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Almost every journey down the decoupage path begins with one step crackle medium. You may easily get it at every home/building/craft store and it seems to be very easy to use. Well, it may not necessarily be the case. The appearance of cracks depends on several factors, such as: thickness of the medium layer, the direction (upward, downwards, diagonal) you apply the top, contrasting paint coat and finally (and I would dare to say – most importantly) the precision of brush strokes. Actually, I rarely use a bristle brush – it is more tricky to get the entire surface covered to your satisfaction without going over the same spot twice. A round foam brush is my choice, always. And for those who have not tried this technique before – here’s where the shoe pinches; when applying the second coat of paint you must avoid overlapping or re-stroking otherwise you risk ruining the weathered wood effect. But let me start from the beginning…

For this project I decorated a kitchen rack a friend of mine brought over one day. It was supposed to be a housewarming gift for the couple and their newly acquired apartment.
And that’s how it started:

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Step by step instructions for the picture above:

  1. chose two contrasting shades of paint
  2. apply the first coat (here: antique white), let it dry completely
  3. apply crackling medium with a clean, dry brush. The thicker the layer, the bigger the cracks. Here, I only covered some parts of the rack with the crackling medium for the most natural look – a partially aged piece of kitchen furniture. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in terms of drying time; it usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. It’s ok to extend the drying time, you should be able to achieve the aged look even if the crackle medium dries up completely.

And here’s what happens when you apply the second, contrasting coat of paint. Use small amount of paint and tapping motions. The cracks start to appear instantly. Again, let it dry thoroughly.

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The next step would be playing with colour. Ink pads are my favourite tools for creating backgrounds of colour. They are more forgiving then paints, very easy to remove if you’re not happy with the effect. Just have a go at having the piece you’re working on more than two dimensional. Don’t overdo though; as much as like some strokes of metallic shade (antique gold being my favourite) glittering at the edges or around the paper motifs, making the finished piece look too ‘glittery’ is too much if I’m concerned. (But of course de gustibus non disputandum est :).

Metallic rub-ons, relief paint, liquid bitumen – I use mainly these three to either age, distress, the piece or ‘colour’ it (or both, obviously).

Tip: Try cleaning your hands, stencils, brushes with baby wipes; these are not abrasive, but are very handy as you always create mess whatever you do when crafting (a lot of mess some would say… )

I use two brushes when working with liquid bitumen. Since it’s a sticky, white spirit-based solution, it difficult to preserve it’s original condition. To keep them fairly clean (and workable) I actually use kitchen wipes (baby wipes for more easily cleaned objects, like my hands for example 🙂

Here’s adding floral patterns with a brass stencil, liquid bitumen and a brush with stiff bristle.

I don’t have a picture of the finished piece, but the next collage should give you a rough idea how it turned out. (Chicken cut outs from a paper napkin, wooden embellishments by Kaiser Craft and a few coats of acrylic varnish)

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