How to Use Crackle Medium

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How to Use Crackle Medium

I use crackle medium a lot in my sign paintings and on my furniture items.  I love the rustic texture and distressed finish it gives.

The key is not to overdo it.  You don’t want it in your face, it needs to fade into the background tastefully. Here I will show you how to use crackle medium.

How to use crackle medium. Get different effects with crackle mediums by how you apply it. A great way to add texture and interest to your projects!

I use crackle medium a lot in my sign paintings and on my furniture items.  I love the rustic texture and distressed finish it gives.

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Supply list:
American Decor Chalky Finish
Crackle Medium (this is the medium I used for this project, I have used many brands, Folk Art, Decoart Americana, Delta, and Martha Stewart, they all perform similarly)

I start by base coating my surface with a background color.  This will be what shows thru the topcoat.  I prefer a subtle color for a white topcoat.  Here  I will do a beige brown base coat but gray, like Yesteryear, would’ve worked well too.
On this bench I used Primitive.

How to Use Crackle Mediums
How to use crackle medium

I paint on the color and let it dry.  Nothing fancy.  What I do like about these brushes is they are not bulky and are easy on the hands and are easy to control.  Clean-up is a snap too.

Let your base color dry and then apply the crackle medium.  I use a slip slap motion when applying the crackle medium.

With the tub of crackle, I just dip my brush in it and paint it on the surface.  When I use the other bottles of crackle I pour some onto a palette (sometimes a spare board or actual palette paper.) and load my brush from there.

Showing the motion of how I apply the crackle medium in photos is rather difficult so it is much easier to just view the video.  It is only about 6 minutes.

There are two parts to the video, one shows using a sponge for the topcoat and the next shows how I use a paintbrush for the topcoat.

How to use Crackle medium, (8 of 16)
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Another method of applying it is with a paint roller but I only use this when I am doing larger areas at a time. 

Pouncing or using a roller makes the crackle go in several directions and just stroking on the paint with a brush can make the crackles go into more of a line of direction.  You can see how these crackles run more horizontally.

The thickness of the crackle medium you apply will determine the size of your crackles.   A thicker coat will make larger crackles, a thinner will make them finer.
On this sign I had created for a customer you can see a much wider crackle.

how to use crackle mediums,

Just a note, many have and like using white glue as a crackle medium.  It can work but I find it hard to control.  I like being able to get the effect I want and not rely on happenstance.  But do try white glue if you wish, it is a cheaper alternative.

Even with a top coat as you paint your design on you can reactivate the crackle medium, I don’t mind it, having a bit of crackling in my roses or design just adds to it but if I want to avoid that I seal the piece with a varathane in a matte or satin finish before continuing. (this also comes in spray cans)

You will have to lightly sand the varathane finish for the design to adhere well but I just use a piece of brown paper grocery bag to do that.

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Crackle mediums can be tricky. Come see how I use them and get the effect I want every time!


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  1. Do you let the crackle dry before applying top coat

  2. Shirley Williams says:

    I haven’t done crackle painting since the early 70’s and had forgotten the technique. I throughly enjoyed your video about using crackle medium. Can’t wait to try this again.
    I enjoy your videos and teaching tips so much. Hope you keep posting your work for years!
    Shirley William

  3. Good question. I have yet to try it.

  4. Can you use spray paint over crackle medium

  5. Thank you for excellent explenation about crackle medium, you are very nice,💁🏻❤️

  6. You are welcome, Jackie. Crackle mediums can be a bit tricky but with practice they get much easier.

  7. I love the sound of your Shabby Chic little cottage she shed. I am tempted at times to clear out all my painting paraphernalia and just turn it into a relaxing little get away much like the one you described. But I also enjoy it as my painting studio so much, some how I need to find a happy medium between the two or build a bigger one. If I had space I would find a way to build another. 🙂

  8. Nicole Cote says:

    Yes I certainly enjoyed your teaching the Crackle process and will be back for more teaching classes. Thank you very much.

    I also want to comment about your video on the She Shed. I got myself one 12 years ago when I retired and did it up in the Shabby Chic Style with a single bed, Billowy curtains, a night table, a deacon bench and a cupboard plus a bamboo writing table. I loved it and enjoyed the 10 years when I lived at that address and used it regularly. Now that I have moved to a new house I am tempted to renew the experience and get myself a new one for my yard.

  9. Jackie Hale says:

    Great video tutorial! Thank you….

  10. I know, when the guy asked for this sign I wondered how blue roses would turn out and then I loved them! It reminds me of transferware dishes.

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