14 July 2005
Maru Bake - The "Shoe Brush"
This photo from McClain's Printmaking Supplies catalog shows maru bake of various sizes. These are the brushes that are used to mix the pigment and paste on the block. These brushes, like shoe brushes, are made of horse hair and are fairly stiff. There's a long smelly process involved in properly preparing them. The ends of the hairs are "split" by first burning them and then rubbing them on shark skin or a shark skin substitute. I've heard of people using a cheese grater for this purpose. You can also buy maru bake already prepared (more expensive, of course). I've tried both and frankly I'd rather buy them pre-treated. Since the pigments tend to stay in the bristles a bit even after washing, it's helpful to have several maru bake so you can use one for blues, one for yellows, one for black, etc.