Decorative Painting Tips: Crackling

  • Follow the directions for crackling for whatever crackle medium you are using - different brands have different ways of application and may work differently.

  • It's best to try out a few sample pieces to see what works best under which conditions. Most artists will however tell you that crackling is a process which we don't have too much control over the results! No matter which brand of crackle medium you are using, apply the colour (the topcoat) and leave it alone to work. Don't be tempted to touch up the topcoat you've just applied because the crackle has already started to work.

  • When applying the crackle medium, use your 1" flat brush and a "slip-slap", criss-cross motion. If you apply a thick layer, you will get large cracks, whereas if you apply a thinner layer, the result is fine cracks.

  • A crackled surface needs to dry for a minimum of 12 hours (24 hours is better) before any further painting or decoration is done on it or before it is varnished.

  • Intense and continuous heat helps to crackle the surface. If you use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process, the more heat you apply, the larger the cracks. In hot weather, you'll get nice cracks by just waiting for the piece to cure.

  • Exposing the surface to different temperatures during the curing process gives it a variety of cracks.

  • Read the directions on the bottle of crackle medium you are using carefully - some brands do not advocate the use of a hairdryer to speed up the crackling process.

  • The brush strokes you use when applying the topcoat also determines how your crackle will turn out. If you use a "slip-slap", criss-cross motion, you will get even-looking cracks all over the surface. If you apply long, broad strokes, you get elongated cracks. Experiment.

  • Try sponging the paint on with a sea sponge for a totally different look. It turns out like lace.



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