Tuesday 5 November 2013

The needle and the damage done

I've missed a couple of Union assignments recently because of workload. This month's question: What is your preferred airbrush/paint brush manufacturer?

Aeons ago, back in the early 80's, I was an airbrush illustrator, producing images for design studios and ad agencies in Manchester. I started out using a Devilbiss Sprite, a half-plastic/ half-metal double action brush which was adequate for most projects, but after a few years I decided to upgrade to a more professional brush. I chose an all-metal Japanese airbrush called an Olympos, and I loved it. It was perfectly balanced and capable of ultra fine lines (I was spraying inks, mostly). At the time I couldn’t justify buying another of these brushes for my modelling, so the Devilbiss gun was relegated to that role, and again, it was fine for most purposes. In the early 90's I bought my first Macintosh computer for work (a IIcx for anyone who’s interested) and the days of cutting thousands of frisket masks were over. At that point, the Olympos did become my modelling airbrush, and it proved just as adept at spraying enamels as it was watercolour-inks.

In 1993 I emigrated to Canada, and for various reasons – not least a contentious divorce – I barely touched plastic for five years while I tried to get my life back in order. When I finally was able to return to modelling I discovered the needle tip on my Olympos was broken, but was unable to find a replacement. Frustrated, I looked for an alternative airbrush and ended up buying an Iwata HP-B. When I got it home and started playing around with it I was amazed at how comfortable and familiar it felt. After a while it dawned on me why: the Iwata was the exact same brush as the Olympos, just the company name had changed. I bought another Iwata needle and kept the Olympos as a back-up.

I’m still using Iwata brushes exclusively simply because that’s what I’m used to, and because they perform perfectly as long as they’re properly cleaned. Spares are expensive, but I've rarely needed them. As a testament to their reliability, that original Olympos is still in working order 20 years later.

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  1. I know what you mean by the brush being apart of you.....
    Great write up.

  2. Great post, and welcome back to the fold. Iwata seems like a good choice, seen a lot of modelers using that