I’ve had a few people ask me about the antiqued look of some of my dolls, particularly in regard to the cracking. The way it’s done is with a crackle effect medium. There are several on the market that can be found at your local craft store. I’m using a 2 step process put out by Deco called Fine Crackle Finish which I bought at Michaels.
First, I paint the face and get it to where I’m totally happy with it and only want to age it. You can’t really crackle and then go back and change something. So once you’re done with your painting, you apply the first step with a brush. It will be really glossy which for me is kind of gross, but I’ll fix that later. The thicker you apply the first step the larger the cracks will be. The reverse is also true where thin application yields finer cracks. I think variation here is key. It looks more natural for the cracks to be different sizes. I also like to let it go on so thin in stops it sort of tapers off so perhaps you end up with no cracks in areas. Again, this seems most organic to me. I’ve seen very consistent cracks on dolls and they looked fantastic. It’s really up to you.
Once the second part is dry the cracks will appear. They will be subtle. That’s where the next part comes in. In order to make those cracks stand out, you’ll want to rub a layer of watered down acrylic or walnut ink to the surface with a soft brush or damp rag. The trick is to rub it on, let it settle a bit into the cracks and then rub it off. I mix my own acrylics depending on the piece. The same color you use in the cracks will also act as an aging effect on the surface of the piece. Sometimes, I make a softer version of the mix by adding water and sort of pat more on if necessary. This makes the whole piece consistently aged. Be warned it will also darken your paints some. I purposely will go a bit glowy or lighter than I want on the ‘flesh’ and know that I’ll be antiquing this tone down to something more desirable. This process also takes some of the ultra shine off the medium. But to really get rid of that, you can use a matte finish like Krylon’s spray coating.
That’s it. Nothing fancy or revolutionary, I’m afraid. Still, I hope it’s helpful.