Crackle finishes produce an aged, weathered look, resembling cracked glass or paint. The aged look is popular in vintage and heritage layouts.
Each commercial crackle product comes with its own instructions, which should be followed carefully.
Generally speaking, using crackle medium is a two-step process calling for two complementary products. You apply a base coat of medium over your surface, and let it dry. Next, if the manufacturer recommends it, you apply a second layer of the base coat. When the base coats are dry, you apply a layer of a top coating medium. As the top coat dries, it produces cracks on the surface of your project.
When applying the coats, the thicker the coat, the larger the cracks you will end up with. If you prefer tiny hairline cracks, look for Fragile Crackle medium instead of the regular variety.
Lastly, you might apply a color over the cracks for contrast. If you opt to use paint to produce this contrast, avoid paint that contains a built in sealer. Use no more than one thin coat of paint on top, or you will fill up the cracks you worked so hard to produce.
When you are finished, coat the surface of your project with an acrylic varnish or other product recommended by the manufacturer to guard against stickiness.
Altered book artists report being happy with commercial crackle products such as those from Anita, Deco Art and Delta. No doubt other brands work well, too. I prefer the crackle finishing kits because you purchase the base coat and the top coat at the same time.
Money Saving Tip: White glues, such as Elmer's Glue-All are economical alternatives to commercial crackle finishes. They work well, but some experimentation might be required to get the effect you want.
To obtain a crackle finish using glue as the medium, first cover your project with acrylic craft paint (do not use fabric paints; they are too flexible). When the paint is dry, cover your surface with glue, and without allowing the glue to dry, promptly apply a second coat of paint. Cracks will form as the paint dries over the moist glue.
Most crackling finishes are designed to be used on a hard, non-porous surface such as ceramics, glass, plaster, metal or wood. The finishes are often applied over paint. And, believe it or not -- the cheap craft paints work best. Fabric paints, like the well-loved Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints, are too flexible and will prevent crackling from occurring.
Crackle can be used with paper, if you take added precautions:
The screaming woman image at the top of this page is done over paper. This is how I made her:
- Seal your paper well before applying the crackle finish. You must create a non-porous surface. Varnishes, acrylic gels and mediums and glues work well as sealers.
- Allow the project to dry well between all applications (unless the manufacturer's instructions say otherwise).
- Apply a layer of acrylic varnish to the top to prevent pages from sticking together later on.
- Start with a wooden flower shape. I purchased mine at Michaels for less than $1.
- Using the wooden flower as a template, cut an image from a glossy magazine.
- Glue the picture to the flower shape using a glue stick.
- Cover the picture with Mod Podge (glossy) and allow it to dry.
- Cover the Mod Podge with two layers of Anita Fragile Crackle base coat, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before adding the next.
- Add a layer of Anita Fragile Top Coat, and allow it to dry. Hairline cracks will form.
- When dry, rub the surface with gold metallic rub-ons to add emphasis to the cracks.
- Lastly, varnish the surface with acrylic varnish to prevent it from sticking to the book page that will become the screaming woman's new home.
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