Monday, March 8, 2010

Make your own scraperboard

I've been very busy!! Some nice visitors and company, and necessary cleaning up operations beforehand - and I was asked, last year in fact, to make some images for The Stations of the Cross for our church, but I had too much other work on. I thought I'd have plenty of time this year, but once again, it's a rush. I've pondered for weeks on what to do, and how to do it in an economical way, as well as fast and effective. One wee-hours-of-the-morning rumination brought forth the memory of this method of making homemade scraperboard that I learnt years ago in an art class, and which I used to make the above sketch of my daughter - still in a school uniform at the time, so it's a good ten years ago. This is too big for the scanner and in a frame, so not the best reproduction. It's not the sort of scraperboard you can make those perfect, highly detailed illustrations on, but it's great for loose marks and ready-made textures, which are quite a surprise as you pass over various brushstrokes and layers of polish. Here's how you do it, for anyone who's interested...
I did it on fairly heavy paper the first time, but this time I've used Masonite, as it needs to be sturdy and hung easily with string or wire.
  1. Lightly sand the board so paint will stick - this step not necessary on paper support.
  2. Freely paint with white PVA. Don't worry about getting the brushstrokes too smooth if you want texture. Let it dry well and give it another coat if needed. Dry well again.
  3. Apply wax clear floor polish with a soft cloth, let dry, polish lightly and apply another coat. Allow to dry and harden.
  4. Paint on Indian ink with a large soft brush. The wax will resist the ink at first, but keep at it...
  5. After three or four passes and cross-brushing, the ink will stick and cover the white paint
  6. I varied the edges of the boards, leaving some rough and some covered right to the edge.
  7. Allow to dry thoroughly.
  8. Start scratching!

I use a small craft knife to scrape with, which gives me various line widths from very fine to broad depending on how its held, but you can use whatever works best for you. Brush off loose ink that's been scraped off with a soft dry brush.

* A Warning! I got some raindrops splashed on one of my boards, and the ink just lifted straight off. I'm going to have to work out how to seal them to make them less fragile.

I'm not sure if I'll use this hand in the series - it is my hand and although I tried to make it look more masculine (I have pretty workman-like hands anyway), it still looks like mine. Though this was very quick to draw, I need to get scraping, as Easter rushes up - in between my workshop next week and preparations for that, and 100 other things going on right now. I am hoping it will sometimes be a peaceful, meditative Lenten process in spite of the time pressures.


Robyn Sinclair said...

Wow, Cathy what a fantastic technique.

I don't think your hand, as drawn, is too feminine. Great foreshortening.
Such an exciting project. Have you ever tried drypoint etching? I suspect you'd be a wiz.

Pat said...

Thanks Cathy for the info. This looks like fun. The hand is great. Put it aside until you have finished the others and then look at it again. It will have changed all by itself by then.

laura said...

Your scratchboard sketches are really luminous! I did a few of these in high school (when I was fixated on calligraphy and pen-and-ink) and it was great fun.

Gillian said...

These are wonderful! I'm amazed at what you manage to accomplish when you're so busy. I love that one of A. reading and drinking tea. And the hand is great. Of course I know your hands so I can see the likeness - but you've masculinized it very well. Looking forward to seeing what you do for Easter/church.

Cathy Gatland said...

Hi Robyn - I haven't tried drypoint etching - one of the things I wish I'd done at art school years ago when I had the opportunity and the eyesight!

Pat, thanks for the good advice, I'll take it!

Hi Laura, it is fun - did you use this same method of preparing the boards? It was the first and last time I heard of it at that class...

Thanks Gin - well this is part of the busyness - I 'm also fond of that one of A. It was so quick to do, but is such a reminder of that time of her life!

Art with Liz said...

Oh my Cathy, this is incredible! And it looks like fun. Thank you.

Ali said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cathy said...

How very interesting, both this scraping technique and the way you make your own scraperboard! Thanks for sharing!

... and by the way the hand looks great - only you would be able to tell it's yours...

Tom Barrett said...

This looks really neat. Will have to try it sometime.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I use another method:
1-a sheet of acetate
2-roll on black color
3-wait until it dries

You can use a reference sketch under.
Paint it red and use a light table.


Unknown said...

That is a beautiful drawing. Thanks lots Cathy for the technique. I needed this desperately for my grade 7 scraperboard task.

Cathy Gatland said...

Hi Lindela, I'm so glad this post is still being useful! I loved this technique, must do it again - good luck with your project!