronBow also sells several other types of paint racks that are good for craft paint and paints that come in pots. In addition, there is a caddy for larger bottles and a rack that holds both paints and tools together. They also sell dice towers, and they seem to do custom orders as well.
Check out TheIronBow at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheIronBow!
A few weeks ago I was in the market for some new Windsor & Newton Series 7’s. I was perusing DickBlick.com and noticed that the W&N Series 7’s were mostly out of stock with no expected restock date. That was obviously very troubling, so I took a look at my other options. Obviously Raphael 8404’s are a great option, but I was curious about the DickBlick Studio (not to be confused with their Master line!) brushes so I bought one. Over the last couple weeks I’ve been using a DickBlick Studio size 0 round sable for most of my work to compare with the Raphaels and the W&Ns.
For a very inexpensive brush, the DickBlick brush is pretty nice. It holds a tip very well. I can’t speak for long-term use, but over a couple weeks it’s kept its ultra-sharp tip as well as I’d expect a Raphael 8404 or W&N Series 7 to with the same care. The only thing about its shape I’m not completely happy with is that if you use warm water to clean it that is maybe the hotter side of warm (but still something you can keep your hands in), it may become slightly deformed. My brush now leans to one side a little after the first time I cleaned it. That has not happened with any of my Raphael’s or W&N Series 7’s.
I typically use a Raphael 8404 for blending. It holds a ton of paint, and the bristles are fairly firm, but soft enough to allow for very smooth brush strokes. The DickBlick bristles aren’t nearly as firm as even the Raphael 8404, but the brush is still more than capable of smooth blending. The bristles, however, are very short in comparison and don’t hold very much paint. In retrospect, I probably should have purchased a size 2 instead as that’s a size I use a lot anyways and it would hold a bit more paint.
For everything except blending I typically use a W&N Series 7 because the bristles hold a super sharp point and they feel a lot more firm than the Raphael 8404. This affords me the most control, and overall these brushes have my absolute favorite feel. For very fine detail, such as tiny eyes, this is absolutely necessary.
For basecoating, the DickBlick brush was fine, just not what I was used to. It also held less paint than the W&N Series 7, which means you can’t get as much coverage from each time you fill your brush. This does slow you down a bit.
When doing tiny details the DickBlick studio brush is also capable, but I still prefer the firm feel of the W&N Series 7’s. I had a more difficult time than I’m used to painting tiny things like eyes, but in the end they still got done.
Overall, if you aren’t able to invest the $12-15/brush for Windsor & Newton Series 7’s or Raphael 8404’s, the $6-9 DickBlick kolinsky sable brushes are probably your next best bet. They are certainly much better than synthetic brushes, and those typically run about the same price. They are also far and away better than the cheap-o “sable” brush sets you can find in any craft store, and those are a similar price as well.
DickBlick kolinsky sable round brushes: http://www.dickblick.com/products/blick-studio-sable-brushes/
Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes: http://www.dickblick.com/products/winsor-and-newton-series-7-kolinsky-sable-pointed-round/
EDIT: At this time it appears that all of their Kolinsky sable brushes are running out of stock with indefinite backorder, and as far as I know this is due to THIS unfortunate bit of bureaucracy. There are still a few sites you can get W&N Series 7 brushes and Raphael 8404 brushes at, but not the DickBlick studio brushes. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.