Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

Project 4 – Scratching and Embossing – Exercise 2 Scratching

1 Comment


Starting at the bottom of the recommended links for research in this assignment, I opened Dezeen, an online architecture, interiors design magazine, which according to The Times, Jan 2013, “curates a selection of the best design and interiors from around the world.”

My immediate response to the website was a sinking heart that it was not my thing – a rash and incorrect assessment.  I was quickly introduced to cutting edge design, transporting me from my bedroom workspace to the modern world, somewhere I need to visit more often!  I was particularly inspired by Itay Ohaly’s scratchable vases which reveal hidden colours.  Investigating his work further, I was led to his Colored Memories installation at Israel’s Design Museum Holon in 2014 where visitors scratch walls and furniture to create coloured etchings.

The black vases have been designed for the consumer to etch into the surface to reveal glimpses of colour beneath (Dezeen, 2015).  Ohaly created the surface using several layers of paint, separated by an oil layer and has engraved the vases to demonstrate how they would look when etched. (Dezeen, 2015)

‘In this project I continue with my exploration into the colour etching technique,” Ohaly told Dezeen. I wanted to apply this technique to objects and I was interested in bringing this kind of aesthetics into peoples home. Furthermore, By using manual etching, I am trying to play and explore a kind of irregular, ongoing and evolving doodles which create unique overall patterns.’ (Dezeen, 2015)

I was drawn to the visual texture of the vases etched by Ohaly.  The limited palette of three colours, yellow, blue and pale pink against the matt black bring the simple doodles together to create coherence in the overall design.  Whether the proportion of colour underneath the black would be sufficient to create the same effect with a less informed engraver is questionable. I wonder if the vases come with tips on how to doodle effectively! My interpretation of Ohaly’s doodling:



A livelier interpretation using wax crayon and acrylic paint

The three angular shaped vases sit well together, each with a square neck at the top and the angle from the neck to the flat sides mirroring the angle to the base.


However, I do think their overall success is significantly affected by Ohaly’s doodles, the similar size of the marks and the difference in tone achieved by varying the thickness and angle of lines has created an overall pattern.  Displayed together against a plain, pale background, the vases could look very appealing.

Referring back to the Colored Memories  installation, I was struck how effectively the technique could be used for community projects or children’s workshops.  I have worked with a friend for the last three years on a summer workshop combining music and art for children between the ages of 5 and 10.  The day culminates in a display of their artwork and a concert.  In addition to an individual art project, we aim to produce at least one group piece with maximum impact. This technique could be adapted for future use.


The exercise is to use scratching methods to distort a material’s surface, creating texture and form, starting with paper.


Using the above tools, 150gsm cartridge paper was difficult to scratch, it had a very smooth surface.  I added pencil to make the marks more evident, but they are more like slight indentations than scratches so little actual texture was created and overall it was flat, not very interesting and therefore not very successful.


150gsm coloured khadi paper was more satisfying.  The khadi paper, which is hand-made already has a texture, the surface is warm and tactile, scratching with the same tools as above produced more distortion in the surface than the cartridge paper. The more pressure the greater the indentation.  It was difficult to break through the material which had potential for a variety of marks and tools and an interesting energetic outcome.


I attempted to scratch into a coated card:


It was difficult to make much impression as the surface was shiny and hard.  I shaded over some of the scratches with oil pastel to try to make them more visible.  Perhaps more aggression is required although it was possible with sharp points to make smooth curves. The scratched surface lacked impact, although in the bottom left, the bradawl pulled hard down across the surface created some bumpy texture and the japanese screw punch left clear circular indentations in the card.

The following board from a photo mount, which seems to be covered with a textured black paper was more successful with the sharper tools creating visual and actual texture.  Scratching in one direction produced a smoother line than scrubbing in both, scribbling in curves was more difficult because the surface was uneven.


The next was the most rewarding so far for me, a piece of Scraperboard from a set given to me about 40 years ago!  I’ve no idea how I came to keep it as I don’t have anything else similar from my childhood.  The potential for a variety of marks and tones was evident and it bore more similarity to the appearance of the surface of Itay Ohaly’s work, which inspired me to chose this exercise.


Plastic packaging:


and another go with the most successful tools, two serrated knives, a lemon zester and a corn on the cob prong.  This has been one of the better examples of actual texture so far.


Kitchen foil, the photographs suggesting more success than was actually achieved. The surface was too thin and easily torn if too much pressure was applied.

The inside of a drink can which was difficult to make an impression on.


