Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We have a zebra-loving boy here.  Really…he loves them.  He can spot the smallest little striped zebra on the book across the library…and does not use his library voice to share his find!  He can’t really say zebra, and instead has settled on “zaza”.  I knew I needed to document and indulge his love for this striped beast so have been stirring up the artistic juices lately to see what spoke to me.  In the end I found the perfect inspiration and medium in a scrap of scratchboard left over from my college days.  Scratchboard is a fantastic medium and so much fun for children…it’s kind of a magical process to little eyes!  A cardstock sheet is covered with a thin layer of china clay which is covered by a thin layer of india ink…using a sharp object the india ink is etched off revealing the white clay.  Perfect for a zebra! 

I sketched my idea then layed the sketch on top of the scratchboard and traced over the lines heavily with a very thin and very sharp pencil.  You don’t want to dent the scratchboard, just make enough of an impression to be able to detect.  This was the tricky bit as the paper in my sketchbook is of a heavier weight…I had to do a little experimenting to find the right pressure.  Once my lines were traced I started etching away the areas that I wanted to be white.  I will admit I found myself extremely confused several times while working on that little guys face…white or black or…white…or…?!?!  I kept my drawing close, kept my tools sharp, and the lights bright!  I found a great little frame that just needed a coat of black paint.  We are very happy with the result…especially this little man cub of mine!  In fact even as I’m writing this he has been standing at my side pointing and calling out  “zaza” for the past again and again for minutes!!!! 

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(On a side note…there is also scratchboard with a mulit-colored clay layer so the image you scratch off is colored….like this…which would be a blast for kids.  The same effect can be done with coloring a paper completely with oil pastels painting black on top and scratching it off.  I think I feel a tutorial coming on!)