Ampersand Bords (boards!)

Ampersand Bords (boards!)

I bought an 8 board sample pack of Ampersand bords.  I’ve heard a lot about their surfaces and have been looking forward to trying them out.

Ampersand Bords

The boards are 5 * 7 inches (and 1/8 inch thick).  The pack includes their:

  • scratchbord
  • encausticbord
  • claybord
  • artists panel smooth
  • artists panel
  • pastelbord
  • gessobord
  • aquabord


I decided I’d try the Ampersand bords starting with the surface I’m least likely to like, ending with the surface I think will be most enjoyable for me to paint on.

So, the smooth, black scratchbord!  They say it’s clay coated hardboard that’s been coated with India Ink.  Well I’ve never created scratchboard art and haven’t the equipment to start, it was my normal paints and brushes.

Old Car on scratchbord
Acrylic on Scratchbord 5 * 7 inches

It was nice to have such a smooth, black background but I found the surface much too slick for my acrylics, it felt like I was really fighting with the painting though I’m very pleased with the loose finish of the grey jalopy.

Encaustic Bord

The next Ampersand bord I tried is designed for encaustic painting.  Like the scratchbord, I found this surface very smooth and slippery. 

Crocus on encaustic bord
Acrylic on Encaustic Bord 5 * 7 inches

Whilst the painting process wasn’t so enjoyable I’m quite pleased with the end result.

Clay Bord

<sigh> the Ampersand bords are all so smooth and slippery!</sigh>  The claybord is apparently an “ultra smooth absorbent clay ground”.  But the reason I think I find their surfaces slippery is that they don’t absorb that well and the paint just slides around out of your total control.

Iris on claybord
Acrylic on Clay Bord 5 * 7 inches

Anyway this iris didn’t turn out too bad. The black background is ultramarine blue & burnt umber.

Artists Panel Smooth

I had initially thought this would be one of my favourites seeing as it’s marketed for all artists’ paints and I actually have a 16 * 20 inch version that I bought in anticipation of a pleasurable painting experience. This is what I painted, a red poppy amongst some green foliage.

Poppy on artists panel smooth
Acrylic on Artists Panel Smooth 5 * 7 inches

Yep, smooth and slippery, not looking forward to using that larger panel now!

Artists Panel

I rather enjoyed painting on this surface. Not too dissimilar to a normal canvas panel, it’s been primed to give a medium canvas texture.

Girl on artists panel
Acrylic on Artists Panel 5 * 7 inches

I liked it enough to consider buying the panel in a larger size but it turns out, other than in sample packs, they only come in 9mm thickness or cradled.

Pastel Bord

The pastel bord is coated with clay and gesso, and has a marble dust finish. The texture is nice and I enjoyed painting on it although it feels very rough on the brushes.

Rooster on pastelbord
Acrylic on Pastel Bord 5 * 7 inches

Aqua Bord

Oh wow! The Aquabord is such a delight to paint on, I love this surface!

Hibiscus on aquabord
Acrylic on Aqua Bord 5 * 7 inches

It’s a textured clay surface supposedly simulating the texture and absorbency of cold pressed watercolour paper. Well I think I prefer it to paper and it doesn’t buckle!

Gesso Bord

This was the surface I thought I’d like the most and I saved it until last.

It didn’t feel too different from the Aquabord although it has an acrylic gesso ground rather than the aquabord’s clay surface.  I enjoyed this surface more than the finished painting would suggest (I struggled with those yellows!).

Daffodils on gessobord
Acrylic on Gesso bord 5 * 7 inches


In conclusion, my favourite Ampersand surface is definitely the aquabord.  I will be buying a few more of the aquabord, gessobord and perhaps the scratchbord as I like that smooth India ink background.  I would also buy the canvas texture artists panel if it came in the flat profile.

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