Sgraffito with Crayons

A couple of years ago we bought some Stockmar Beeswax Crayons, and they came with a little plastic tool for doing Sgraffito.  Sgraffito comes from the Italian word sgraffiare (“to scratch”), and the technique works great with crayons.  All you do is make a light color background, then color a dark layer (black is best) over the top.  Then use something pointy (plastic works best, so you don’t rip the paper) and scrape the black to reveal the light colors below.  We’ve been doing it for a year now, and it’s so cool. Almost turns out looking like a tiny wood block print.

I couldn’t find the tool that came with our crayons, so I just cut a point on this little green piece of plastic and scraped with it.


  1. Heidi
    August 15, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I´ve also done that long time ago. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Selina
    August 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    very cool!

  3. Helmi
    August 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    grt, Helmi

  4. Rowena
    August 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I used to do those a long time ago. You reminded me how cool it is. I might try it again. I hope crayola works as well as beeswax. :)

  5. kristine
    August 16, 2010 at 8:18 am

    hi, i'am kristine from france, i like very what you post.
    I was used to do that whit my children (4) end i used a bamboo cut with a cuter and it gave a good results.
    have a good day and thank for all the think you post

  6. Mejse
    August 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

    We did that a lot in kindergarden :) I think I still got a piece of it lying around somewhere.. We used a fork to do the scraping! Thank you for the great reminder :)

    /Mejse from Denmark

  7. Amy
    August 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I used to do this as a child, but I would start by painting the paper all different colors, then coloring over that with a dark crayon. That way, the paint doesn't get scratched off like the light crayon might. We used all different things to scratch with, to make different patterns.

  8. Elīna
    August 16, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    This really remind me kindergarden time. But we did something different - made a picture using crayons and then put on it watercolours.

  9. Joel Henriques
    August 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I'm so glad I did this post. I knew I would get some good ideas from all of you! Very cool! Thanks everybody!

  10. cluster design
    August 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    joel! i just found your blog and love it.
    thank you so much for posting so many fun and beautiful crafts!
    i can't wait to try one with my almost-three-year-old

  11. LisaAC
    August 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I learned to do that in grade school 30 years ago. I still love the technique. I'm glad to see it's not forgotten. A cheaper version of a scratch board. :)

    August 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I love this! I'm think I'm going to have to do this myself this month. Thanks so much for the great idea, I'll be linking.

  13. Margaret
    August 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    You inspired us to do sgraffito yesterday! It was so much fun. Thanks for all the great ideas! Love your blog

  14. Paul & Paula
    August 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

    oh great... nearly forgot about it...
    looks like rain for the next couple of days anyway!
    Thank you!

    Love from Amsterdam

  15. infinitemonkeytheory
    August 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    ah, i remember doing this in school using the two methods Amy and Elīna mentioned. it was such fun!

  16. hanne
    August 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    i'd almost forgotten, I did that as a kid too..

  17. Celia
    August 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    omg, i totally remember doing that as a kid. genius!

  18. Astrid
    August 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    taught my daughter how to do this just the other week and she loved it! she has been making lot's of pictures ever since!

  19. polwig
    August 18, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I remember doing similar etchings as a kid and loved it. Can't wait to do it again.

  20. toasted
    August 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    OH wow. Just happened across your blog. I think you might be a genius.

    I haven't been so inspired in a long long long time.

    AND I was very obsessed with these kind of drawings when I was a kid (never knew the name of it though.) Thanks.

  21. ADHDmamma
    August 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I loved doing that when I was young, too. I remember that the fattier crayons in kindergarten worked much better than the ones I had at home. I can't remember what we used for scratching, but probably anything we could find that would work ;)

    How fun to see this again :)

  22. Lisa
    August 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Try it my way: Instead of covering whith black crayons me and my kids cover whith black acrylic-colour mixed whith soap. It makes it all black and surprises the kids every time!

  23. Amy
    August 20, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    There was a similar color-resist technique craft that we used to do as well. Color on white paper with white crayon, then try to paint over it - the paint sticks to the paper but resists the crayon-colored places. Or you can cut shapes out of removable contact film, stick those to the paper, paint over/around them, then peel off the shapes.

    You can do the same thing with white crayon or electrical tape on hard-boiled eggs before dyeing them. Makes very beautiful colored eggs!

  24. aimee
    August 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    oh what fun!! this has worked for me with crayons on cardboard, then covering the multicolored background with a layer of india ink. i wonder if i can work up the moxie to stick a pointy tool in my kids' hands and close my eyes to the flying india ink shavings. i think i can, i think i can...

    super inspiring blog you have!

  25. Michelle
    August 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    This is fantastic! Looks like something I did in art class when I was little, kind of. Fun for kids and grown ups too!

  26. Cedar
    August 22, 2010 at 1:51 am

    i love the idea of doing it in small little pictures. we had fun with this yesterday. thanks!

  27. Vicki
    August 30, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Hi! Thanks for the idea! When I looked at it, another idea jumped into my mind...why not draw a colorful design like rainbow stripes and before using a black crayon over the top, slip a rubbing plate underneath the paper and watch it appear as you go over the bright colors with a black crayon. You could even take an alphabet, number or shape stencil and slip it under the paper instead of the rubbing plate. I think I'll try this with my preschool class and see what develops. Thanks again! Have fun!

  28. Joel Henriques
    August 31, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Thanks so much everybody. I'm loving all of these great ideas!

  29. deryik
    October 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

    It was my dad who first showed me this great technique. I was amazed when he painted it all black and amazed once again when the colors came back. it is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood. thank you.

  30. Joel Henriques
    October 14, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    deryik - that sounds like a really great memory. I have similar childhood memories too. amazing what kinds of things stay in our minds.

  31. Anonymous
    November 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Using black paint instead of black crayon is less physically tiring for kids!

  32. July 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I used to do that when I was a kid and I forgot all about it. Thanks for the reminder!

  33. August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

    [...] my self-portrait.  I have 7 days left – still have not done a blind contour drawing or a crayon sgraffito  so that will take up 2 of the days.  I still want to draw a picture of myself holding a [...]

  34. September 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Good idea! Thank you! :)

  35. February 20, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    [...] think we may have to try making our own scratch boards soon. Perhaps like these simple crayon on crayon ones at Made by [...]

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