I think I finally cracked up…
In the last few months, I began experimenting with texture. I tried a number of commercial crackle pastes in the process, and was disappointed in the results. So I started experimenting with other materials and got some interesting effects. I posted the photos above and below on social media, and a few artists asked me about how I get such good cracking NOT using commercial crackle paste. I thought I’d share the super simple method here.
While each of the commercial crackle pastes may have some great uses, I have found them to be limited – many break off, require rigid surfaces, and are increasingly unstable with the thickness of application. The pieces posted here came out of a search for stronger, more stable cracks. I found all kinds of things from plaster to marble powder on the internet and experimented with both materials and proportions. The result was this marble powder and matte medium mixture. In future, I’m going to try my hand at videos (forgive me in advance!) so you can see the process. For now, here is the recipe for my great cracks and the best surfaces for it I’ve found so far…
What you’re going to need to make your own super strong and simple crackle compound:
- Marble powder/marble dust (I use Fredrix)
- Acrylic Matte medium (I use Golden, but any regular or fluid matte medium will work (not gel))
- 3:1 Marble powder to Matte medium (thinner more smooth cracks)
- 4:1 Marble powder to Matte medium – very stiff! (dense thick peeling cracks)
Mix the marble powder and matte medium in a plastic mixing bowl for best results (and easier cleaning). Add more medium or powder as you feel necessary. There is no need to be exact. Mix it well! You can experiment with this too. The the more marble powder you use, the denser texture you’ll get. It can take some muscle to mix with more marble and less medium! Add more medium for a thinner, smoother paste. Note: Don’t make more than you need! It can set up in a sealed container after 24 hours.
Dry time is roughly 24 hours, depending on climate, and it’s a little faster on board than paper. I find the results (crack size and number) can be surface dependent, BUT, I get great results using both 140LB cold pressed watercolour paper AND hard surfaces like birch board – or my absolute favourite for doing textured paintings – DaVinci Resist-Grip panels. The DaVinci panels are cradled and have a very rough surface, which will hold on tightly to your thicker pastes. This mechanical bond is added to the chemical bond between acrylic media, making thicker layers possible. The marble powder and medium mixture is very stable and allows for some flex, which most commercial pastes do not.
Tips for getting colour in the cracks:
I use acrylic inks and fluid acrylics to get colour onto the pastes and into the cracks. The substrates can be pre-toned. I’ve made small spray bottles with colour to help make colours run and stain better. The marble crackle can be collaged onto a smooth surface like above, or surrounded by other molding pastes. Joint compound, plaster of paris (read instructions!!)or other water based pastes and compounds are also worth a try.
Sealing a finished surface seems to increase the stability further, making breakage an effort, so I do recommend using a matte or gloss sealer, depending on the effect you’re seeking.
The key is to experiment and have fun! Feel free to post any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.