Have you ever had a great idea for a project, but once you finished, it looked and felt WRONG? That’s exactly what happened with this tallboy dresser. Here’s a look at the before and my first attempt. In my opinion, the before looks better!
My original plan was to paint it with MMS Grain Sack. Then distress it to a chippy finish with the original stain showing through. As shown here, there was NO chipping. Instead, the entire dresser took on an old crackle finish.
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To get this ‘surprise’ effect, I cleaned with TSP, then used Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac instead of my usual BIN Primer . I think where I went wrong was I mixed in a small amount of Bonding Agent to the paint. Milk Paint being the unpredictable medium it is ~voila~ the entire dresser ended up crackled. Really crackled!
Old crackle paint finishes can look amazing on some pieces, but it wasn’t the look I was after for this particular dresser. It could have been the color, but something wasn’t doing it for me.
So, back to the drawing board.
I lightly sanded the last coat of milk paint using a 220 grit then mixed a custom Dark Grey using General Finishes Milk Paint. Approximately 5 parts Driftwood to 1 Part Lamp Black. I painted two coats over the original crackle finish (lightly sanding between coats) and ended up with a new twist on the old crackle finish!
I’m liking this! What do you think?
The crackle paint finish is subtle – yet adds SO much interest!
This dresser is silky smooth to the touch. But it has this gorgeous textured look when up close and personal, or when the light hits it just right. It looks similar to leather or an alligator finish!
If you’re interested in trying a finish similar to this, there are a lot of products on the market that will guarantee a crackle finish. Folk Art, Modern Masters, Martha Stewart and DecoArt all sell crackle mediums – just to name a few. A cheap and cheerful way to get a a textured finish is to apply Elmer’s Glue, and before it totally dries, apply your paint. Or, using an hairdryer to add heat while your paint is drying will also cause crackling to occur.
Sometimes, it’s these unexpected ‘accidents’ that turn out the most interesting pieces.
Toni Casso says
OK…my bathrooms all have crackle large vanities, and I want to change the color. Did you use a brush or spray paint to cover…(sanding between coats)? If a brush, brand and size would be helpful.
So without error…how should I start?
Well……I am happy to see your “surprise” as I have a mirror that I love that has a crackle paint in one of the trim pieces. Unfortunately, it does not go with my color scheme. I will try to delicately paint over it. I would LOVE for the crackle texture to still show!
thanks for sharing, and letting us all know that we aren’t the only ones that make mistakes! 🙂
Thanks Rejena and good luck with your mirror! 🙂
Cara Hafer says
The dresser is beautiful! Love the look! I have 2 old brass candlestick lamps and I didn’t know how I wanted to paint them. I’m going to try this crackle effect on them. I’m also about to take on my first furniture projects and have several great pieces to work with. You have given me so many ideas!
Oh, I’m so glad Cara! And I’d love to hear how your old brass candlestick lamps turn out. I think this would be a beautiful finish!
Karen Henderson says
Beautiful 😃😃😃 Looks like what you planned the whole time. Lesson learned, never give up!
Thank you Karen! X
Was that quarter-sawn mahogany veneer? Gorgeous! (I’m slowly trying to identify wood, hah :D)
I think the crackle finish actually looked really cool on the first try, but maybe it was too clean of a white? Maybe if you had used a more antique/yellowed from nicotine white, you would have loved it on the first go. 🙂 But, glad you redid it because wow!! That final piece is stunning! It really does look just like leather. Think, if you had only painted it brown, how many people could you have fooled into thinking you upholstered the whole piece in leather? 😉 The grey is such an elegant combination with the crackle finish.
I admit my tastes are a bit too contemporary for any sort of aged finish, but I can still appreciate the result! I can’t decide if this piece would look better as a console table in a wealthy estate or as a loved buffet in a cottage… so much personality no matter where it goes. 🙂
Hi Zovesta! I think you’re right – mahogany for sure. I’m making an effort to hone my skills on identifying wood types too. 🙂 And yes, if it was painted brown, it seriously could have passed for leather! I stumbled across a great faux leather technique. 🙂
Jessie Ruedas says
What a talent! I have salvaged items and paint and brushes but not time to do it! This is what I wish to someday implement on my weekends someday soon. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your talent!
