My Distress Crackle Paint Test – Perplexing Results

Distress Crackle PaintVideo #389: A call out to anyone who’s had success getting this product to stick to polymer clay…

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Distress Crackle Paint by Ranger is a paint product that gives the look of old, peeling and crackled paint onto surfaces such as paper, wood and Paper Mache.
  • I have seen people use it on polymer clay, so this being the PcT Test Lab, I just had to test it for myself.
  • My test samples however, have shown the paint to completely flake off of my baked Premo polymer clay.
  • So… I have either done something wrong, or the paint actually doesn’t work on polymer clay… help!

Question of the Day:

Have you used Distress Crackle Paint on polymer clay before? If so, has it worked for you? And if it did, please tell me what you did!?

I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Sue F, 13 June, 2013

    I haven’t tried that particular paint and can’t get hold of any really quickly, but one trick that helped me in a couple of similar situations was to first apply an “undercoat” layer of normal acrylic paint (one that you know won’t flake off the baked clay), and then apply the “problem” paint (e.g. the Distress Crackle Paint) on top of that. No guarantees though! ;)

  2. Dixie Ann, 13 June, 2013

    I have not ever tried the Distress Paints as I thought them to be just for the card makers. However, Sue’s suggestion sounds very valid to me and would be a good tip to try. Usually acrylic paints wiil stick ot other acrylic paints.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 13 June, 2013

    Thanks guys! You gals may be on to something there. Basically putting an acrylic paint in between the two products would be acting like a primer. Like when you want to paint something glossy and non-porous like ceramic tile, so you use a high bond primer first that sticks to the tile and then add your paint layer on top of that. Will have to try that. Not sure why I didn’t think of that myself? I guess since I had heard of other people using it on polymer, I just assumed they used it directly on the clay, because they didn’t mention otherwise… but we all know what it means to assume things don’t we? LOL

  4. Evelien G, 14 June, 2013

    The crackle paint base is usually an oil based paint while the top layer is an acrylic one (If I remember correctly from my model making days) That might explain why it comes off after baking. If oil paint can be used on Polymer would it help to paint a layer on the unbaked paint and bake it before applying another base coat and after an acrylic layer?

  5. Cheyrl B, 14 June, 2013

    As always my first thought is to wonder if a shot of PYMII would seal it in. I did a treatment on some white tiles with alcahol ink to make them look like a bright orange marble then shot them with pymII but I could still scratch the finish off so I hit them with a clear spray paint by rustoleum and now I don’t think a nuclear blast would harm the finish which is good because I used them on a mosaic coffee table top. I do like the clear spray varnish for sealing things in and wonder how it would react with the clay, best of all it is very affordable

  6. Lawrence, 14 June, 2013

    After watching the video and reading the comments I went to my failed experiments box in the garage. In Dec. I tried the distress crackle paint (clear rock candy) as an afterthought on a faux raku bowl (Christmas gift).over the mica finish. Perfect Pearls is my mica choice. I was not pleased with the crackle effect. Maybe I applied too much as it puddled and ran from the rim of the bowl to where I didn’t want. I sprayed it front and back with PYM2 but still didn’t like it, thus relegated it to the failed experiments.
    Too late to make a long story short LOL but only a bomb would remove that crackle now. I even tried a nailfile and flexed the bowl – 4 3/4″ / 12.5 cm.
    RESULT-still chuck the bowl.. However, I am not sure if it was its adhering to the perfect pearls or the PYM2 that made it so strong.

  7. Cindy Lietz, 18 June, 2013

    Hey Lawrence, nice to hear from you! That is very interesting information. Something that I will have to test out myself. It seems from comments here, on YouTube and on Facebook, that the Distress Crackle Paint will stick to polymer clay if it has a product in between the clay and the crackle that is polymer compatible. From what you’re saying, it may have been the layer of perfect pearls before the crackle finish, that caused it to stick.

    I just saw on Pinterest yesterday where someone was having trouble getting the Distress Crackle Paint to stick to a glass bottle. She finally found success when she used Rangers Glue N’Seal Matte as a primer on the bottle and then added the Distress Crackle Paint.

    Also someone commented on my Facebook page that she had found success by putting a layer of chalk ink on raw clay and then adding the Distress Crackle Paint. So I am thinking there may be several options that will work as a ‘go between’ the polymer and the crackle.

    So from all of this, it appears that Distress Crackle Paint will work on polymer clay but that some critical details were left out of the information that was shared on the net in order for it to work properly. This is so typical!! It is one of the biggest flaws I see in a lot of what is shared in books, magazines, the internet, on YouTube and in some people’s tutorials. Important info should not be left out, or there is no point in sharing/selling the info in the first place!

