Misfits, Watercolor

DIY storage box for watercolor brushes – easy and quick

I recently started painting with watercolors and bought myself a set with three Van Gogh brushes. As watercolor brushes aren’t too cheap, I researched how to clean, dry and store them properly so that they will last long.

Storing options – what is really recommended?

I noticed that some people recommend storing them with the brush head upwards in a stand or in a cup, while others specifically do not recommend them. Mostly, because one has to be very sure that the brush is really dry because otherwise water and color pigments could run into the ferrule (the metal part that holds the hairs). That could cause all sorts of problems for the ferrule and the wooden handle.

The same goes for fold-up or roll-up brush cases; some recommend them and others don’t. Partly, because the case material can rub against the brush heads and harm them and partly because any residing moisture could cause mold.

Then I saw a storage idea that I really liked, the brush box from artbin. All brushes are kept without touching each other or even the sides of the box and little vent holes ensure that any residing moisture can dry out. Perfect! But… delivery to Spain would take about a month and the storage box would cost almost double the price of my three-brush-set! I had to come up with a DIY idea!!

Stephsfavs DIY brush box!!

What you need: A box with a length that fits your brushes, best if it comes with a lid. I found a small cardboard shoe box (29cm long x 13cm wide x 12cm high). A bit of cardboard. Scissors, a ruler or tape measure and a pencil.

Measure the inside width of your box. Then cut two pieces of cardboard to about 8cm longer than the width of your box. One of the pieces should be at least 4cm wide and the other one about 5cm wide. The second one is a bit wider so that later in the box, the brushes are sitting on a slight angle.

This is how the pieces look later inside the box, bending the little flaps to alternating sides makes them stay in place
Mark two pieces of cardboard
Cut the dashed lines and bend the flaps as shown, alternate bending forward and backward

Roughly measure the diameters of your brush handles. One of mine is about 5mm and the others are 10mm. Cut out little triangles on the top of one piece that are a bit wider than your brush diameters (I guess you could also just make all of them fairly big so that they can hold all sizes).

Then use the first piece to copy the cuts onto the second piece
Set both pieces into the box
I poked some holes into the ends of the box as vents


Place the brushes on top.

The heads should rest on the lower cardboard piece, so that the heads are slightly angled down. That way, any residing moisture won’t run into the ferrule. I plan to let my brushes dry in the box with the lid being open, that way I only need one storage place for dry and wet brushes. When all brushes are completely dry I will close the lid.

Stephsfavs brush box 2.0

I did a second version where I used foam that James had for pipe insulation (any type of foam/sponge would work).


I cut little triangles into the top and halved one of the pipes so that it would sit lower. The length of the pieces depends on the width of your box.
Place foam in box and brushes on top with the heads on the lower rest, done!

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