What is your favorite scratchboard for teaching? I've used EssDee and Canson for my own work, and Clayboard and Scratch-Art for students to practice with. Scratch-Art was great because it needed no prep, was lightweight, inexpensive, and shipped anywhere. Very good for trying out the medium for the first times. However, when I received classwork from a distance student, I saw why she was having so much trouble; the board is so thinly coated with clay, there is nothing to scratch. I've tried to contact the company to see if it is a bad lot, or if someone else is making it poorly now. Neither their local nor toll free phone lines connect. They don't repond to written inquiries either. I believe the board was purchased through Amazon. This is the white scratchboard. So, I am now searching for good (yields crisp lines), lightweight, easily purchased on-line, inexpensive, white, scratchboard. Thanks!  (PS I have a whole box of large sheets of Canson scratchboard I am not thrilled with.) Best, Gretchen [email protected]




I used to exclusively use EssDee, and dry mount it to an archival foam core. But I have moved to the Ampersand Scratchboard. 
When I taught pen and ink (both I and II) I always introduced scratchboard on the last day. Some folks who struggled with pen and ink were really pleased with scratchboard.  The Essdee, after drymounting, cost nearly $40 a sheet. The Ampersand is way less. 

The Ampersand was a dream come true. No prep. Consistent surface, various sizes. No dry mounting. I used the white background. However scratchboard has taken off down here at the Art Institute of the desert museum, and LOADS of people use the black Ampersand. 

That said, I think the surface is good and practical for different techniques. 
I think Frank Ippolito knows the inventor of Ampersand Scratchboard and may be able to give some information on the specifications. I don't know. 

Happy Spring!

I use Ampersand - both black and white - for teaching. Consistent surface, and the coating is thick enough to allow for corrections. It's affordable. I'm not crazy about the thickness of the masonite, but the masonite backing does protect the work. When I used to use ESSDEE (I'd buy large sheets and cut into smaller pieces), students were not careful and the surface would crack or corners would be damaged. Or it would warp and wouldn't lay flat.

I don't use it for my own work - there is something about the surface and the dust from from the Ampersand boards that makes my hands itch like crazy. I've never had a student have this problem - just me. I have a stash of old ESSDEE that I use.



I’ve never seen this product here in Australia but then I haven’t been looking. I don’t draw much at work traditionally anymore and have plenty of old supplies. I’m about to run a small demonstration/workshop for friends in the Studio West End and information on supplies is interesting.

Can you tell us how thick the masonite backing is? I worry about masonite with acids leaching out of the lignin but looking at the Ampersand site their hardboard looks pretty good.

Essdee’s backing was not acid free anyway.

Cheers, Geoff


Dick Blick carries it, there are a great number of sizes to choose from. 

And if you have a table saw function you can make your own smaller pieces - I got Frank to cut down a finished piece for me once, it was nerve-wracking but worked fine.


Thank you everyone. Ampersand for students it is. I think I have samples in my studio I'll try again first.

Karen, I also have a stash of EssDee for myself. Plus all that Canson from when EssDee changed their formula. And, of course, some  Cronaflex :- )

Thanks, Clara. I do have a table saw, but the students I'm introducing scratchboard to aren't local. They will have to buy on line. 

I cannot imagine cutting a finished piece!




If cutting down Claybord on a saw, I'd be careful of exposed edges (are the edges of the Clayboard finished/sealed - I don't recall). Unsealed edges would be a point of entry for humidity in particular. I would recommend sealing any exposed edges - gesso neatly applied should do the trick. Of course, framing is a consideration… if the Clayboard will be "floated" then edges would be visible. I recently framed a scratchboard piece on Claybord (not my own work), and i "hid" the edges behind the mat (the mat being supported underneath to account for the 1/8-inch depth of the Claybord).

If students won't be cutting boards down, then this is moot. But might be a consideration for your own future work.


Hi Karen et al,

I do not plan on cutting Claybord; I was responding to Clara's post. It's good to know one can do that, and your point is well-taken about sealing the edges.

Correction: I had written I tried Canson scratchboard. After an email from Trudy, and checking my stock, I see it is Paris scratchboard I have, not Canson. Do not rush to purchase the Paris board, however. Trudy notes its quality diminished and is no longer made. 

I saw a review from one customer about the uncoated Scratch-Art that echoed my discovery; that after 15-20 years of being a reliable product, it is now worthless. 

If I unexpectedly get eaten by a mountain lion, I'll have my old EssDee (the best scratchboard, before it changed) donated to the GNSI auction.