T1: MMT; Pt 1; Pj 4: Ex 2: Scratching

My eldest daughter has asthma so I was deliberating how to do Project 3: Heating and Fusing. For safety reasons I have decided to leave this project until either I can get to Mr Man’s workshop (which is very very cold at the moment) or until I can work in the shed on a day she’s out with friends (it’s also very very cold out there). In the meantime I have moved forward to Project 4: Scratching and embossing.

I chose scratching as i anticipated the embossing held less surprise and more control in the output. I chose the scratching project because I felt the process would be less controlled by me, and more controlled by the impact of the tool on the surface. All I needed to control was the pressure and direction – a ┬ábit like blind drawing but with a greater feel as to the resistance between material and tool and a more textured range of mark-making.


I chose a number of tools which now I consider them are all metal. If I were to repeat or re-explore this I would search for natural as well as man-made tools from a greater range of material than simply metal. I used the range of papers and fabrics I had available – with greater and lesser success. Again, if I were to take this further I would use papers that had more tooth – homemade perhaps, and surfaces that were less pressed – offering some variety through which to drag different depths of scratch. Although I feel this exercise gave me less pleasing samples it has afforded me more questions that I’d like to investigate – which perhaps suggests that it still hold unexplored potential.

Sample 1

Photographing the samples created the next challenge. Having completed all my experiments for this time on this exercise I started snapping away to record.

I couldn’t get any light to show what I can see and feel. I was unable to show the straight and clean scratch lines of the dead biro, nor the puckered feel of the serrated knife edge. All that seemed to be revealed clearly were the holes!

I thought about rubbing with crayon – but this held the risk of flattening the scratched. I considered crumbling chalk or pastel over the surface – I may yet experiment with this – using the chalks in the same way that a French Polisher might fix a scratch.

In the end I settled on a wash of colour. I weighed up watercolour, acrylic or ink and settled on ink in the hope that there would be a range of concentration determined by the depth of the scratch. I really messed up exploring this with sample 1. The result is as follows:


What I did learn is how to control the wash and how much ink and water I needed to apply by studying the different areas carefully. It showed there was promise for this technique but it needed further refinement.

Before I share the now dry inked samples there follows a gallery of the different paper and tool scratching. I used a range of movements – some like scrubbing, some like rubbing in cream, some like erasing, at other times as if I was trying to scrape something off a surface. I used the occasional sawing movement but this was more than distressing to the surface – it damaged it to the extent of creating holes.

Back to the inked samples:

I was so excited when I turned the samples over to have a look at the reverse and found these sepia stains where the black ink had bled through at the point it had saturated the scratch. Looking carefully for the photos I was transfixed by this mark. This is a take forward!

sample 11 – mark close up

To finish this exercise I brought forward the fabric that had interested me in the last exercise and found a swatch of it in gold. When laid flat having been scratched with the knife it seemed to be very plain – but stretched and pulled the effect was far more interesting:

Lastly I wanted to repeat this on a lighter stretchy fabric that laddered as it was scratched. For me the result was to structured and held less spontaneity than the above right hand photo.

Sample 13

It seems a natural place to transition into the next project and exercise: puncturing as a next step of the process explored here. I intend to return to project 3 – with its possible risks, as a final project. for this Part.