Amy posted a comment on yesterday’s blog post about using gesso to prep cardstock, reminding blog readers that putting *acrylic paints down the drain can be a threat to your plumbing. (If you tend to just read the blog posts right away and don’t come back to see what comments are left, you can miss some interesting stuff!) So what do you do if you don’t want to put a lot of acrylic paint down the drain?
* UPDATE: Amy clarified in the comments below that she was specifically referring to gesso. However, acrylic gesso is a type of acrylic paint that, like other acrylic paints, hardens to permanent coat when dry. If acrylic paint dries inside pipes and enough of it builds up, it can cause clogs. So Amy’s caution about acrylic gesso is apt for acrylic paints in general.
First, you can try to use up as much of the acrylic paint on your brush and palette as possible to minimize clean up. If you have a lot left, brush it over some extra paper, let it dry and save it for another project. In this particular case, we were talking about using gesso to prep cardstock. If you like to use gesso-prepped cardstock, you could prep a number of sheets to use in the future and then you only have to clean the brush and palette once.
Second, if you are working with acrylic paint and need to pause, remember that you can wrap the brush in plastic wrap and then put it in a Ziploc bag. This will keep it moist enough that the paint won’t dry to a hard coat while you take a break. If you don’t have time to clean it and want to use the same brush with the same paint tomorrow or next week, put the wrapped brush in the freezer. Pull it out and allow about an hour to thaw before you use it the next time. This too cuts down on cleaning chores.
Because I wanted a smooth coat of gesso with as little brush stroke texture as possible, I used an inexpensive wide flat foam brush. These things typically cost pennies at the craft store. If you use this type of brush and a throw-away palette (like plastic from packaging), you could simply throw away the brush and plastic and not need to clean a brush at all. (Obviously inexpensive foam brushes are not appropriate for all projects.)
If you do want to clean the paint brush, you’ll find directions in VSN’s “Sponge & Brush Techniques For Stampers” eArticle. The eArticle also has a link to a good quick video on brush cleaning and a couple of good online web pages on brush care and cleaning.
I poked around online this afternoon to look into the subject of properly disposing of acrylic paint rinse water. The accepted practice for dealing with it seems to be to put it in a bucket, let the water evaporate and then dispose of the solids. That keeps acrylic paint tainted water out of the drain and the environment.