Step 21: How the Crackle Should Appear Before Staining
Once the bottom coat has dried enough (it will feel slightly tacky all over), you want to lay down the top coat in very smooth, light strokes. It means that you load the varnish/wash brush and stroke lightly and straight, without fussing or trying to spread it out. Crackle works best when that top coat is an even layer of thickness, undisturbed. The thinner that top coat is, the thinner your cracks. Your lighting really matters here because if you miss a place, you won't see that until you have applied paint into the cracks. Because this layer is so important, do only one side at a time. It should dry while the piece is lying flat, so gravity won't affect the layer. TIP: Do not use a foam brush. Even good ones create lots of bubbles, each one of which will disturb the forming cracks. The photograph shows the clear crackled finish on part of the back support. You are going to force paint into the cracks, so you can see them, and wipe most or all of the paint back off the surface.