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Eco-Art Crafts Made by You

Make A Crayon Etching


Haunted House by Marilyn Brackney

Marilyn Brackney's web-based Imagination Factory teaches kids of all ages how to make art and crafts using common trash as a source of free materials. It is easy to use. The Trash Matcher section allows visitors to find appropriate art activities for the solid waste they have available. while the Project Matcher section provides a list of projects you can make with odds-and-ends at hand. With permission, we have adapted one project of 59 provided on this site.

Crayon etching is most like a commercial art technique called scratchboard. With this method, the artist brushes India ink onto a specially coated support such as illustration board, and when the surface is dry, white lines and areas are scratched out with a cutter or knife.

Scratchboard was very popular in the first part of this century. It allowed graphic artists to use line to produce half-tones or "shade" work for reproduction in newspapers and magazines. As a commercial art technique, it's been replaced today with computer-generated graphics.

While scratchboard isn't popular commercially, it's still a fun and interesting art technique. If you recycle and reuse materials to make the art, you'll help save natural resources, landfill space, and money.

You Will Need:

  • Scraps of white paper or illustration board or mat board
    (Check to see if a local framing shop has scraps.)
  • Crayons
  • India ink
  • Soft rag
  • Paint brush
  • Masking tape
  • Scratch tool (Make one by reusing the point of an old compass--remove the pencil, close the tool and tape it shut with masking tape. Or make a scratch tool by taping a finishing nail or large embroidery needle to the side of a pencil.)


Detail of crayon etching by Marilyn Brackney

Using crayons, begin by coloring random shapes or patches all over a smooth, heavyweight scrap of paper or a piece of illustration or mat board. Give each shape several coats of color or press down on the crayon to make sure the shape is colored heavily. Work with bright colors, and avoid using black, because it won't show up under the India ink. Avoid using metallic gold, silver, and copper which are difficult to work with.

After the entire paper or board is colored, you're ready to brush on the ink. Since crayon is a waxy material, it will tend to resist the ink when it's applied. To help the ink stick to the paper or board, remove some of the "waxiness" by lightly polishing the crayon with a rag. Brush the ink onto the crayon, and if it resists the ink, patiently move the ink around till it sticks. Allow the board to dry completely before continuing.

Before you start scratching out the design, decide on a theme (for example, a stained glass window, a quilt block a cat or a robot) and make a simple drawing on another piece of paper that you can refer to as you scratch or etch the design. Start etching the picture by scratching through the ink layer to the crayon below. Just make a line drawing, or develop some textures by scratching lines or shapes close together. Examples of interesting patterns are all around you, or refer to the crayon etching design sheet below for some ideas.

Suggested patterns to scratch into the ink/crayon layer to add texture to your design.

Tips and Tricks:

Making a crayon etching can be very messy. Be sure to protect your work space with newspapers, especially for the inking process and the actual etching. If you must rest your hand on your picture as you work, place a scrap of paper underneath to keep your hand clean and to protect the artwork.

© 1997 Marilyn J. Brackney

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If you've enjoyed this project, don't miss our crafts archive with projects including:

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