Foolproof Craqueleur by RGC

By Barb Skivington for Real Girls Create 

Annie Sloan Craqueleur is an easy-to-use clear crackle varnish that replicates the look of an old varnish that has cracked over time, like that found on an Old Masters painting.

Craqueleur applied over a decoupaged image and gilding.

Before you begin, learn to embrace the imperfect nature of a craqueleur finish — using this two-part Craqueleur is not an exact science and no two pieces will ever be the same. You should experiment with this product several times before applying it to an actual project.

Craqueleur is recommended for use as an accent over smaller areas. It is not suitable for large surfaces such as tabletops and kitchen cabinets. It adds a beautiful finishing touch over paintwork, stenciling, gilding, decoupage, ceramics, or even a painting to give a beautiful crackled effect. Craqueluer should not be applied over a waxed finish.



Before you begin ensure that your surface is clean and free of wax.

Brush on an even coat of Craqueleur Step 1. The direction of the brush strokes does not matter. Clean your brush immediately with hot soapy water. Leave Step 1 to dry. You can speed the drying along with the aid of a hair dryer.

The size of the cracks can vary widely depending on the thickness of application and the temperature and humidity in the workspace. Thinner applications will result in smaller cracks whereas thicker applications produce larger cracks but take care to not apply these materials too thickly. If you apply two coats of Step 1 you will get a larger crack, but if you overwork Step 2 the crack is likely to be smaller.

Next, brush on a coat of Craqueleur Step 2. In the pot this is a rather thick material, but it is easily spread so don’t be tempted to thin it with water. A quick stir will help loosen it up. The cracks will follow the direction of your brushstrokes, so if you are wanting elongated cracks move your brush in a linear direction; for irregular cracks move your brush every which way. You can vary the application thickness but don’t apply it too thickly or the result may end up looking like puddles rather than cracks and coats applied to vertical surfaces may run and drip. Take care to not overwork this layer. Clean your brush immediately with hot soapy water.

If your painting environment is warm and dry, you can let the piece dry naturally. This takes about an hour. If the weather is damp and humid, or you are wanting to speed up the drying process, you can dry Step 2 with a hair dryer on a warm setting. Be careful to not get the hair dryer too close to the surface as this could result in bubbles and wrinkles in the Step 2 material when it dries.

It is best to apply Craqueleur in a warm dry atmosphere. If the surface has any moisture in it or comes in contact with extreme heat, the Craqueleur could continue to crack and possibly bubble or lift. A room that gets steamy, such as a bathroom, is not the best choice for a Craqueleur finish.


Using a soft cloth, gently spread a thin coat of a colored Chalk Paint® Wax over the cracked varnish. Using a colored wax will accentuate the cracks, causing them to standout against the underlying color. Work in manageable sections at a time, wiping off any excess with a clean absorbent cloth as you go. Gently rub away some of the excess color with a small amount of Clear Wax on a clean cloth, leaving the colored wax in the cracks. Let the remaining wax dry overnight, then buff with a soft cloth.


Permission to publish this article given expressly to 3PaintGirls by Barb’s estate.