Super Sgraffito | Get Creating

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Now if you follow me on Instagram you all know I have been on an oil pastel binge at the moment. This is somewhat of a new found love, as I used to DESPISE using this mess magnets in my classes. It seemed like no matter how I used them they would instantly get gross, I'd get pastel under my nails from trying to unsheathe them, they'd get snapped, everything! But upon recently listening to a fabulous podcast by Cassie Stephens I have got my oil pasteling life sorted out guys! After you have read this post I highly recommend checking her out. Today I am just going into my lesson plan for sgraffito, but who knows supply storage may be on its way!

If you don't know sgraffito is an Italian word that means to scratch away . This process is common in pottery too where a top coloured clay is scratched away to reveal a different colour below. But it can also be done with layered oil pastel!

So to begin, I had the luxury of 1 hour and 40 minutes on this session broken down into two periods with a break in the middle. But if you don't have the joy of that, then I recommend setting yourself 2 lessons aside for this task! The first part really sets them up for understanding oil pastels, and respecting the materials then they can make their super sgraffito in the second part!

First of all though, materials. You will need:

1. Oil pastels | divided into colour family

2. Copy paper | any old thickness will do

3. Toothpicks

optional 4. Worksheet | it will make the first part easier

What to do!


I start by asking if my peeps have used oil pastels before, this helps me gauge how much instruction they need. Then I introduce the word Sgraffito, what does it mean? What language do you think it might be? This gets engagement up from the get go! I also often hand round some examples of different kinds (pattern based, pictoral) so they know what they're aiming for too.

Simply begin by working through the sheet! You can just do this with your pupils on a piece of paper (A4) making your own squares if needed, this is how I initially ran these sessions and it works fine (especially if your printer budget is a little limited...)

Each of these stages teaches something important, so make sure not to skip any!

1. How to create a solid colour, this will be needed for your sgraffito base layer!

2. How to blend colour, but at the bottom an example of what not to shade your base (the lighter patchy layer).

3. Warm and cool colours, to show what colours will work together as a base, and how exactly it will work when you colour your large piece!

4. Rainbow lines, to reinforce their understanding of colours and remind them of the order!

5. Sample square, so they understand the process before moving onto the final piece! scribble a base coat of colour, before layering with a darker one (or black), and use a toothpick to make some simple patterns and lines!


Once your peeps understand how to use their oil pastels without making a bunch of kerfuffle we can get onto our sgraffito! To make these I use A5 copy paper, A4 gets a little too big, your peeps will probably get board and rush around the edges. I like to get them as much ownership over this as possible, patterns, pictures, whatever you like! For the best pieces possible follow these top tips:

• mistakes in your scratching can be rubbed away by colouring over the scratch with your top level colour!

• make sure your colours are nice solid, like out first primary coloured box. Otherwise your sgraffito will be patchy!

• ensure your peeps are adding a base layer! Even if it is white, otherwise there will be nothing to scratch away.

• as the teacher, do yourself the biggest favour and unwrap your pastels! This will mean you won't end up with wrappers half torn and all over the floor...

That does it for today ladies and gents. Come back soon for more making!

Georgia de B.

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#art#sgraffito #teaching#education #primary #oilpastel


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