A few weeks ago I was all excited about decorating and had made plans to stop at Dollarama (one of our Canadian dollar stores) for some supplies, but then life got busy and I kept saying that I would do it tomorrow, and then the next day and so on. With only four days left to Valentine’s Day, I finally decided that there was absolutely no way that I would have time to decorate this year.
Then this past weekend my 11-year-old daughter was feeling crafty and asked me if I would help her make some Valentine’s Day presents for a couple of her teachers. She had already bought a small wooden box from Michael’s craft store that she wanted to use for one gift and I suggested that we create some art with canvas panels that I had laying around the house for the other gift. Of course, I couldn’t forget about my 8-year-old son so we had to make something for his teacher as well.
Here is the crackle art that we made. I think they turned out really cute! Don’t you?
As well, below is the little wooden box that my daughter designed with a little help from me. I think she did a beautiful job!
She plans on filling it up with chocolate heart candies for her music teacher. I am sure her teacher will love it!
I know it’s probably a little late for you to gather up the supplies and make your own crackle art with it already being Valentine’s Day tomorrow, but I thought I would create a tutorial for you anyway. You can still “Pin” this project for next year to get an early start on Valentine’s Day. Don’t do like me and wait until the last minute!
Besides, the techniques that I explain in this tutorial could easily be used for a totally different project at any time of the year. All you would need to do is paint your canvas another color and use a different stencil and text and you would have something completely different.
To make your own Valentine’s Day Crackle Art…
- one 6″ X 8″ and one 8″ X 10″ canvas panel (or sizes of your choice) (found at the Dollar store for $1.00 each)
- acrylic paint for the front 6″ X 8″ canvas in colors of your choice (colors used: Titanium White and Rockwood Red)
- transparency film or a stencil of your choice
- acrylic paint for the back 8″ X 10″ canvas in colors of your choice (colors used: Titanium White, Dove Grey, Metallic Champagne)
- Golden Soft Gel Gloss Medium or another brand of gel medium
- text printed in “mirror image” using a laser printer for transferring to the canvas
- matte Mod Podge or other clear sealers
- Viva Croco Cracking Color in Transparent Clear and Viva Basecoat for porous surfaces (found at De Seers)
- a picture frame to fit your 8″ X 10″ canvas (optional)
- a stencil or Japanese paper for the 8″ X 10″ canvas
- paintbrushes and/or a stencil pouncer
- printer paper
- black Sharpie pen
- rubber brayer or spreader
- ruler and scissors
- plastic spatula
- spray bottle with water, kitchen dish scrubber, and paper towels
- newspaper or tin foil to protect your workspace
Mix together the Titanium White and Rockwood Red craft paint until you get the color you desire and then coat your 6″ X 8″ canvas with one coat of paint. Before it has a chance to dry, age your canvas by bouncing up and down on top of the wet paint with a damp scrunched up paper towel to create the design on the left. Or if you prefer, you can create the design on the right by dragging a damp paintbrush through the paint to create a striated effect.
Next, fold a piece of printer paper in half and cut out the shape of a heart. Check that it fits the top middle of your canvas.
With a Sharpie pen, trace out your heart shape onto a piece of transparency film or stencil acetate. Carefully cut it out and place your stencil on the canvas as shown above. Be sure to leave room for the text you are going to transfer later on.
Prepare a small mixture of Titanium White and Rockwood Red paint in a slightly lighter or darker shade than your canvas background and stencil the heart shape onto your canvas.
I printed out the phrase “Happy Valentine’s Day” to transfer onto the canvases but you could use whatever saying that you like. If you don’t want to transfer text then skip down past the next photo.
Instead of transferring the text, you could also use rub-on transfers, stickers, a paint pen, or a stencil to add text to your canvas.
To transfer the text to your canvas:
1. Print your image in reverse (“mirror image”) with a laser printer, then trim your text leaving a white border around it. Coat the area on your canvas where your text will be going with an even layer of gel medium. Don’t let the gel medium dry out.
2. Line up your text as straight as possible before placing it down onto the wet gel medium. Press down firmly then wipe away any excess medium. Next, use a brayer or a spreader to make sure your text is firmly stuck down. Leave your transfer to dry for up to 4 hours. To speed up the transfer you can use a blow dryer set on high for 5 minutes, but before moving on to the next step leave your canvas to cool for 5-10 minutes.
3. Wet the back of your transfer with water and then leave it to sit for a few minutes. Then use your pointer finger to rub away the paper backing. Be gentle or some of your text may rub off. TIP: A kitchen scrubber works great for removing the paper.
4. As you are removing the paper backing if some of your text comes off, don’t panic! This happened to me while preparing this tutorial. Sometimes it can be difficult to get a clean transfer when using text as there is usually not much ink there and it wants to come off with the paper. If this does happen to you your text can easily be touched up with a fine-tipped black Sharpie.
Once your transfer is dry, coat your canvas with 1-2 coats of matte Mod Podge.
Place your heart stencil back onto your canvas and line it up over your previously stenciled area.
Coat it will an even layer of Viva Color base coat. The base coat helps with the adhesion of the Croco Crackling Color medium in the next step. Leave your canvas to dry for at least 10 minutes before moving on to the next step.
This next part is my favorite! If you haven’t ever used Viva Croco Crackling Color before you are in for a real treat. It is so easy to use and it gives an amazingly shiny, crackled finish with oodles of character!
Using your spatula, apply the Croco Crackling Color medium over the top of your heart stencil working from the outside edges inwards to avoid getting the medium underneath your stencil.
Once you have applied the medium to all of the outer edges, add more medium to the middle section and use your spatula to spread it evenly across your stencil making sure to cover any bare areas. It is just like icing a cake!
TIPS: Whatever direction you apply the Croco Crackling Colour to your canvas will be the direction of the final cracks. Also, the thicker you apply the medium the bigger your cracks will be.
When you are happy with how your medium looks, carefully lift your stencil straight up. You should be left with a nice clean design. If you have more than one canvas to do, you can reuse the stencil as many times as you would like.
Make sure to wash all your tools immediately after use so the medium doesn’t dry on them. The transparency film can be just tossed into the garbage though.
Here are both of my canvases right after applying the Croco Crackle.
After about 10-20 minutes look closely at your heart. You will start to see small cracks appear along the edges. Then about an hour later you will see larger cracks appear as in the above photo.
As your medium dries it will become more and more transparent and your base color will show through. See the little white dots in the medium? These will show up in your final crackled finish and give it a gorgeous aged patina.
This is what the Croco Crackling Color looks like when it is fully dry (which takes about 24 hours). It looks like it almost has an “ombre” effect to it with the age spots and all.
If you like you can frame your canvas as is or you can take it a step further and use a larger 8″ X 10″ canvas panel to create an outer matte for your 6″ X 8″ canvas.
To paint your own 8″ X 10″ canvas, first, coat it with the Titanium White. Working on one side of the canvas at a time randomly apply the Metallic Champagne using a stencil or the Japanese paper that I had shared in the above-linked tutorial. On top of that apply the Dove Gray paint. When you lift your stencil your canvas should look identical to the one below.
To makeover, your picture frame, first, give it a light sanding with 400 grit sandpaper. Next, paint it with two coats of white acrylic Gesso leaving a small amount of the original base coat showing through. When your Gesso is dry, apply two coats of matte Mod Podge for protection.
Finally, attach your top canvas to the matted canvas as shown above using either Gorilla Glue or mounting tape. Then all that is left to do is to insert your art canvas into your frame and sit back and enjoy it!