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Crackle Medium Vs. White Glue: Which is Best?

The crackle effect is one way to create interest in your painting projects, but if you're working with a large piece, commercial crackle medium can get expensive in a hurry. Recently I was encouraged to try white glue as a means to achieve the crackle effect, so I decided to do an experiment to compare results of the two. This is what I found:
Difficulty: Easy
I started with two identical frosted bottles.
I gave them each three coats of white chalk paint, allowing them to completely dry between each coat. White chalk paint is my favorite base coat for crackle projects because of its ultra matte finish, which I think looks great for the base layer. You can use most any color you want. Remember, this is what will show from underneath when the top coat of paint crackles.
Next, I applied the crackle medium to one bottle,
and white glue to the other.
The crackle medium dried first, so I added the top coat of paint and you can see that it began crackling before I even finished painting the entire bottle.
It produced a light, crackle effect over the entire bottle.
When the white glue bottle was dry, I gave it a coat of the same paint. It didn't begin to crackle as quickly, so I gave it some time to completely dry.
When it dried, this was the results I had from the two bottles: the crackle medium bottle had a fine-grained crackle texture. The white glue bottle had no crackling at all. I remembered reading advice to apply the top coat of paint before the glue completely dries, so I grabbed another bottle and repeated the layers of chalk paint and white glue, but allowed the glue to only dry to a tacky stage before adding the top coat of blue paint.
This time I got a crackle! The white paint produced a much more dramatic effect than the crackle medium.
The only drawback was that in a couple of areas where I had applied the glue too thick, it had run down the side of the bottle before drying and left gaps. A little more practice with this technique should fix that problem. I always use a generous application of crackle medium, but it's going to take a more deliberate and careful application of white glue.
In the end, I had a trio of blue bottles to compare results with. The commercial crackle medium is on the left. The white glue that was allowed to dry completely is in the middle, and the white glue allowed to dry only to the tacky stage is on the right.
The Verdict: I found the crackle medium to be more consistent and easier to work with. However, for larger projects that can get expensive. The four-ounce bottle I purchased cost $3.99, and the same amount of white glue was a mere .50 over the summer during Back to School sales. For small projects I’ll probably stick with the crackle medium, but for larger ones I think it’s worth my time to hone my skills with the glue method. I plan to give it a try on wood next. I’m thinking a few large crackled frames would look great. What do you think?

Materials used for this project:

  • Empty wine bottles   (on hand)
  • White chalk paint   (Hobby Lobby)
  • Crackle medium   (Hobby Lobby)
See all materials

To see more: http://www.toworkwithmyhands.com/2017/01/crackle-medium-vs-white-glue-which-is-best.html

Ask the creator about this project

  • Kelleysgirl
    Kelleysgirl Friendswood, TX
    on Jan 24, 2017

    I knew you could use that mucilage glue to achieve that crackle finish- did it many years ago. But I did not know that regular old school glue would work as well. I will definitely be trying this. Thanks!

    • To Work With My Hands
      To Work With My Hands
      on Jan 24, 2017

      I've still got some practicing to do with this method, but I'm excited about the possibilities!

  • Kmkrkj
    on Jan 24, 2017

    You stated that you started with frosted bottles you had on hand. Where did you get them?

  • Brenda  S.
    Brenda S. North Brunswick, NJ
    on Jan 24, 2017

    Love them both! :) These look awesome!

    • To Work With My Hands
      To Work With My Hands
      on Jan 24, 2017

      Thank you, Brenda. I think each method has its own strengths. It will be fun to keep experimenting.

  • Miriam I
    Miriam I Bay Shore, NY
    on Jan 25, 2017

    Wow, love the blue!

  • Diana Deiley
    Diana Deiley Nokomis, FL
    on Jan 26, 2017

    I have crackled many pieces of furniture through the years and have used both inclusive of hide glue. The more glue you use, the larger the cracks. For the antique dainty look I always use the crackle medium sparingly. You did a great job and created inspiration for others. Thanks for sharing all your tips. Would love to see your furniture creation!

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