    Any who… thank you so much for popping in and sharing the results of your experiments! Even if your project did not turn out how you wanted it to, it brought some valuable knowledge to light. So in the end it was a success. It may be an ugly un-giftable success… but a success none the less! LOL

    I appreciate you passing your testing along, Lawrence. It is great to hear from you again!

  8. Lawrence, 18 June, 2013

    Thanks for the reply Cindy and also thanks many times over for testing these products for us. If you had done it last Fall it might have saved me some grief.
    There are many household products we can use for crackle such as egg whites or a corn starch paste, dried overnight is best, and then painted with a non water based paint or ink. A brief rinse in warm water removes the dried paste and your crackle is there for you to then finish and cure your project.
    I’m always trying to be green or save money ;-)

  9. Cheyrl B, 19 June, 2013

    Hi lawrence,
    Cheap and green two of my most favorite things! Do tell though what are the recipes for those things you mentioned? it would be to easy to just slap them on right out of the egg so to speak. if there is to much info for here please feel free to get my e-mail from Cindy and send it there I would love to exchange lean green info with you.

  10. Lawrence, 19 June, 2013

    Hi Cheryl; LOL ! Egg fight…..Use just the white of the egg(well mixed) and just enough to lightly coat your project. It dries overnight with some crackle but lightly using your brayer will increase the size of the crackle. I choose not to use my pasta machine as it means a cleanup afterwards.
    The same goes for the corn starch slurry. It does take practice.Egg white and cornstarch mixed might even work?
    I guess any product that does not react with clay and dries in a reasonable time could work as long as it washes off leaving the painted crackle lines behind.

  11. Tracy M, 17 June, 2013

    Hi there
    I have made some polymer clay pendants with a photo transfer on it, but not sure if can I sand it and polishes it on the photo, scared that the photo will can off??????
    Please help

  12. Cindy Lietz, 18 June, 2013

    Hi Tracy, well you are right to be scared. If you try and sand the photo image, you will sand the image off the clay. You can however, sand around the edges and the back, and you can buff the piece without wearing the image off. This is why it is quite important to have your clay as smooth and as flawless as possible before adding your image to it.

  13. Cheyrl B, 20 June, 2013

    HI, lawrence, thanks, I love new ideas and techniques, but being in the ” old dog, new trick ” set I need clear instructions, like do I just add water or is there something else like salt to cause the crackle effect, I also tend to over think things but Never hurts to ask.
    Cindy, I just recieved my Renaissance wax and put it on a jasper cabochon and one of my white on white leaf and flower pieces, while it does not seem to have the high shine of the varnishes it also does not have the brush marks and I really like the more natural look. One more thing about those white on white pieces, I really didn’t like the dull un-sanded look they had when they came out of the oven and so I pulled out my old sonicare toothbrush loaded it up with baking soda and went to town, Big surprise it worked! There is also the added benefit of finding out what didn’t bond with the bake and bond ( I probably didn’t use enough ) the only thing that came off was a cluster of 3 black balls from inside one of the flowers, ( the only color on the piece, so essential ) a little weldbond and it was as good as new. I just love discovering new things and on this site I learn new every day and fridays are like mini x-mases, I can’t wait to open my mail and see what you have for us this time. So if I haven’t said it recently…Thank you.

  14. Lawrence, 20 June, 2013

    Definitely no water in the egg white mixture and very little in the corn starch as per above. I think I will try flour and a little water today as that is what our grandparents use to use for a wallpaper paste.

  15. Toni H., 22 June, 2013

    I wonder if you could seal the crackle paint effect with resin once it is the way you want it to look? Just so the product doesn’t go to waste.

  16. Emily G, 30 June, 2013

    Just my two cents here…
    I have had success with layering polyurethane satin between the polyclay and the Ranger Distress crackle. I have noticed that if I let my clear base layer dry on my clay overnight and do the crackle the next day it works fantastically. If I dry it with a heat gun, let it cool and then put the crackle on (who wants to wait a day?) it really doesn’t work all that well. I don’t know if there is still a certain amount of moisture in the clear base coat keeping it too flexible or what but I haven’t found a way to speed it up and still get a great crackle afterwards. Maybe the toaster oven would dry it out better than the heat gun. Hmmm. This is a great exploration.

  17. Cindy Lietz, 03 July, 2013

    Thanks so much Emily for sharing your info with us! I really appreciate it! The reason why it works better when you wait a day for the Polyurethane to dry before adding the Distress Crackle Paint is most likely due to the gasses that the Polyurethane releases while it cures. They are probably messing up the crackling process of the paint. That is often the reason why they say there needs to be several hours between coats on some paints and finishes. You can usually get away with speed drying acrylic paints with a hairdryer or heat gun, but some of the more complicated finishes are a little more picky. That’s awesome that you figured out a solution that works! Thanks for popping by and letting us know!

