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Tutorial - Scraperboard

Creative Process for Weaving II

I had been asked by someone who liked a previous scraperboard I did of a woven basket to do a larger version to fit a blank wall space in their house. I recently attended a weaving workshop, at which I only got part way into making the base of a basket with natural raffia. The raffia has a beautiful, fragile texture and line to it which perfectly suits scraperboard so it was a match made in heaven.


1 sheet of 30cm x 50cm Esdee Scraperboard

1 light blue pencil

3 different scratchboard blades (pictured)

I order my scraperboard / scratch board and scratch tools online from Cavalier Art Supplies or Melbourne Etching Supplies

I started by taking some photos of my hand holding the woven piece as I am poor at drawing body parts from imagination and prefer to work from photos and I also had the weaving and some extra raffia on the table as I worked. So I was worked partly from a photograph and partly from life to create this scraperboard.

I did do a few quick sketches to make sure the composition of the photograph translated nicely but I am much better working as I go, so the sketches were truly nothing special and off I go.

On the scraperboard I first rule my border and then do a similarly lazy outline to work to, just so that I start with the proportions right. I make the lines with a light blue pencil, and on the Esdee scraperboard this rubs away easily afterward (on other cheaper scraperboards I have found that chalk is easier to remove). In this case I ruled the border to fit a frame with 11.5” x 15.5” internal matt board dimensions.

Then I pick a part of the photo with some highlights and off I go. The different scraper blades produce lines of different thicknesses. In creating the illusion of light hitting the hand, I have used the thinner blade to draw guidelines and then used the thicker ones (useful scraping away greater amounts of ink at a time) to make my lines in the brighter spots and graduated down to the thinner ones for the lines in the shadows. I tend to make my lines in the shadows shorter and further apart.

After the hand I drew an outline for the woven piece and started with the parts of it that were in shadow, and worked my way into the brighter bits.

I drew guidelines in for the raffia and then worked on one strand at a time both.

Then I drew in guidelines for the shadows on the table and drew my table lines in last around the shadows.

The way I work on scraperboard – as I go – rather than doing a lot of sketching beforehand – it is necessary to work from the foreground to the background as shapes move, and sometimes I change the composition part way through a piece. Often I start on a foreground without working out what the background will be until I get up to it.

I love scraperboard because it is such a simple medium to use and get started with, no busy set up and pack up, and delivers such a dramatic result.

© Joanne Stead 2015

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