Thanks Jessie! Painting furniture is time consuming. But if your heart and creative desire is pulling you in that direction – which I’m guessing it is if you have all the supplies raring to go 😉 – I hope you make the time to explore. 🙂
This is so gorgeous, thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks Trish! xo
Patricia Bell says
Hi, I am a newbie to your wonderful site! So glad to have found you! I love the pattern that you ended up with and the color is simply perfect.
Looking forward to the next post!
Thank you and welcome Patricia! I’m so glad you’ve found the SI Blog too! x
Cynthia Kay says
Wow Denise ! It turned out beautifully and it really does look like alligator. Very cool !
Believe me when I say you are not alone in visions gone wrong department ! I had a vision for a pretty botanical dresser using vintage wall paper & paint and it was definitely “not right” . I ripped it all off, shed a few tears, said a few swear words under my breath and walked away for a bit. It ended up turning out beautifully. I figure some pieces lead us along a journey in order to teach us something new 🙂
….”some pieces lead us along a journey in order to teach us something new.”… Love this Cynthia. Well said and so true! <3
What an interesting dresser…those feet, your eye is just drawn to them almost like they don’t belong! I love it 🙂 I also love the crackle finish you ended up with. Like you said some times the most unexpected thing happens when painting old pieces. I recently crackled a mirror using the Elmer’s glue and blow dryer method. To my surprise it actually worked really well! As always, love your posts Denise 🙂 Thanks
Thanks Annie… and I wish my feet got as many compliments as these bun feet are getting…lol. 😉 Have a great day!
I love the color and the finish! Beautiful!
Thanks Judy 🙂
You could of saved yourself a lot of bother by using the General Finishes Java Gel would of looked amazing.
That would have looked nice for sure – love GF Java Gel.
It looks amazing, I love the white the gray , but I have been wandering if I used chalk paint Annie the color graphite and I want some clacking how do I go about ? Thanks for teaching us and chearing so many beautiful pieces !🌸🌸💙🌸🌸💙
Thanks Eliane! When using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint you can get a crackle effect using a crackle medium, applying heat with a hairdryer while the paint is still drying, or cooling the Chalk Paint in the refrigerator as described here in AS Tips & Tricks – I’ve never tried that one though!
Denise, that’s perfect! I have a dresser almost identical to yours that I began in the lighter shade of gray. It’s been sitting unfinished as I just wasn’t happy with the color. Well, I’m in love with the color and finish of this gem. I want to copy yours … it’s awesome! 😉
Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t get it right on the first shot. 😉 Copy away my friend… they can be twins..lol
Janet Baker says
Beautiful I was just thinking it really looks like leather I love the way it turned out but I gotta say I liked it the other way too lol
Thanks Janet – that’s sweet of you to say. As Patricia (previous comment) mentioned, I probably could have saved myself some extra work. I could have did a once over with stain OR left the original crackle as it was, but it just wasn’t sitting right with me. The joys of a creative monkey mind…lol 😉 🙂 😉
I like it, it looks like leather!
Thanks Sue. And it does look like leather… feels smooth as glass though. 🙂
Awesome! Love that shade of grey too. Maybe the bonding agent/white milk paint caused some reaction to the shellac primer resulting in all the crackling? Who knows right? …..ours not to reason why, ours but to repaint & sigh!!! LOL Thanks for tips.
I think you’re right Tracy. I remember reading an older article from Sausha at Sweet Pickins talking about shellac causing crackling/alligator finish. Just as you say….”ours not to reason why, ours but to repaint!”… love this!…LOL
What a beautiful dresser. Love the subtle alligator finish and the drawer pulls.
Thanks so much Monique! I bought these drawer pulls from Lee Valley but it’s time to make another Hobby Lobby run. 🙂
I like it a lot! Really cool 🙂 I experienced it a lot of times, I start to create a piece in my artwork, I have some idea how it will look, then in the meantime the piece comes to life and finishes itself :O
May I ask, what did you use to seal the surface? I like the fine silky shine of it. If it is wax, what is your experience, does it give enough protection for a piece which will be in use?
Thanks Adrienn! I used GF High Performance Water-Based Poly to topcoat this piece. A total of 3 coats were sprayed on for a professional finish. It looks and feels smooth as silk and the sheen is nice too. I also topcoat many of my pieces with wax. I find wax quite durable and forgiving, but for higher traffic items I often use poly. Hey – just checked out your page and love your handmade jewellery btw! Those cactus leaves really do look like lace!