A piece of terracotta flower pot, scratched with terracotta, although the scratches are removing moss rather than distorting much of the surface of the pot:


A laurel and rhododendron leaf half painted with gesso and scratched with a pin.


Considering Itay Ohaly’s scratched works, I prepared various samples of scratch board using wax crayons, oil pastels or an oil stick as the base and acrylic paint, acrylic and india ink as the upper surface.

Whilst waiting for them to dry, I covered an area of dry acrylic paint with black oil pastel and scratched into that:


The original paint was a bit uneven with scrapes evident from credit card application but the results were quite exciting as a good variety of tones and marks was possible.

Motivated to continue I tried out one of my prepared boards, a slightly shiny white covered cardboard covered with a thick layer of sennelier oil pastels and a layer of indian ink, which had been left to dry for several hours.  I could scratch into it but felt it was a bit soft so left it overnight.  It was firmer, allowing a greater variety of marks.  The photo is slightly enlarged. The thicker white lines were carved when the card was still damp.  Once I got going the marks were in response to a memory of some animal fur drawn during my previous course creating a ridged texture and energetic movement.


Conscious that my mark making should be responding to something rather than just invented, in response to a birthday card designed by Angie Lewin, I scratched into this gesso-painted textured photo mount cardboard.  Although it was difficult to get a smooth line and the paper covering scraped away in places, I was very encouraged by this sample. Having enjoyed my experience of printing so far, cutting lino and eco board for collagraphy, I could sense growing excitement of a connection here worthy of greater experimentation.


I copied some of Angie Lewin’s seedheads trying out coloured pencils, water soluble coloured pencils, a dip pen and a fineliner.

Still waiting for my painted scraper board to dry, I experimented with the blue and silver paper used earlier, painting it with black acrylic paint and ‘scratching’ into the wet paint. (Sgraffito), continuing with marks in response to Angie Lewin’s design.

The paint dried quite quickly. The thicker marks were produced with a rubber tipped colour shaper and the finer lines with a pinboard tack as the paint dried. I was getting a bit over-excited at this point, I enjoyed the speed of drawing into the wet paint and felt freer and more expressive with a scratching/monoprint tool in my hand, than a pencil.

I drew some agapanthus seed heads from still life.

and tried out the wax & oil pastel scraperboard:


I was a little disappointed with the above, the three on the right hand side had a top coating of acrylic paint which didn’t work well.  Painted onto oil stick and pastels the surface was thick and rubbery, peeling off as I scratched.  The acrylic paint on acrylic paint separated with vegetable oil, similar to Ohaly’s approach was too hard, difficult to scratch into and scratched off both layers of paint back to the card.  India ink and acrylic ink on oil pastels on the shinier side of the card was more successful but all samples could be improved upon.

Searching for a better combination, I tried gouache paint mixed with a drop of washing up liquid on top of oil pastels, below top left.  This was more successful for colour and control of scratching.  The under colour was applied in stripes which was also quite effective for the grass and seed heads.   Below right, black gouache and washing up liquid onto acrylic paint was difficult to scratch into.   Below bottom, white acrylic ink on blue and grey oil pastels had something about it, perhaps the watery look of the thinly applied ink or the subtle colour palette.  It had some energy and a calmness at the same time and could be developed and improved.


Still keen to find the perfect clean, non-sticky surface for scratching into like Ohaly’s vases, the following samples were produced using the best of the above combinations.  Oil pastels and gouache on the left, white acrylic ink in the centre and black acrylic ink on the right.  The top right cheaper but more vibrantly coloured oil pastels and black acrylic ink with a drop of washing up liquid resulted in the best surface for mark making, but a drier, more durable surface is still eluding me.


This first exercise has taken much longer than anticipated as I attempted to apply all the pointers I had gathered from my refresher of the OCA website, study guides and the course manual, but I was excited and inspired by the process.  My head is full of ‘what if?’ ideas, which is unusual for me (I aspire to such an immediate flow of thoughts rather than a slow realisation that I could try this or that!) – my growing excitement and enjoyment of mark making by scratching into wet paint in particular and the other surfaces connects with the enthusiasm I have felt for the basic mono-printing and lino-printing and strengthens the thought that these techniques are valuable to me. (accessed 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) (accessed 6/11/15) (DIY Scratch Art with Sea Lemon – HGTV Handmade)(accessed 8/11/15)


One thought on “Project 4 – Scratching and Embossing – Exercise 2 Scratching

  1. This is really exciting stuff – I love the energy of the ‘animal fur’ piece and the gesso-painted mountboard piece underneath. The lines seem confident and delicate at the same time. Really makes me want to get scratching!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s