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All Things Ampersand

Featured Video: Demo from Linda Sheets

Linda’s Scratchbord Kit

Scratchbord™  artist Linda Sheets is known for her original animal portraits and beautiful, fun books illustrating pets, their humans and their stories.  Her work can be found in several galleries around the country and through her Etsy store.

Linda shares some of her basic instruction on getting started in Scratchbord through the video demonstrations below.  She includes how to draw on the boards, how to transfer art and how to correct mistakes.  In the second video, Linda discusses basic tools and the strokes they make.  

To see more about Scratchbord in video, tune in to our Scratchbord playlist on YouTube.  

For more information on Linda’s work, her books and Scratchbord Kits, visit her website:  www.blue-eyedponystudio.com

All things Ampersand,
Karyn Meyer-Berthel
Artist & Social Media Specialist
Ampersand Art Supply

Click here to explore the full selection of Ampersand panels and tools.

The World of Scratchbord

Scratchbord™ is its own art all together, not that every medium is different, but what makes scratch art so unique is that it begins as a subtractive art.  Ampersand Scratchbord™ has a smooth, absorbent kaolin clay ground evenly coated with black India ink. Scratch the black ink away with ease and control to crisp white fluid lines.  It is similar to drawing, but in reverse.  Just like other Ampersand boards, Scratchbord™ can be colored, too.  Below I’ve listed some resources and tips for working with Scratchbord™.
This slideshow is from the “A Scratch in Time” exhibition in 2010 in Alamosa, CA.  All work was done on Ampersand Scratchbord.
Working with Scratchbord™:
  • Getting started in Scratchbord with tips from AmpersandStart by drawing your subject matter directly on the Scratchbord™ surface with pastels, plain white chalk or graphite pencil. You can also transfer a completed drawing by chalking the back and tracing over the main lines with a pen or pencil or by using graphite transfer paper. To begin, scratch out all the lines from your drawing on the Scratchbord. Next, scratch in directional lines to show volume. Following the directional lines and repeating them to fill in, start sculpting out the shapes. Go over areas several times that need to be the most highlighted. When the drawing is completed, clean off any scratched clay-ink debris and chalk dust with a very soft cloth. 
  • Repair a mistake: Although the repaired surface won’t be completely the same as the surface you began with, there are a couple of ways to repair areas that need to be changed. For best results, use Ampersand Black Repair ink or Sumi India ink diluted 1/2 with water and gently apply with a cotton swab or small brush over the area to be repaired. Repeat thin applications until the area is completely covered. An airbrush can also be used for larger areas.
  • “The Chess Player”, 14″ x 18″ by Diana Lee


  • Sealing Scratchbord:  Seal Scratchbord™ with an acrylic spray fixative like Krylon® UV Resistant Clear Coating #1309 (Matte) or #1305 (Gloss). It will dissolve fingerprints and even out smudges while also protecting the surface from dirt and water. First, remove all loose dust and debris from the surface with a soft brush or cloth being careful not to scuff the surface. Spray with 2 -3 coats of fixative (as directed on the can) in low humidity, warmer temperatures and in a well-ventilated area. Then, you can frame your finished Scratchbord™ art without glass. 
Tools for Scratchbord:
Coloring Scratchbord:
  • Inks:  To add color, use Scratchbord-Claybord™ Inks that are both waterproof and transparent. For best results, build up the color in diluted washes following the directional lines in the drawing. Other brands of ink can leave heavy residue on the black surface and can be difficult to scratch if not quickly wiped off. For final touch up, apply Ampersand Black Repair ink around the edges of the subject matter to cover any left over residue and over-painting. Once all the color is in, go back and scratch out the highlights. This will give the forms in your drawing volume and dimension. Add more color where needed and repeat this process until you are totally satisfied with the results. 
  • Scratchbord colored flower exercise from Sally Maxwell:  Texas artist, Sally Maxwell, is known for her exquisite scratchboard drawings. Her enthusiasm for the medium led her to develop techniques for using color with scratchboard over twenty years ago. For more information about the artist, please visit www.sallymaxwellsart.com.
  • “Lemons”, by Diana Lee


  • Using acrylic:  Scratchbord, similar to Claybord except finished with a topcoat of India Ink, can also accept both watercolor and acrylic.  For a demonstration in coloring scratchbord with acrylic, check out Rock Newcomb’s article: Acrylics on Claybord.
Educational Resources:

International Society of Scratchboard Artists

“Baby Zebra”, 9″ x 12″ Lesley Barrett


The International Society of Scratchboard Artists  has a special place in Ampersand’s heart.  We are honored to be a sponsor of the society as well as honored that most, if not all, of the artist members prefer Ampersand Scratchbord™ panels for their work.  This unique society has worked diligently to initiate itself and at long last, The International Society of Scratchboard Artists has come to fruition. 
Scratchboard has long been around, a type of engraving and a use in illustration, it is now being embraced as a fine art form.  Scratch art is a subtractive form of drawing, working a darkened surface made black using India ink, by making marks with a variety of tools and oil-free steel wool.  Ampersand carries a line of these accessories as well if you are interested in starting scratchboard work.

The surfaces for scratch art have evolved as well as the art itself.  Before Ampersand’s Scratchbord was used for scratching techniques, there was heavy paper coated with india ink available, which is still in use by many artists.  But now, Ampersand is the proud contributor of the only archival wood panel specifically designed for scratchboard art.  

The ISSA is currently gaining membership and has opened their doors for their first annual juried Exhibition in July.  They are taking entries now through April 25th.  To read the prospectus and find out about entry fees, refer to their website:  ISSA Annual Exhibition.  To learn more about the ISSA, their events and joining as a member, you can find all of the details on their newly developed website:  International Society of Scratchboard Artists.


Thanks for reading,