Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Think back... think way back! to crayons and paperclips...

Remember taking a piece of paper and covering it with all kinds of wild crayon colors and then covering over all of the colors with black crayon? Remember how much fun it was to take an uncurled paper clip and scratch through the black crayon to the colors below - watching your bright creation unfold before your eyes?

I had that kind of deja vu this week when I was at our Prescott Valley Art Guild meeting and I watched Joseph Robertson demonstrate how he does his scratchboard artwork. Needless to say, my childhood creations were nothing like what he was showing us!

For one thing, he was using Ampersand's clay coated scratchbord which is a few hundred steps up from paper. This is (according to their web site) a "clay coated hardboard panel for scratchboard that is coated with India ink".

Joe had all sorts of tools to scratch through the India ink to the clay surface beneath it, including some I would have never expected to be used for scratchboard. For instance, he used an eraser to create a softer edge around his drawing.
That little white bottle up there? That would be Windex! A little bit of Windex on a paper towel (note the crumpled piece of black and white paper towel to the left of his artwork) and you can remove the ink from the clay surface. Using that method gave a very subtle and soft looking area in the lower left of his artwork which was destined to become a cactus.
Then came the color...
Watercolor, ink, and thinned acrylic paint are a few of the things that Mr. Robertson suggested for adding color. His favorite pigment for adding color, though, is thinned acrylic paint. Once the paint is thoroughly dry as well as all the water in the ink around it, then you can actually go back with your scratchboard tools and add highlights or more lines which can also be colored.
According to Ampersand, completed Scratchbord artwork may be finished with a spray fixative and framed without glass.  Hmmmm.... another good reason to use thinned acrylic paint for the added color - that would be a much more durable medium for framing without glass.
Aren't demonstrations fun? I am always learning something new when I watch someone else work.  How about you?
Happy creating,
Be sure to check out Joseph Robertson's website to see more of his amazing artwork!


  1. I was just thinking about making these with the girls!!

  2. Wow! What Robertson did with scratchboard is amazing! I do remember doing scratchwork the way you describe it back in grade school. Every scratch was a wonderful REVEAL.

  3. Cynthia - haha - what fun! Another source said that you could color the paper (Bristol I think would be good - or card stock) with crayon and then coat the crayon with black india ink. I haven't tried it that way, but it might be interesting.

    Judy - he really has amazing skill with scratchboard and some of his are huge! Even our very simple grade school scratchboard was lots of fun, too!

  4. How interesting! Unfortunately, I'm only a spectator but appreciate all I see.

  5. Beautiful work and a great demonstration! Thanks for sharing Kathy - I'm off to see more of his stuff :)

  6. Wow...his work is awesome! What a fun technique!

  7. How fascinating! It's amazing what you can do with such a simple technique.

  8. Love the scratch board. I may take a class in it one of these days.

  9. Sounds like an inspiring presentation. I love going to our local quilt guild meetings -- I always learn something new.

  10. Thanks, Jane! Your photography is lovely!

    Thanks, Lee - he does do amazing scratchboard artwork!

    Thanks, Edi! It is a fun technique and, I agree, his work is awesome!

    Very true, Rose - makes me wonder who first thought up the idea!

    What fun, Pamela - I know there are some online classes. It was great to see his demonstration!

    pasqueflower, I always learn something new, too, when I see the demonstrations at the meetings. What fun that you have a quilt guild!

  11. Wow... That is beautiful. I spent hours as a kid doing that technique!

  12. I had lots of fun doing this, too. I think we had an old Bounty challenge for this, if I recall correctly!


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