Scratchboard or scraperboard is a medium I tried many years ago, but haven’t thought about for a long time. Recently I invested in a few sample pieces of scratchbord, which has a smooth black surface on a white clay base, which in turn is built up on a manufactured board. It is easy to use a blade or etching tool to scratch away the black and expose the white below. A little like relief printing, you have to think in reverse, as you are removing the light areas to leave the dark. There are some very proficient artists using this medium, some adding colour for a rich result, but I like the simple contrast of black and white. Last week I was introduced to white scraper board, which just has the white clay on the surface, and shown a simple technique for getting ‘found’ images. Take a feather, dip it in a bottle of Indian ink and swish it randomly across the surface, not trying to control it at all. Next step, once the ink is dry, turn it around until you can see suggestions of an image, then start scratching in till something emerges. You can also draw back in with Indian ink.
As usual, these are miniature images, roughly 7 x 8 cm. The three white-based ones are random images – after scanning I could see different things, so more work may be done on them. The black one is based on the mugshot of a 19th century convict.