Crackle Effect – How To

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.

Crackle Effect - Art Dolls by Calan Ree

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5 Comments

  1. Posted November 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm by Ghoul Friday | Permalink

    So with THIS product, you actually are applying the colour of the cracks on TOP of the layers? That’s interesting. I’ve only used the one bottle crackle where you paint, add crackle, then paint on top of that (and your base paint is the colour of your cracks).

    But with yours, you actually paint it how you want it, THEN add the 2 crackle products, THEN add the thinned colour. Which appeals to me.

    Walnut ink eh? Will have to look into that as well.

    Thanks so much for sharing this information!

  2. Posted November 5, 2010 at 12:12 am by Calan | Permalink

    Yes! I know what you mean about the other type. That type is better i think for like crackling with just two tones typically a dark tone and then crackle medium and then a lighter tone which exposes the darker tone in the cracks. That’s the sort I’ve used on things like a hunk of furniture.

    I think there is a one step crackle that also goes on top of your art. I’ve heard it mentioned in some articles. I might try that out next. There are also ones that give you a more specific effect like cracked wood or super fine cracks. For my current work, this brand and style is working great.

  3. Posted November 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm by Ghoul Friday | Permalink

    I’ve tried the wood one and found it works best on large scale items to showcase the effect. It was a total failure on a small piece (at least, for me and in the sense it didn’t look ANYTHING like I was expecting).

    Let me know about your experience with the super fine cracks one. ;)

  4. Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm by Melissa Martin | Permalink

    Can i use crackle over already painted items that i crackled. sort of a double crackle? or is this the best technique to use to add a 3rd color to a piece that’s been crackled, will this it work on wood?

  5. Posted September 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm by Calan | Permalink

    i’m not sure if i would double crackle, but you can try. yes, crackle works on wood.

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