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All Things Ampersand

Tips and Techniques for Using Ampersand’s Claybord

Part two of our Claybord 101 article offers up some tips and techniques for working with various mediums on Ampersand Claybord.  Have any tips of your own?  Leave them in the comments section!

Tips and Techniques

  • To remove a mark, gentle strokes with Ampersand’s oil-free steel wool may be used.
  • Claybord’s coating is thick enough to use a razor blade or scratch tool to reveal the white clay beneath a layer of painted color to give detail and definition to a painting.
  • If you are interested in sealing your work in watercolor, ink or scratchbord for glass-free presentation, we recommend using the Krylon® UV Archival line of spray varnishes.

India and colored inks

  • Apply India ink in layers of diluted washes for soft charcoal-style effects. Then, after the surface is dry, use Ampersand’s oil-free steel wool to create a wide range of soft tonal values or to completely remove the ink without damaging the clay surface. Using Ampersand Scratchbord tools, remove the ink as if you are drawing fine white lines.
  •  Some inks and dyes will permanently stain the clay surface and should be tested first on a small area.
  • Scratchbord-Claybord Inks are formulated for Claybord– they will not stain the surface and are easy to manipulate and scratch through.
  • Claybord works well with pen and ink as fine lines do not smudge and the ink dries rapidly; however, take heed to prepare the board by dusting and wiping down to prevent clogging of pens

watercolor and gouache

  • Painting on Claybord with watercolor or gouache is like working on hot-press paper or illustration board.
  • When using these mediums for clean calligraphic lines, use less water or a dryer brush.
  • After the surface is completely dry, watercolor can be lifted or scratched off with the Scratchbord Tools, an X-acto™ knife, oil-free steel wool or with a wet brush.
  • Make sure the surface is dry before scraping or you might remove too much clay.
  • Many watercolorists prefer Ampersand Aquabord over Claybord because it is more like using a cold press watercolor paper.


  • Acrylics can be applied on Claybord in both washes thinned with up to 25% water and heavy impasto made with gel and texturing mediums.
  • When planning to scratch into or remove acrylics, apply them sparingly because heavier acrylics dry to a very hard plastic film.


  • Claybord is the ultimate surface for airbrush. Colors absorb quickly and remain bright.
  • Instead of using frisket, scratch out fine details back to the white surface underneath.

Casein and egg tempera

  • Claybord is ideal for casein and egg tempera, considering the fragility of these ancient mediums. Both are prone to cracking when dry and need the stability and absorbency that only for good adhesion, apply several thin washes of paint first, allowing each layer to dry completely in between. Then begin painting fine details, gradually working your way down to smaller and smaller brushes as the painting progresses.


  • First layers of oil paint will dry rapidly to a matte finish, due to the absorbency of Claybord. Subsequent layers will dry more slowly and keep their luster.
  • To keep the oils from absorbing into the panel’s coating, consider using Gessobord or following these steps to prepare the Claybord for oil paints.

Dry Media

  • Softer leads with high pigment content work best on Claybord when using pencil or graphite. Claybord tolerates repeated erasing without marring the surface and can be sealed and framed without glass.

Artists Tips and Projects:

2017 Fall Back to School Sale!

The Fall Back-to-School sale on Ampersand panels is going on now and runs through the end of September. Gessobord, Claybord, Scratchbord, our Artist Panel Series (Primed Smooth, Canvas Texture and Unprimed Basswood) and more on sale for up to 50% off at select retailers across the country.


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