Home Front: Furniture Faux Pas 

click to enlarge hfcrackle100.jpg

On the hunt for a TV cabinet, I spotted a piece from This End Up at Diversity Thrift that would work nicely. It was sturdy. It was serviceable. And, at $25, it was cheap.

But it was very This End Uppy, with a dull-brown stain. I decided to apply a black-over-red crackle finish that would give the cabinet antique credentials. I bought all the materials -- the primer, paint, crackle goop and lacquer — and assiduously followed the instructions.

When I was finished, I stepped back and frowned. It did not look like a rustic piece salvaged from a barn. It looked like a 6-year-old with poor motor skills had been told to paint a This End Up cabinet.

The crackle pattern only showed up in patches. Here and there, paint had wrinkled where it pulled away from the crackle coat.

What did I do wrong? I called local faux-finish pro Sunny Goode, founder of Sunny's Goodtime Paints, to find out.

  • I spent $8 on special crackle finish when Elmer's glue would have sufficed. "It works just the same," Goode points out.

  • I failed to apply the crackle stuff evenly. I was a little sloppy, and it showed. The heavier the crackle coat, the more pronounced the effect. Unfortunately, I laid it on heavily in some places, not at all in others.

  • I expected a perfect, delicate pattern. Even Goode has a hard time with this particular technique: "I don't use crackle finish much, because I can't control the process," she says. Instead, she says, she uses sanding and distressing techniques — like beating furniture with a hammer or a chain — and follows that treatment with an antiquing glaze. Much more fun.

    Goode prefers to use crackle only under two or more layers of paint, for a more subtle antiquing effect. Following her advice, I painted black over my haphazard attempt at faux finishing. Finally, it looks good. Sort of like a This End Up cabinet salvaged from an old barn.
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