Updated: Jul 15
Completed scratchboard artwork is sprayed with a protective varnish and are actually more durable than you might think - considering the whole medium is scratching!
I use a Golden Archival varnish with a matte finish on every single completed scratchboard. This varnish protects the artwork from dirt, moisture, UV damage, and MINOR scratches. The protective layer can be scratched through with a sharp tool or gouged with a sharp object, so the artwork does need to be protected when shipping or moving it around. A simple piece of cardboard and some protective packaging should do the trick.
The varnish will protect the completed scratchboard artwork from minor scratches, which means that it is safe to handle the piece with your bare hands, touch the varnished surface, and hang it in your home without fear of damaging it. When handling the scratchboard be sure to have clean hands that do not have excess oil or lotion - these will leave a noticeable print or mark on the varnish.
The matte finish of the protective varnish - which I chose because it most closely replicates the look of ink on the original scratchboard - will catch dust over time. It is perfectly safe to lightly wipe the dust away with your hand or a very soft cloth. Heavy pressure may leave marks in the finish of the varnish, but if you handle it with care, you should have no problem.
I frame all of my scratchboard work without glass. Regular glass that comes in most picture frames reflects a lot of light and that glare detracts from the unique detail quality of scratchboard artwork. Non-glare gallery quality glass can be used if you really want a protective barrier. I find it much easier to connect with the artwork and appreciate the fine details without the glass, however. More practically, it is often difficult to find a frame with enough depth to accommodate a piece of glass, the scratchboard (which is 1/8th of an inch thick), and appropriately secure the backing - most frames simply are not deep enough. Custom framing your scratchboard art is always an excellent option, if you'd like to take that route.
One of my favorite stories to illustrate just how durable the finished scratchboards are has to do with this piece here - my doggy nephew, Jethro! I used this piece as a sample for my custom pet portraits for a few years at art festivals and when I was done using it, I gifted it to my sister. I gave her the piece unframed and it has sat on a small stand in her living room ever since. She also has three young boys and they like to rough house and wrestle in that living room...SO...this portrait of Jethro has ended up on the floor more than once. Because of the protective varnish it is sprayed with, Jethro's portrait still looks great! There may be some minor blemishes around the edges of the board, but otherwise it is in great shape.
I hope this information helps you feel a little more comfortable having a piece of scratchboard artwork framed without glass (gasp!) in your home!
For more information on the varnish I use, head to this blog post.
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