Monday, November 15, 2010

Crackle Effect, Part 1

Crackling furniture is a big fat pain. The idea is to paint one color (base coat) and then paint a second color (top coat) over it, but have the top coat "crackle" so that the base coast shows through. It is a very aged look and incredibly cool if you can get it right. And that is the problem, getting it right. I have no problem putting the base coast on and applying the crackle. It is applying the top coat that can be a big nightmare. You have one shot to get the top coat on, and you literally have about a minute before the top coat starts to crackle. If you go too slow, the crackling top coat will smear all over the place, giving a lumpy, smeared look instead of a nice crackle finish. If you totally mess up, you have to redo the whole piece, which involves lots of scraping and sanding. Usually both the messed up crackle coat AND the nice even base coat comes off in this process, so you basically have to start all over again if you mess up the crackle coat. I will not go into how many times I have had to "start over".

The proprietor of Treasures asked me if I could crackle. I've attempted it in the past and found it frustrating, but I was ready to try it again if she thought it would be a popular look. Last time I crackled a piece of furniture, I had used Sherwin William's crackle medium. Around the time I did that piece of furniture, a couple of different people had told me you could crackle using glue, and since my SW medium had since dried up, I decided to try the glue method. A google search told me that any glue would work (I went with Elmer's school glue) with a hair dryer.

Like the standard crackle medium method, you do have to go fast, but I found the top coat did not smear nearly as much using glue as it did when I tried a crack medium. But the cracks were not quite the look I was going for. So while it was easier to avoid making gloppy mistakes, the crackle effect was less "aged" looking to me. So on my next crackle attempt I decided to go with a crackle medium instead of glue (see Crackle Effect, Part 2).

I should note that I did not take a "before" pic, or if I did, I cannot find it on my camera. The original shelf was a dark wood. The base is white, the top coat is a blue/grey.

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