One of my favorite art mediums to play with besides ink is Brusho. So I was super excited when Stampin’ Up! started carrying it. This awesome product is extremely versatile, and there are dozens of different ways you can use it in stamping!
To help you get started using Brusho, I’ve created this short Brusho Basics video. Give it a watch, or read on to learn more about this fun product, including some easy tips and techniques for using it.
Brusho Basics – What It Is + How to Use It
What is Brusho?
Brusho is highly-pigmented, crystalized paint powder that reacts when it comes into contact with water, and other water-based art mediums. You can use it to watercolor stamped images, create colorful card backgrounds, and so much more!
This fun product is made by a UK company called Colourcraft, and has been around for about 30 years. In fact, many professional artists use it in their paintings and mixed media artwork.
Brusho comes in little individual pots of color. Stampin’ Up!® currently offers it in a boxed set of five colors: Brilliant Red, Gamboge (orange), Moss Green, Prussian Blue, and Yellow.
Each color is actually made up of tiny crystals of a few different colors. So you’ll find that, as you work with Brusho, you can actually get several different shades of colors from these.
5 Things You Need to Know Before Using Brusho
Here are a few things you need to know before you use Brusho for the first time:
1. Poke Holes in the Pot Lids to Open Them
Each Brusho color comes in its own plastic pot, that you’ll need to open to use. Although the pots have pull tabs on them, Stampin’ Up! doesn’t recommend opening them this way.
Instead, use a needle or push-pin to poke a couple holes in the top of each lid. This will transform the pots into little shakers that dispense just a tiny bit of Brusho at a time. As you’ll see when you use it, a little Brusho goes a long way!
TIP: Cover the holes in the pot lids with Washi tape when you’re not using your Brusho, to keep it from spilling, and from absorbing any humidity in the air.
2. Use with Watercolor or Coated Papers
Every way of using Brusho requires water or another liquid. So you’ll want to use it with paper that will stand up to getting wet. Some ideal papers to use with Brusho include:
- Watercolor paper
- Shimmer cardstock
- Coated papers, like glossy cardstock, photo paper, or vellum
3. Have the Right Tools on Hand
Some of the tools that are helpful to have when working with Brusho include:
- A water spritzer or spray bottle
- An Aqua Painter (synthetic paintbrush attached to a refillable water barrel)
- Regular watercolor paintbrushes in various sizes
- A palette, some cups, or another waterproof container for mixing Brusho with water and/or other water-based mediums
4. Tape Your Paper Down
If you plan to apply Brusho to a large area of your paper (versus just coloring a single image with it), tape your paper down first. Paper tends to bow when it gets wet, so taping it to a stiff, flat surface will help keep it flat while you work.
Usually, I tape my paper to a watercolor board, with blue painter’s tape. This is just a pressboard piece that I picked up at an art store for a couple dollars. If you don’t have a watercolor board, a clipboard, or even a stiff piece of cardboard will work, too.
One thing to know is that taping your paper down like this will also block the Brusho from getting into the taped areas, and create a border of empty space around the edges. I kind of like that look, but if you don’t, you can always trim it away afterwards.
5. Prepare to Get Messy
Working with Brusho can be messy, since you need liquid to do it. Also, since it’s highly pigmented, Brusho will stain whatever it touches when wet. For this reason, I recommend prepping your work area — and yourself! — for getting messy, whenever you work with Brusho!
- Protect your work surface by covering it with something you can wipe down or throw away afterwards, or that you just don’t care about getting wet and/or stained.
- Clear your work area of any materials, such as finished cards, etc., that you don’t want to get wet and/or stained.
- Wear an apron or work shirt that, again, you don’t mind getting wet and/or stained.
- If the idea of stained fingers bothers you, wear gloves while working with Brusho. Although it eventually washes off, it can take a couple days.
- Keep a roll of paper towels handy!
4 Basic Ways to Use Brusho
To use Brusho, you need to expose it to water or another water-based art medium somehow. But there are many different ways to do that, and that’s part of what makes using Brusho so much fun! To get you started, here are four basic Brusho techniques to try.
1. Make Watercolor Paint
The most basic way to use Brusho is to just mix it with water, and then paint with it. It’s great for watercoloring stamped images, or creating watercolor washes on paper.
You can also paint it over heat-embossed images for an embossing resist effect.
To make watercolor paint with Brusho, sprinkle a little into some warm or hot water, and then mix it with a clean paintbrush or stirring stick.
You can mix it in a palette, some small cups, or even on a waterproof craft mat or ziplock bag.
After mixing it, test your Brusho paint on a scrap piece of the same kind of paper you plan to use it on. This way, you can make sure the color is what you want, and adjust it if necessary, before using it on your project:
- If the color is too vibrant, add more water to the mix.
- Or, if it’s not colorful enough, mix in more Brusho — a little at a time — until you’re happy with the color.
2. Sprinkle Brusho on Wet Paper
You don’t have to mix your Brusho directly with water to use it. For a fun effect, try painting or spritzing a little water onto your paper, and then sprinkle some Brusho over it.
As the color crystals hit the wet paper, they’ll react individually. Those that land on drier areas won’t react much, creating little speckles of color here and there. But those that land on wetter areas will often practically ‘burst’, like tiny fireworks!
If the crystals don’t react as much as you like, just add more water to them. For best control, squeeze a couple drops of water out of your Aquapainter onto the non-reactive crystals. Then give the crystals a moment to react before deciding if you need more water.
To remove excess water from your paper, dip the corner of a paper towel into it. The paper towel will suck the water right up, without disturbing your Brusho pattern much.
Of course, you can also add more Brusho to that excess water, or use a paintbrush to spread it around to some of the drier areas of your paper.
3. Sprinkle Brusho on Dry Paper then Spritz with Water
You can also try the reverse — sprinkling the Brusho onto your paper first, and then spritzing some water on your paper.
What I find works best is to hold the spritzer a few inches above the paper, and then press it a couple times to add a first layer of water. Then, wait for the Brusho to react before deciding where you want to add more.
When adding more water, think about how you want the colors to move across the paper, and then position the spritzer accordingly before spraying.
With both this and the previous technique, you can continue to add Brusho — in one or more colors — and water until you ‘re happy with the finished piece. There really is no wrong combination, as long as you like what you’ve made!
4. Press Your Paper into a Brusho / Water Mixture
One of my favorite ways to use Brusho is to just sprinkle some on a large ziplock bag, spritz it with water, and then press my paper down into it.
While the paper is sitting in this mixture, I run a clear mounting block over the back of the paper, to make sure every part of it gets wet.
This is a super quick and easy technique, that will give you surprise results every time!
Brusho is an incredibly versatile art medium. These few basic techniques are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can do with it! Don’t be afraid to experiment with your Brusho to discover your favorite ways to use it. Although a bit messy to work with, this awesome paint powder will keep you creating for hours on end!