A lightweight way to add dimension and interest!

But how do you make crackle texture? Do you need anything special besides the crackle medium itself? Does it work on any surface?
I am just a newbie artist, but I’ve already been asked these and other, similar questions about crackle texture. Perhaps you’re curious, too.

[Click to see how this piece was made!]

Let me say upfront that there are two basic versions of “crackle medium” — the substance used to create crackle texture — and that I currently use only the second type mentioned below, finding the first to be of too limited use in my own style of art. I will describe the first and give you links to check it out, but this post will focus on the lightweight crackle paste which I personally use.
Type One: Flat “Distressed” Crackle
This type of medium produces a flat, flaky top layer of crackled paint giving the surface of (primarily wooden) objects an aged or weathered appearance. This product tends to be a thick liquid which you paint over a dry painted surface, let it dry, then paint your contrasting color on top. The paint reacts with the crackle medium below it, in effect shrinking to form a layer of crackled paint that reveals hints of the color beneath it. Below is a demonstration of the popular Martha Stewart crackle medium. There are also versions of this type of product made by FolkArt, Tim Holtz, and Americana DecoArt.


Type Two: Lightweight Dimensional Crackle
This extremely versatile product made by Golden brand acrylics allows you to create varying thicknesses of crackle texture, with very little added weight.
Just like the first type, this one performs best on a rigid surface like wood or canvas, but it has these added benefits:

  • Spread it on as thick or as thin as you like. It will maintain its basic thickness including any peaks or other “sculptural” elements you include.
  • Control the size of cracks to some degree: thicker = bigger sections between cracks.
  • As mentioned, you can actually SCULPT this product to some degree, creating valleys and peaks — or drawing in it, like the pic below.
  • You can embed metal or other objects right into the crackle medium, as seen in the two pics above.
  • You can apply the crackle texture through a stencil, as a frame, or to whatever sections of your project you choose. It is lightweight but thick like marshmallow cream, so it will stay where you put it.
  • You can paint the dry crackle texture any way you like, from a solid color to a mosaic effect, or even an entire painted scene!
  • You can even color the crackle medium before applying it to a surface. See this helpful post on 20 different types of acrylic mediums, all pre-colored!
  • The surface is porous enough to accept water media like gouache or watercolor paint. All my pieces shown here were painted with either Golden high flow acrylics or Golden fluid acrylic with added water to make a “wash”. I also often spray the paint I’ve just applied with rose-scented water, not only giving it a delightful scent but also creating some swirling and intermingling of colors.
  • You have the choice of leaving the cracks as-is and simply spraying the whole artwork with a sealant like you would with any acrylic painting, OR you can mix up a type of “mortar” to fill in the cracks with any color you like (including clear) by using one of Golden’s gel mediums.
  • You CAN use this crackle paste fairly successfully on rigid paper products like matboard. See the pic below — some warping of the board, but still quite useable.


Golden crackle paste is the ONLY product I have found — or even heard of — that performs in all these ways. And unlike molding paste and some other acrylic mediums, it adds very little weight to your canvas or panel, making it useful even in large wall-mounted artworks.


Here is a quick tour through the creation of one crackle texture artwork.
[click any pic to view larger]
I have painted an ordinary stretched canvas, chosen a stencil, and gotten out my crackle paste and a cheap plastic palette knife.


I apply the crackle paste through the stencil, as thick as I like, smoothing out some lines while leaving some, for added texture.


I remove the stencil, add a metal gear in the center, and set it aside to dry and crackle.



When I apply crackle paste this thickly, I give it at least 48 hours to dry completely before I paint it.
Here’s why: The pics below are after approximately 0, 24, and 48 hours of drying time:



If you want to see more, click on any of these pics to see the steps of how I made it:




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