Thursday, June 4, 2009

Design Explorations with Elmer's Glue and India Ink

This week I spent time playing with Elmer's glue and india ink. The ink and the glue react to create an interesting crackle effect. I read about this technique in the book Design by Accident, by James F. O'Brien. I tried both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques, all on watercolor paper. First I applied the glue and let it dry. Once dry, I brushed on india ink. It doesn't seem to do much at first, but as it sits, the glue resists the ink and a crackle pattern is formed. The way the glue is applied to the paper will determine the final pattern. Straight lines vs curved lines, bristle brush vs foam brush, fingers or sponges vs brushes - all will create a different effect. Then I scanned each image and manipulated it to create additional patterns. See some of my results below.

The second technique I tried was to brush on the india ink while the glue was still wet. This seems to result in a greater crackling pattern, although it is harder to get a pure black and white image. The ink tends to mix with the glue to make gray in spots. Below are some of the results from the wet-on-wet experiments.

I'm having fun with these explorations, but now I have so many images, it's a bit overwhelming! Next week I plan to take some time and cull through them to see what might work for my next series.


  1. Hi,

    Great prints! Can I ask what you used to apply the glue in the 4th and 5th pictures of the wet-on-dry series? I love the pattern and am trying to replicate it on a piece of furniture!

  2. Thanks, I used a flat natural bristle brush - I think I used a 2" brush for the 4th picture and a 1" brush for the 5th picture. Good luck with your project!


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