Monday, July 02, 2012

Cleaning an Akashiya Brushpen

I've been a fan of Akashiya brand brush pens for awhile, especially after having reviewed them twice. The natural bristles are the closest to mimicking an actual brush I've found yet, and if you stick to Akashiya ink, you won't have a problem with clogging. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little adventurous, and tried refilling an Akashiya ink cartridge with FW Acrylic Ink, as I've done with Kuretake brushpens in the past. While this works fine with Kuretake's synthetic bristles, the acrylic ink will dry in the Akashiya's natural bristles, making the pen unusable in its currently clogged condition. Although I could have purchased a new tip, I decided to try and salvage the tip instead. Although I don't have any photos of the 'before', you can rest assured that the bristles were gummed together to the point that the brush could not be used, and the best mark I could make resembled an entirely used up drybrush. Not what I want a brushpen for.

I'd tweeted Jetpens asking if they had any suggestions for salvaging my wrecked pen, and 'soaking in warm water' was the solution. Pretty cheap and simple, right?

Step 1. Soak tip of brushpen in hot water until the water is clear.

This requires frequent changing, and took me about four days. I used a ceramic ramekin that was rinsed under warm water, as ceramic is a great insulator and would hold the heat longer, making the warm water bath effective longer.

This photo was taken right after the brushpen tip's first dunking.

After rinsing, things got interesting. The pen tip was still black, and in the past, I would've used actual brush soap. Recently I attended a workshop led by Mark Shultz, who recommended foregoing brush soap (it strips the natural oils from the brush) and using shampoo instead. Though his recommendation was for an actual sable brush, I decided to give it a go with the brushpen, using a sample of Burt's Bees Rosemary and Mint Shampoo Bar. I swirled the wet brush tip on the shampoo bar much like I would have done with the brush soap, taking care to get the soap deep into the bristles, massaging it in, and rising it clean. I repeated this process several times, and then allowed the brushpen tip to soak in warm water to remove the soap residue.

As you can see from this awful photo, the brushpen has returned to it's original color, and its nearly as good as new.

I reassembled the pen with a fresh cartridge of Akashiya brushpen ink, and worked the water out of the tip. Just about as good as new!

NOTE: When allowing your brushpen tip to dry, make sure you roll the bristles between your fingers to prevent splayed bristles.