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Kroma crackle samples

Big initial MWhat the heck is THAT stuff? Multicolored elephant hide? It is actually a new product we told you about in January, after returning from the Craft and Hobby Association’s annual show in southern California.

Kroma crackle tubeIt’s called Kroma Crackle, and it’s the first crackle medium that can be used on flexible surfaces. (A medium is the fluid that paint companies add pigment to so as to make paints.) We’ve been testing it on leather since we got a tube and finally (it helps if you read all the directions…) got results good enough to report to you.

I am going to refer you to the Kroma Crackle website for detailed instructions, but I will walk you through the process I used, and give you two tips specific for working on leather. Also, bear in mind that the successful project I did was a handbag, which typically will get less stress and bending than shoes. Destiny and I are doing some shoes next, but we didn’t want to have to wait any longer to tell you about this.

Kroma bag before and painted-001

I chose a leather bag with a big flat surface to make it easy to work on and to get a big display area for the crackles. The first step in using Kroma Crackle on ANYTHING is to paint the surface with acrylic paint. I chose a fabric/leather paint called Neopaque in a medium blue shade. This color is what you’ll see between the cracks when you’re done.

Kroma crackle applied

Next you squeeze a big dollop of Kroma Crackle into a paint cup and stir in a little of the paint color you want the crackle to be. I chose Lumiere’s Pearlescent Emerald. The instructions say to just use a little of the colored paint so as not to interfere with the ability of the crackle to adhere to the surface. If you don’t add any color, the crackle will dry white, as in the photo at the top of this post. (In that photo, it’s not quite dry yet.)

You apply the crackle to the surface with a palette knife, as if you were icing a cake. The thicker the coat of crackle you apply, the bigger the cracks. Now comes the hardest part: Waiting for it to dry! It takes about three days. Keep an eye on it, and if the crackle starts to peel up too much, press it down with your fingers. (The final steps in ths process will ensure it won’t peel when you actually use the bag — or whatever.)

Kroma crackle closeup

Close-up of plain white crackle as it dries

Once the crackle is fully dry, DON’T succumb to temptation and bend the leather, proud of the job you’ve done. (Like I did.) Now you need to apply a clear coat of paint to seal those cool little cracks to the surface. The Kroma website recommends any artist’s medium, but I found that wasn’t strong enough to stand up to serious bending and re-bending, like the flap of this bag gets.

Kroma crackle blog pics-005 resized Kroma crackle blog pics-006 resized

Instead, I used our own clear leather medium, Glitter It Glaze without the glitter. I brushed on a thick coat, let it dry, then sealed with a shiny coat of Pledge Floor Finisher, as I would any coat of leather paint.

Kroma dry-brushed samples

Samples of Kroma Crackle dry-brushed with various colors of Lumiere

The nice people at Kroma say you can also tint the finished crackles by dry brushing on color or applying a color wash, but I found that doing either got color in the cracks more than I liked.

Kroma crackle blog pics-007 resized

To finish off the bag, I painted the back and the front area underneath the flap with Angelus leather paint in Sapphire. I also glued Kaffe Fassett cotton fabric over the “wrong” side of the flap as it had some stains on it. I glued the fabric down with Fabri-tac, then sat back and enjoyed my accomplishment!

For detailed directions on using Kroma Crackle, go to their website, www.KromaCrackle.com. (There’s also a great new video they’ve done at http://vimeo.com/63631880.) The only two adjustments to their directions you’ll need to make when doing shoes and bags is to use paint that is formulated for leather and manmade leather, like Lumiere, Neopaque or Angelus, and to use a sealant medium that is also made for those materials, like our clear-drying Glitter It Glaze base.

Mouse and crackle bag

Our cat gives my Kroma Crackle bag his seal — er, paw — of approval

Last thing: Practice first! There are lots of little things to discover, like the fact that the crackle needs to dry horizontally so it doesn’t drip or run, which would mean doing crackle on your shoes in different stages. But don’t let any of these cautions discourage you.

This is COOL stuff, which you can also use on paper, fabric, canvas, wood, and metal. Any questions about it, contact the Kroma folks via their website or their Facebook page. There are also lots of fascinating examples on their Pinterest board.

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