  18. Deana M, 18 December, 2015

    Hello Cindy,

    I was wondering if you ever experimented with the Kroma Crackle. I also wasn’t sure if Lawrence was using it on raw or baked clay. I’m trying to find something that produces a very fine crackle. It seems Anita’s Fragile Crackle is no longer available and I’m trying to find something comparable.

    Thank you,

  19. Debi S, 09 April, 2014

    I ran accross a Sculpy blog post today and , although I just quickly read the directions, I think they put the krakel medium on unbaked clay… Let it dry the baked it…. And it was not Ranger brand…and that may be some of the difference. I’m gonna go and see if you’ve done a more recent test with any crackle mediums since this video tute!!!! Thanks for all you do!!

  20. Maureen Houston, 12 December, 2014

    I saw a You Tube video where the Distress Paint was used on raw clay (sorry, I do not know the lady’s name) – let it dry and crackle – then add liquid clay on top – bake as usual … it no longer flakes off .. I have tried it and have had success – although I do not know about long term – I added Alene’s pendant gel after baking to really seal it … and give it a great shine! (I learned that tip from another Cindy video!) My next experiment will be to add some alcohol inks somewhere in the process!

  21. Lawrence, 12 December, 2014

    Wow….glad t see this thread is still active. So many of these green products sometimes work as well as the Ranger products.
    However ,my new favorite is the” Kroma Crackle Medium”. It is not cheap but like the Renaissance wax, a little goes a long way. I get mine at a local art supply store , DeSerres. I have not checked to see if Cindy has tested it yet but you can Google it to find it online or at your local art supply store.

  22. Cindy Lietz, 19 December, 2014

    Sounds like a cool product Lawrence! I haven’t heard of it yet. Will check it out the next visit into DeSerres. Thanks for letting us know about it. Have a very Merry Christmas! And be prepared for a very creative New Year!

  23. Lawrence, 20 December, 2014

    Thanks Cindy. I heard about it via a European artist and then found out it is manufactured right here in Vancouver, with their outlet/store on Granville Island. I remember Nancy Quinn using their acrylics but never connected the name with the crackle medium.
    BTW Joan Tayler, Ellen Kocher and I have started making our own Silk Screens, Yipee and I purchased a Silhouette Cameo Cutter and we want to try making our own stencils in the New Year.There goes a chunk of my 2015 PC budget ;-)
    Merry Christmas to you,Doug and family and I am looking forward to an artful and creative New Year.

  24. Maureen Houston, 13 December, 2014

    I have just started experimenting with the Kroma crackle medium also. I used it on baked and on raw clay. Let it dry, add some alcohol inks. Let them dry. On the raw clay, I added a thin layer of liquid clay and then baked. It worked great. Also, because it is still flexible in the raw state, you can help the cracks along with your fingers (Bend gently) before adding the ink. Also added Alene’s pendant gel after all was completed to seal the inks.

  25. Cindy Lietz, 19 December, 2014

    That sounds excellent Maureen! Thanks for letting us know about your results. I am going to have to do some testing with it myself. It sounds fun!

  26. Maureen Houston, 19 December, 2014

    oops … I used Golden Crackle Paste … but I think it is basically the same acrylic medium – sorry for the confusion!

  27. Cindy Lietz, 29 December, 2015

    Thanks Maureen for the clarification. That is good to know!

  28. Hermine R, 19 December, 2015

    I have used it on raw clay too, Let it rest about 1 hour and it is great. if i had to choose though my vote would go to the Pardo Facetten lack, the only problem is that it dries fast in the bottle and it’s not available anymore in my De Serres.I loved that in came in colours allready.

    Cindy I saw this Poly-Fast Sanding Tool on a French site do you know about it? It’s a smaller sander than the great Jool tool. What do you think?

  29. Cindy Lietz, 29 December, 2015

    Hi Hermine, I haven’t tried the Pardo Facetten Lack before… even the name sounds intriguing. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

    I went to that French site to check out that tool. I had never heard of it. It would be a neat one to test out. I don’t really like the small the sanding discs or the battery operated part though. With the amount of clay I sand I would be going through grits and batteries like mad. Though at least the disks are much bigger than the toothbrush sanders people have made to use on polymer clay.

    I think you would be better off with using a larger sander . to be honest. (I have some ideas on how to use some readily available sanders like orbital sanders instead, that would make a cheaper alternative to the JoolTool or even this tool. As soon as the site is done I will put it on the list to figure out.) This sander looks to be in the $60 – $90 range depending on currency and I don’t know what it would cost shipping wise, but it does seem that it was specifically designed for the polymer clay artist which is nice.

    I’d have to really test it myself to give you any more advice than that. Thanks for letting me know about it. It is nice to see more people making tools to solve the issues that we have making beautiful polymer clay pieces.

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