Sunday, 19 June 2011

Scratchboarding Workshop with Patrick Hedges 18/6/2011

Hi everyone

I just got back from doing an interesting 2 hour Scratchboarding Workshop with my best friend Rosemary (pictured below intensely studying the contents of our goodie bag).  The tutorial was with local scratchboard artist Patrick Hedges and the workshop was hosted by Port Art Supplies in the heart of Port Adelaide  ( ).  They provided us with a nice warm  environment away from the biting cold and we were presented with a goodie bag of interesting and mystifying scratchboarding tools and a small black scratchboard upon which to create.  

Standard Cutting Tools - Pointed (great for fine lines)  and Curved (good for scraping back big areas)
Wicked Looking Cutter and Assorted Blades each of which produced lots of different effects.

Line Tool (which made lovely neat lines) ,  The Fibreglass Tool and Wire Brush Tool
Oil Free Steel Wool

The Black Scratchboard just waiting for us to scratch, scratch, scratch

Anyway, what, I hear you ask, is scratchboarding?  What is this gal on about?  I didn't know either, so to fill you in, a scratchboard is a board you work on to scratch out a brilliant work of art (if you are Patrick Hedges).  It is apparently an old art form that children often did at school (must have been before my time!).

Scratchboards  are either white or black and the techniques and results do differ according to which type you are using.  

Rosemary With Goodie Bag Contents

The black scratchboard is a board which has been coated in a layer of white stuff (technical term - clay I think) and then coated on the top with a layer of indian ink - basically it looks and feels like a blackboard.  The picture is created by delicately scratching away at the black top layer to reveal the white clay beneath.   Each tool creates different types of scratch marks on the board.  A prepared sketch can be traced onto the scratchboard using special tracing paper.  

The design is then painstakingly and delicately scratched out.  The deeper you scratch, the more white it will be.  Layers of watercolour can also be added to the exposed white areas to add colour and these areas can then be scratched away as well to achieve degrees of colour and shading.  The finished work is then given about 3-4 coats of a spray on varnish. Conveniently, the varnish dissolves any greasy finger marks away and removes any traces of carbon paper etc (cool, so much easier to keep clean than watercolour painting). 

A  scratchboard showing some scratching techniques (no I didn't do it - too good for me - this was one of Patricks samples for us to look at)
Layers can be scratched away and areas can be shaded with diluted indian ink and then rescratched again, until you have achieved perfection (which means you can also fix your stuff ups and whoopsies (more technical terms). 

The old man on the sample board above was (I think but am not sure) created using Patrick's "squiggly" technique, if it wasn't that it was the wire brush.  Anyway, below are some photos of Patrick and some of his  scratchboard art done on the black type of board. 
Each one of these superb emus was done on a black board and the black was removed to reveal an exquisite emu.  The white background was mostly scratched away with  steel wool.  The fibreglass brush was extensively used to create them and each one took about 6 hours to complete.  Patrick uses a number of different scratching techniques in his artwork to get the desired effects.  
The Himba (hope I got that right?) Lady from Africa was done entirely with a scratch knife using a technique called feathering, where a lot of parallel lines are used in rows and then more rows are put in about 15 degrees in a different direction (apparently the feathering technique with a sharp knife or cutter is the best to use to do young soft skin).  Washes of diluted indian ink were also used and then the board was re-scratched until she was perfect.  She took him about 60 hours to complete.  
Patrick with his Himba Lady From Africa

Old ManWith Hat

As I mentioned earlier, watercolours or inks can be washed over a scratched board.  Below is a lion's eye which took Patrick about 10 hours to complete - it has been delicately coloured and I think it is amazing!  The coloured chicken used watercolours over the scratched board, and oil paint was used for the background. 

Lion's Eye

Patrick With His Chicken

The other type of scratchboard is a white one.  This is used to create art with a textured finish.  It is coloured with watercolours or inks and then scratched back to create a carved looking surface - this can be done over and over until some amazing results are achieved, as per the orangutan below:

Orangutan scratched on to White Scratchboard
And what did I do you ask?  Well, being me I wanted to test out what each tool did and this was the result:

Heather's Scratchboarding Efforts -da daahhh!

After having done the workshop I've got to admit I am in awe of Patrick's abilities and I think I could get addicted to scratchboarding.  I have bought a couple of little boards to play with and I'll see what I can do.  If anyone wants to check out more of Patricks art here's his website:

Well, that's it for this blog - hope you found this little introduction to scratchboarding interesting.  If you want to try it yourself, Port Art Supplies has everything you need (83 Commercial Road Port Adelaide South Australia  08 8241 0059) and they take credit card (thank goodness).

Cheers all.

Patrick endeavouring to convert us to scratchboarding.

Rosemary hard at work

Everyone getting right into the swing of things


  1. I do remember doing scratch boarding when I was a girl and recently my kids have done it. The board was a rainbow several different colors,then there was a layer of black wax and the black was scratched off to get at the colors. My kids did this also. I doubt that this is exactly the same thing,but it sounds similar. I liked this post!

  2. Rainbow colours sounds interesting!