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Crackle Header

One of my favorite projects is making signs out of reclaimed wood, however it wasn’t until a few days ago when I decided to try a crackle finish using the old back to school staple: Elmer’s School Glue.  I had read about this technique a few times and then quickly forgot about it.  That is until I decided a good old distressing wouldn’t give this sign the look I was going for.   Ok, fine I also wanted an excuse to play with my favorite elementary school item!

I wanted to start off simple, with a classic black and white crackle.  I sanded down my piece of wood and then spray painted it black, and let that dry.  I then made the mistake of glopping on about half of my glue bottle and spreading it over the piece of wood with my fingers.  I may have thought I was back in Kindergarten for a moment.  I had read in a few places that the more glue you use the bigger the cracks will be, and this was the initial look I was going for.  When the glue was still tacky I glopped on the white acrylic paint over the glue, and spread it out with a paint brush.  All the tutorials I read said do NOT go back over your brush strokes, just spread the paint over the still wet glue, all in the same direction.

I never was a good listener.  I saw the splotchy areas and went back and forth very gently with my brush and tried to fill in the gaps.  Ok, I may have gone back and forth a few times.  I was quickly creating a thick mess.  After a few hours my sign was still not dry, and I realized this was not the look I was going for.   I must have made a few mistakes.


I was on a mission to find the right way to use this glue.  I went back and read more about it and decided to try putting the glue on much thinner this time.  But first I had to wipe off that gooey mess.  Luckily since it was still wet, it came off pretty easily.  I then spread a very THIN layer of the glue, using a paint brush this time.  I waited for the glue to get slightly tacky, and then used another paintbrush to add a light layer of the white acrylic top coat.  I was sure to go in one direction and stop.  NO going back and forth over the glue.  Not this time.  I did some short and some long brush strokes, all going from left to right.  I could see the glue and paint already starting to dry, and…wait for it…crackle.  And boy was it a beautiful sight!

crackle finish

Since I am also impatient I got out the blow dryer to speed up the process, and it worked! My sign was now crackled and dry in under ten minutes! I would have still been waiting for the initial sign to dry if I didn’t decide to give the technique another shot!

I then drew out the lettering I wanted to use as a guide , and painted over it with a black acrylic paint.


Ah success! I finally used the Elmer’s Glue Crackle Technique, and now I was hooked!

The benefits: Elmer’s Glue is insanely cheap, less than a dollar at some places! Much cheaper than buying the spray or kits. In fact, it may be wise for me to stock up! I think it also looks more natural than the bought stuff.  Lastly, you have way more color possibilities as you can mix and match your base and top coat, and mix your own colors with acrylic paints.  I think my next combo will coral and turquoise!

LLLon Green


side view

with flowers

* I used Elmer’s School Glue, wondering if anyone has had success with any other types of glue?

**Check out my Etsy Shop (page also located in header on my blog) for examples of other signs available to order.  I will be updating inventory regularly.

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