Creating an art piece requires more tools than just canvas and medium. There are other things, such as blending tools. The tortillon and blending stump are the best-known tools for blending dry medium, but which one should you use? Tortillon vs. blending stump – let’s compare the two to know their difference. It’s vital that we look into their appearance, effectiveness, and other properties.
Difference in Appearance
First and foremost, let us establish that tortillon and blending stumps are similar in appearance. The difference comes in how they were made.
The tortillon and blending stump are made of paper, and they often come in the color white. The tortillon is made of tightly-wound thin paper. One end is wounded to create a point that is perfect for blending or smudging narrow areas. The tortillon also comes in many sizes.
The blending stump is also made of paper, but it is compressed and molded to make a stump with both ends resembling cones. Generally, the blending stump is made larger than the tortillon. It has more coverage which is perfect for making shadows and backgrounds. But manufacturers also sell it in other sizes, so there’s no problem in that area.
The papers used are also different. Tortillons are made with much rougher papers than the paper used to create blending stumps.
Difference in Performance
Although the tortillon and blending stump are similar in appearance and are both made with paper, there is where the similarities end. Being made with a rougher type of paper, tortillons hardly blend. Its end also tends to bend, and it also wears off quicker.
On the other hand, the blending stump has soft velvety points on both ends. The texture allows for smooth and seamless blending. Despite being made with comparatively softer paper, the blending stump is firm. Its fine ends do not bend.
When the blending stump becomes blunt, you can easily sharpen it using sandpaper before giving it another go. The same could be said for the tortillon, although I advise you to be really careful. It is easy to bend the tortillon’s tip, and when that happens, it may not be capable of serving its purpose anymore.
So when it comes to the performance of the tortillon vs. blending stump, the blending stump takes the cake.
Difference in Cost
But why do artists use tortillon if it is not as efficient as the blending stump? That is because blending stumps prove to be pricey when it comes to cost.
Tortillons, as you can imagine, are less expensive than blending stumps. To give you an idea, you can buy ten tortillons for the price of one blending stump.
Tortillon does its job somewhat, although not as well as blending stump. If you’re on a budget, you can buy tortillon in multiple sizes instead of one or two blending stumps.
How to Clean a Tortillon Vs. How to Clean a Blending Stump
Most artists that use tortillon throw them away as soon as they wear down, blunt off, or get saturated with dry medium; they are inexpensive after all.
Cleaning a tortillon is the same as cleaning a blending stump. There are two ways to go about this.
Rub with Kneaded Eraser
Get a clean, kneaded eraser. Rub the pointy ends gently until the dry medium comes off. You can expect this method to work much quicker on the blending stump than on the tortillon.
Dirt clings to the rough paper more than it does to the smoother one. So, you can also expect that it may not work on the tortillon at all.
Yes, sanding the tips not only sharpens them, but also cleans them. The dirty layer comes off, and the new clean layer is welcomed. But be gentle when using sandpaper.
Do not damage the tip. The tip makes the blending tools work. If it is damaged, how else will you use them?
When either the tortillon or the blending stump is too dirty or damaged to reuse, dispose of them. Blending tools are not supposed to last for decades.
Unless you have other uses for them, of course.
The art tools are supposed to help you create a beautiful art piece. You need them to work for and with you, not the other way around. Forcing them to work when they can no longer serve their initial purpose may do more harm to your art than good.
Sometimes working with your finger, a piece of cloth or tissue paper does not quite get the results for which you are aiming. Besides, you are more likely to get dirty fingers with them, and dirty fingers lead to smudgy art pieces a lot of times. Hence, the help of the tortillon and blending stump. To think tortillon vs. blending stump, realize that one is not better than the other, only different tools serving different purposes for various artists.