Want a Crackle Finish? Try Elmers!

A few weeks ago, fellow Curblier ericson posted a question regarding crackle finishing. Ericson’s conundrum was that he is in the Phillippines and was unsure if he would be able to find the crackling medium used in the process. I’ve always had my suspicions as to what the medium was, but–and let me stress this–I really have no clue as to its chemical make-up. That being said, I went about doing a bit of experimenting anyway. This is the outcome.

As with all crackle finishing techniques, I started with a coat of LATEX paint. Here I used a foam brush to apply navy blue on a scrap piece of pine.

Next I put a generous coat of regular old, available-just-about-everywhere Elmers Glue over the navy. Keep in mind that the direction you apply the glue will determine the orientation of your cracks. I applied the Elmers WITH the grain, which I would recommend.

I waited about five minutes to let the glue set up a bit, and then I put a coat of white LATEX over that. In about a minute or two, the crackles started to appear. UNLIKE the traditional crackle medium, which forces the cracks to appear rather quickly, Elmers takes a little longer. So give it a little time before you let frustration take over!

IF you decide you want to try using Elmers to get your crackle finish, you should practice on a similar piece of material before beginning your project. Even if you are using the specified crackle medium, the technique does take practice. Timing is crucial in applying that second coat of latex. And, like all crackle methods, you should end by applying a coat of polyurethane or varnish to protect the crackle finish. (I used a water-base poly, which worked well.)