Scratch art can be an easy lesson about contrast. Contrast is a big difference between two colors. A common example of contrast is a silhouette.
Scratch art paper can be purchased, but there is a less expensive means of adding this art form to your art program. You will need
- Old file folders or poster board
- Black poster paint
- Dishwashing liquid or liquid laundry detergent
- Brush or paint roller
- Scratching tool
Making the boards can be used as a time killing activity when a lesson ends before the bell rings. Ask the students to color on a piece of poster board or tag board. The coloring should cover the entire surface with a thick layer of wax. The coloring can be all the same color, or swirls of different colors. It is easier to get a thick layer of wax if the crayons are held in their hand for a while to warm them up. It is also best to use a brand name of crayon because the cheap ones have too much wax and not enough pigment. Brand name crayons tend to be more opaque, while the really cheap ones can be transparent.
After the boards are covered, they will need a coat of black paint on top. Mix black poster paint with a squirt of dishwashing liquid or liquid laundry detergent. Soap will help the paint stick to the wax. Brush or roll the paint over the boards in an even coat. If the paint seems transparent, it means there is too much soap in the mix. Add more paint, and give it a second coat. Let dry.
Scratch art is created by removing the paint to reveal the colored wax underneath. Most scratch art supplies for the classroom have wooden picks to use as scratching tools. These can be too soft and dull to get a good line, and are often frustrating to use. Paper clips can be unfolded and used as well. They are sharper and harder, but difficult to hold. If this is the only tool available, try taping the paperclip wire to a Popsicle stick.
Another option for a scratching tool is to save the plastic picks that come in a steak at a restaurant; the ones that say “medium” or “rare”. These are easier to hold than a paperclip and sharper than a toothpick. Cup cake decorations also work well if they have a toothpick like bottom. Some restaurants such as the Hard Rock Café have plastic picks they put into their sandwiches that are also excellent tools.
Plastic knives that have a serrated edge will make parallel lines for hatching and cross hatching.
Examples of art work that look like scratch art can be found at these sites:
Scratch art uses thinking in opposite terms, or reverse thinking. When students draw with a pencil or pen they are putting down black marks. With scratch art, they are leaving black marks. Students develop the ability to think backwards in third grade.