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February 10, 2010 / margikimball

The Possibilities of Scratchboard

Scratchboard Engraving from Chris Gall (Source:

Scratchboard is a technique developed from wood, metal and linoleum engraving, is a traditional method of illustration originating in the 19th century. In this method, knives and various tools are used to scratch into an ink-coated clay board; this is an excellent way to get thin lines, high contrast pieces and a range of textures. The highly dramatic possibilities of scratchboard lend itself well to poetry, an often poignant and stark form.

To this end, for this next assignment, you will be choosing a poem and developing an illustration to accompany it. We will be compiling these poems and drawings into a book, which we’ll self-publish online.

I recommend Dick Blick for materials, and their Scratchboard page is conveniently located here.

Sarnoff’s in Tucson will also probably have pre-inked clay scratchboards and the tools you need for decent prices.

Happy scratching!



Leave a Comment
  1. Miguel / Apr 7 2010 4:20 am

    Is this assignment still ongoing? If so, can anyone join in the fun?

    Sounds like an exciting project

    • margikimball / Apr 7 2010 5:41 am

      Hi Miguel! This project is actually finishing up and our class book has gone to print. But thanks so much for your interest and feel free to get in touch again if you’re interested in subsequent projects!

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