There are many painting techniques that create different textures or effects with the paints you're using. A popular one is creating the antiqued look of crackling paint. This effect does work best on a harder surface so things like wood show this effect off well. There are a fine number of products that can do this for you, Kroma Crackle or Golden's crackle medium for example. However these aren't always very cost effective, especially if you're doing a large project or just wanting to play around. For any craft or home decor project here is a way to achieve that same effect for your crafts by using a simple inexpensive ingredient: white school glue.

*Small note; since our main ingredient is school glue I can not comment on the archival quality of this so it's not recommended if your creating masterpieces.


  • acrylic paint -two colours at least
  • white school glue (we found classic Elmer's worked the best)
  • a couple of flat brushes, one at least that you don't mind getting glue on.
  • newsprint or something to lay out your project on- this can get a little messy.
  • something to paint



Step 1:

Lay out some newsprint on you work area to catch the inevitable drips. Having a rag or paper towel handy is a good idea too. Take your piece and do a full coat of paint over the item. This is the colour that will show through the cracks, your under layer. Keep that in mind for choosing which color to use. Let this dry completely. It doesn't need to be a thick layer, just make sure everything is evenly covered to your liking. Here I'm trying different colours to see how the results vary.

Step 2:

Get out the white glue and a brush. Depending on the size of what your working on it may be easier to squeeze out some lines of glue directly onto the surface or have an open tub to dip a brush right into.



This is where it got trickier than I anticipated. This is an easy and simple process but there are a few things that will affect how the effect turns out. You want to brush on an good layer of glue but not too thick. Too little, and cracks will not appear very much; too much and I got this weird ribbon effect. Which could be fun too but not what I was going for.


This can be a hard thing to judge by eyeballing but I have some images to give you and idea how it will turn out. Visuals are great so here we go. The thinner my layer of glue was the greater the number of cracks appeared in fine detail. Just keep in mind what you want.



Step 3:

Let it start to dry, but only so the top layer that you can touch becomes tacky. Use the finger test if you touch it and it fights back a little and gives you a peak of glue then that should be good.

You don't want to let it dry too much because then we won't get the cracks. It can be tempting to do it too soon as well. This is what happened when I did just that, ribbons.

The paint I used on top was pretty thick too so that effected it as well. When I gave myself at least five minuets or more that seemed to work well but judge on how tacky it feels to you.


Step 4:

Brush over top an even layer of the other acrylic colour you choose. Use smooth even strokes that go in one direction. Your trying to layer the paint over the glue without mixing them together.


This too can be a bit tricky: My suggestion is before you do your main project, try out your techniques on a small area (either in a less visible spot or on a scrap surface). You know you've done well if after a minute or two cracks start appearing. I found different types of paint cracked differently and so did different colours. 




Thinner paints like a fluid or high flow acrylic cracked more easily. Chalky colours also did well to increase the overall cracking detail. To speed up the process I used a hair dryer on a low setting to get things going. It was magic I highly recommend but only for drying the layer of paint over the glue. Don't use it on the glue layer as it's too easy to overdo it. The paint cracks because the layer under it is taking longer to dry than the paint ontop.

Here is the result of applying this project to something a little more interesting. See what you can give a little touch up and have fun gluing!




September 14, 2017 — Jasmine Ashlie