Introduction: Pine Pitch + Natural Paintbrushes

Here are the basic materials for making pine pitch (aka awesome waterproof glue that looks like lava).

-Charcoal (on the left), keep some of the leftover charred wood from a campfire (should be burned all the way through)

-Pine Resin (aka, the blood of trees, on the right), find a diseased pine tree, and chip out some resin.

Step 1: Grind It Down

Get a fine grit sand paper (120 is fine), and a bowl or paper towel, and sand down your charcoal. You want to use the dust, so make sure to capture it. You could also use a mortar and pestle, but this is equally as fast (and gives a nice consistent powder).

Step 2: Melt That Resin Down

In a spare, clean, metal can, melt your pine resin. There is a lot of talk about double boiling, so I tried it. Don't fuss about that, it is silly, and takes forever. Simply put the can on top of the stove on low heat, and be careful. Stir it regularly, and take it off occasionally. Don't let it boil. It really hates that, and will make your glue brittle, and sad. You will notice that it starts to melt like butter, this is good.

Step 3: Cloud of Black Dust, and OMG Glue!

After your resin is all the way melted (but not boiling), add your charcoal dust. Once you've poured the charcoal in and have started stirring, will poof into a smoldering black cloud. Just pretend it is something awesome, like a dragon, or an evil spirit, and keep stirring. I got a pretty nice finish with a 1 part charcoal to 3 parts resin, but you can try out different ratios. There is talk about adding in other cool stuff, like rabbit droppings, but I think this simple recipe does the trick.

You can keep this glue and just reheat it the next time you use it. Just keep it covered, and continue to be bad pitches.


If you want to see me make a paintbrush with this glue, just keep reading!

Step 4: Make a Watercolor Brush Like a Grizzly Bear

So here is what you need for the paintbrush part of this.

-Large porcupine quills (ps, don't worry about the porcupines, their quills fall off naturally)

-Squirrel tails or other natural soft fur (eh, you might worry about this part, try to get these as waste from hunters)

-String (can be subbed for sinew)

-Scissors (can be subbed for knife or sharp rock)

-Some of that sweet pine pitch you just made

-Wax paper

You will want to snip off a hank of the squirrel hair, and using the string (or sinew) you want to wrap, and bind the hair on the portion which will go inside the handle of the brush.

Step 5: Cut That Quill

So, you want to cut the quill at the thickest part (generally the side of the quill which attaches to the porcupine). You will also want to snip the sharp bit on the other end (really though, that point is no joke). You can use the small piece that you've already cut to hollow out the inside of the quill. The quill membrane is kind of like styrofoam, so between the quill point, and your scissors, you should be able to hollow it out pretty good. Also, if you want a brush with more space for bristles, you can just cut out a section of the tube (see pic in next step).

Step 6: What It Should Look Like Before You Glue

So, if you are making a slightly larger brush, you can make a little trough for the bristles. Just trim off the top of the tube you have made from hollowing out the quill.

Step 7: Dude, You Just Made a Paintbrush

So here is the sticky part...literally. The pitch glue cools very rapidly, so you have to keep it heated (but not boiling), and you can dip the end of your quill in the glue, quickly add the hair, and using your wax paper, roll it back and forth into a pleasing shape as it hardens. You might give yourself the benefit of testing this out once or twice on a stick, or something less precious than your super cool paintbrush. You can add more pitch to develop your own distinct grip. After everything has cooled. You can just cover your pitch, and keep it for later use (you just have to reheat it), and you get to start painting with your brand new brushes!

Pitch please!