History of the Airbrush pt 2

Charles Burdick Aerograph Airbrush www.getpainted.com

Pre-School Part 3:
History of the Airbrush cont…

1891-1893 – The reign of the Liberty Walkup external mix airbrush comes to an end when Charles L. Burdick from Chicago invents the internal mix airbrush. This new airbrush had several unique features and more closely resembled the airbrushes of today with a centralized fluid tip, needle, and air cap. It was sleeker, more refined and produced an atomized spray that was softer and more controllable than current external mix airbrushes. In your face Walkup!

The Burdick airbrushes were dubbed Aerographs, and the process of painting with one was called aerographing instead of airbrushing. The first Aerograph was labeled the Model A, it featured a dual action trigger and interchangeable paint tips. Apparently when you upgrade something that already exists, you can call it whatever you want to. Which is why I’ve taken a standard airbrush and welded a samurai sword to it. I call it a Samurair Sword.

Thayer and Chandler Airbrush by Olaus Wold www.getpainted.com

1893 – Norwegian Henry Thayer, and Englishman Charles Chandler’s new and improved internal mix airbrush makes it’s debut at the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair. The new, new internal mix airbrush was easier to use, simpler to maintain and it gave better results with less training. About 4 years later, thanks to a guy named Olaus Wold, who was working with Thayer and Chandler at the time, a breakthrough airbrush design is created where the paint is isolated from the trigger assembly. This made it much easier to switch colors and to clean.

1904 – Jens Andreas Paasche from Norway starts Paasche Airbrush Company.  Offering “The most complete line of Airpainting equipment for Art Studios, Factories and Maser Painters” Paasche continues to refine and improve upon current designs, securing several patents of his own. Notable airbrushes include the iconic red handled Paasche VL Series  (one of the most used airbrushes in the industry) the Paasche AB-Turbo with it’s unique turbine system and more recently the Paasche Talon.

1926 – Iwata Seisakusho company is established. Initially started with manufacture and sales of spray guns and small-sized air compressors in Japan. Credited with developing the world’s first electric, multi-articulated painting robot together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Started manufacture and sales of Airbrushes in 1973. Changed the name to Anest Iwata some years later.

Famous for their Eclipse and Micron line of airbrushes.

1964 – Badger Airbrush Company is born. The founder’s grandfather owned a swiss screw machine shop that was making parts for three airbrush companies (Paasche, Thayer & Chandler, and Wold).

Teflon seals, free standing color cups, and one piece triggers were the first notable advances as well as doing a left handed side feed gun. Badger was also the first to offer different airbrush models with interchangeable parts to help dealers and consumers reduce spare parts needs, two piece break away handles, easy needle access, stainless tips, the first airbrush ready paint, the first airbrush holder, the Universal dual feed airbrush.

History of the Airbrush

The First Airbrush - Francis E. Stanley's 1876 "Atomizer" (Photo www.airbrushmuseum.com)

Pre-School Part 2:
History of the Airbrush

1876 – Like most everything else in life which is awesome or cool that I’ve invented, I also claim to have invented the airbrush but in reality, most sane people agree that Francis Edgar Stanley (the same guy who invented the Stanley Steamer Automobile) invented the Airbrush. Since there’s no real proof though, we’ll just say I invented it. I’m joking, Francis is the man! (genome re-sequencing was my idea though.)

Francis Edgar “Airbrush”  Stanley was living in Newton, Massachusetts and created what he called an “Atomizer”. According to the patent, the Atomizer was used to “spray water colors, India-ink or crayon and also for all kinds of shading in which color can can be used in a liquid state.” The patent office classifies Stanley’s “atomizer” as the first patent of its type and the first in its class and subclass.

The Atomizer was similar in looks/function to an old fashioned hand pump perfume bottle. It consisted of a spray head assembly attached to a paint bottle and a hand pump. There was a small chamber inside the head where paint was drawn up from the bottle via a needle and mixed with the incoming, hand pumped air. The Atomizer also featured interchangeable heads to regulate the spray pattern. This is kind of a strange coincidence because I’ve always used my airbrush to apply cologne. I feel like I get better coverage that way.

1879 – A professional inventor named Abner Peeler from Webster City, Iowa invents the “Paint Distributor”. Patented “…for the painting of watercolors and other artistic purposes.” According to Andy Penaluna of www.andypenaluna.com, “In 1879 an eccentric jeweler from Iowa assembled;

The Paint Distributor - Illustration by Andy Penaluna www.andypenaluna.com

* a jam spoon
* a sewing machine needle,
* a bent over screwdriver,
* old soldering pipes,
* some bent metal
* …. and screwed it all together on some blocks of wood!”

The Paint Distributor featured a spinning wind-wheel with a needle attached slightly off center. As the wind-wheel spun, the needle would dip in and out of the ink reservoir in the spoon. The tip of the needle would pass right in front of a small tube blowing air  and the paint would be blown off the needle tip. The Paint Distributor was powered by a foot pump that fed air into a tank, where it was compressed, and then forced along an attached hose up to the distributor. Cool stuff.

1882-1891 – A dude named Liberty Walkup purchases the patent to the “Paint Distributor”. Some time later he forms The Airbrush Manufacturing Company of Rockford, Illinois. Thanks to some improvements like the revolutionary “walking bar” and a hard rubber handle to enhance appearance, the new and improved Walkup Airbrush was introduced and became an immediate success.

1885 Liberty Walkup Airbrush

Soon after the introduction of the Walkup Airbrush, Liberty forms the Illinois Art School. Housed in the same building as his airbrush company, the school specialized in airbrush technique but taught other disciplines as well. Later, Walkup would go on to publish a quarterly pamphlet dedicated to all things airbrushing called The Airbrush Journal.

*Random note: From the Atomizer to the Paint Distributor, early airbrushes were used predominately for photo retouching. Typically, artists would paint directly on enlarged portrait photos to enhance the photo’s appearance and eliminate unwanted scars or blemishes. This is similar to the way that digital airbrushing and Photoshop are used today for re-touching and enhancing photographs of models before displaying them on magazine covers.

So the next time you’re’ holding an airbrush, pour a little paint out in honor of all the vain people who’ve passed before us and helped to advance the technology of the airbrush to make it what it is today. Just think, if  everyone were happy with the way they looked, the airbrush might never have been invented.

Part 3 – History of the Airbrush continued…