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Friday, 3 March 2017

Crackle Paste

Voluptuous, acrylic, 11” x 14”

Blog 9

As March Break falls into this month, I dedicate this month’s blogs to experimenting with different gels and pastes. Some of the materials are not only great for artists but can be easily used with your children or grandchildren for some creative activities.

This week, I am looking at Crackle Paste, a product I have used in a couple of workshops because it creates a neat mosaic effect.

Crackle Paste is a thick, opaque material that is designed to develop deep fissure-like cracks as it dries. The width of the cracks depends on the thickness of application, the temperature, humidity and airflow. The thicker you apply Crackle Paste, the deeper the cracks will be.

The best way to apply Crackle Paste is with a painting knife to get a nice thick coat onto the surface. Crackle Paste will retain tool marks. The shape of the cracks cannot be influenced as the cracks appear randomly. Generally, most cracking occurs within a day or less, but thicker applications may actually take a couple of days to fully develop all of the cracks. It is best to use Crackle Paste on a sturdy support because paper and stretched canvas will warp.

There are several ways to work with Crackle Paste. You can colour the background before you add Crackle Paste. This way, you will be able to see the colour of the background in the cracks.

You can also start on a white background and add the Crackle Paste out of the jar. The slightly coarse paste dries to a white and hard three dimensional surface. The dry paste is very absorbent. Once the paste is dry you can apply paint. However, try to use thinned paints, washes, or glazes as thick layers of paint will fill the cracks.

Another option is tinting the paste before application with acrylic paints. This is what I did for my one-day workshops when we did not have the time to wait for the paste to dry. To avoid reducing the cracking ability, the amount of paint should not exceed more than 10%.

You can add gels to your paints. A matte gel will help to increase the film strength and reduce the absorbency but will not alter the appearance of the Crackle Past. If you would like to change appearance you could choose a glossy version. It would be a fun experiment to test different gels on one prepared substrate to see the differences side by side.

The finished painting should be sealed with a medium and then varnished to avoid dirt from setting on the highly absorbent surface. and the cracks. A 2:1 Soft Gel (Gloss) water mixture works well. If you would like to keep the matte appearance you should pick a matte varnish.

If you want to preserve the look of your image for eternity, it is advisable to add Titanium White (up to 10%) to the Crackle Paste to avoid yellowing. Yellowing will be especially noticeable if you applied light colours on top of the Crackle Paste. The use of a varnish containing UV Light Stabilizers will also help to reduce the amount of harmful UV light reaching the Crackle Paste.

Have you used Crackle Paste before? I would love to see some of your artworks with Crackle Paste.

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