Paintbrushes are used to add petal or luster dust in their dry form and/or when coloring with a dust that has been diluted with such things as alcohol, pure oil-based extracts or water (depending upon which type of dust is used). You can employ them when doing intricate details such as applying small dots and lines on petals and leaves or painting features on other objects using food coloring.
Picking Paintbrushes - There are three shapes of paintbrushes I use to color gumpaste pieces, two of which I have in a number of different sizes. It may surprise you to discover that there are differing views on which brush is correct when applying color. So, the right brush for me may not be the right brush for you. Basically, it comes down to which brushes you are comfortable using, so the final decision is yours.
Before You Buy
I would suggest that you make a test run on a piece of scrap gumpaste using any craft or paint brushes that you already have around the house to see if you like them. If you are satisfied with the results you can buy more of these same-shaped brushes. However, if you do not have any brushes to experiment with ahead of time, just buy one or two to determine which will work for you. The good news is that there are plenty of inexpensive brushes out there that will do the job and not break the bank. Remember, since these paintbrushes are used with food products, you will want to reserve them specifically for your gumpaste, fondant and cake decorating needs only.
Which Material Should I Choose?
Synthetic filament brushes are an ideal choice for gumpasting. Today’s technology has come a long way from the old nylon brushes from the past which were much thicker and coarser. The modern synthetic fibers being used nowadays perform very well and are surprisingly quite similar to natural hair brushes. They are very durable, less prone to damage, maintain their shape, are easier to clean and, best of all, they are reasonably priced.
Most paintbrushes have a printed number on their handle. These numbers represent the tuft size of the brush. The higher the number the bigger (wider) the brush is. Typically most art brushes range from #000 to #20. The smallest brushes start at 000, then go to 00, 0, 1, 2, on up. Keep in mind that there are no uniform requirements in sizing with art brushes between different manufacturers, so the brush sizes may not be consistent.
Remember, the thicker the brush (i.e. more bristles) the more dust it will hold. So, if you are applying dust to a large surface such as a molded object or figurine or a tulip leaf or some peony petals, you would want to pick a brush with a larger number (I’d say a #12 or higher). However, using a brush that holds a large amount of dust when working on smaller petals, leaves or objects would not be a wise decision since it would be a waste of your dust as it will stay in the brush’s tuft.
Flat brushes have bristles that are square-ended. When purchasing flat paintbrushes at a craft or hobby store you will find that they are often sold as a “shader”. Their sharp edges are useful for coloring edges and applying color coverage quickly in both broad and narrow strokes. Small, flat brushes are good for tight areas.
Filbert brushes (sometimes referred to as cat tongues) have bristles that are trimmed to create a dome. It is sort of a combination between a flat and a round brush. With its rounded edge it is quite suitable for blending colors and is a very good all-purpose brush for softening edges.
Detail brushes have short, pointed, round tips that are narrower than a regular artist’s round brush. Their sharp points offer great control making them excellent for adding fine details and retouching.