Florences New Craquelure Dashboard Tutorial (with pictures)

With Florence looking all pretty, I kept finding myself looking behind me when on a journey for a glimpse, the dashboard in front of me was disappointing in comparison and now completely out of place. The brown plastic faded from its years of sun exposure. Then an idea came to me, inspired from the decoupage technique, I had done this a few years prior on Christmas tree baubles. If you can create a tissue paper base, you now have something you can apply regular paints to. I decided to create a craquelure finish, like you would see on shabby chic wooden furniture.

Materials/Equipment List

-Mod Podge Matte - 473ml Pot

-Approx. 5 A2 sheets of white tissue paper

-Base Colour one coat emulsion paint - The colour of the cracks
 (I used 3 50ml tester pots of B&Q Colours Premium one coat matt dark chocolate)

-Rustoleum Crackle Base Coat

-Top colour emulsion paint
 (I used white Dulux silk bathroom paint)

-Top coat varnish NOT water based
 (I used Rustoleum crackle Top Coat, but this yellowed, so unless you like this, I recommend finding a non yellowing varnish)

-Soft Paintbrush


-Craft Knife/Stanley blade

-Damp cloth

-Cotton buds
 (for cleaning up in gaps where you don't want mod podge to be -vents etc.)

-Brush cleaner for varnish

1. Glue the tissue paper to the Dashboard using the Mod Podge

Remove any of the smaller parts you can from the dashboard, to make your job easier, many dashboard parts are designed to pop out or will unscrew. You can cover these separately and reattach them when finished.

The beauty of the craquelure affect is wrinkles in the tissue paper, actually enhance the final finish. On the larger areas I purposefully crumpled up the tissue paper, creating wrinkles.


Use the Mod Podge to glue the tissue paper down and apply a coat of Mod Podge on top, pressing down flat and gently brushing out any air bubbles. You will find it will wrap well around curves and corners, just use the brush and Mod Podge to guide it to where it needs to be. This is a fiddly job and the tissue paper will tear, you can simply patch up any holes with small pieces of tissue paper. The Mod Podge seals the tissue paper, so it is water proof and makes a base, which you can paint on. It is wise to have a damp cloth close by and cotton buds, the Mod Podge may drip and get into vents etc. where you don't want it to be, you can clean this up as you go. The Mod Podge dries fairly quickly, so I would wrap the paintbrush in the damp cloth when I needed a break.

Trim with a blade

A craft knife or Stanley blade is handy for trimming, I found it easier to trim really fiddly bits once it was dry, otherwise it is prone to tearing. On the smaller parts, which I had removed earlier, I simply glued a whole sheet over and once dry cut out the details with the blade.

Clean up the edges

Using a smaller paintbrush and some more Mod Podge, you can clean up any feathery edges created from cutting, just flatten them down with the Mod Podge.

Once you have covered the whole dash, check for any tears, or air bubbles that haven't adhered properly, if they have dried you can cut with a blade and use a small piece of tissue paper to patch it up.

Now go make yourself a well earned drink and rest those aching shoulders, this part of the process took me the best part of a day! The Mod Podge only takes 20 minutes to an hour to dry, I left mine overnight as I was knackered! lol

2. Apply the Base Coat of Emulsion Paint (The colour of the Cracks)

As I wanted a look of wooden furniture I used a Dark Chocolate Brown emulsion paint for my base coat. You can get creative and use any colours you wish! Emulsion paint is the required medium for the Rustoleum Crackle coat affect to work.

You have to paint the base coat in one direction, this will be the main direction of the cracks. I painted horizontally. There will be areas where it will be difficult to stick to the horizontal painting rule, so don't worry too much, it doesn't have a massive impact if you break this rule in certain areas for ease of painting.

I recommend one coat paint, saves you a lot of time! You need to cover all of your tissue paper with a coat of the base paint, don't worry if it is a little patchy, it is only the cracks in the end result, which will show this coat of paint. Allow to dry for the recommended re-coat time on the packaging. Mine was 2 hours.

At this point you start thinking to yourself "OMG this looks proper awful!", feel the fear and do it anyway lol. It is going to get better! 😉

3. Apply a coat of the Rustoleum Crackle Base

Once your base coat of emulsion is dry, it is time to apply a coat of the Crackle base medium. 

Painting in the same direction as your emulsion coat, so I painted this on horizontally. Apply a generous coat, have your damp cloth handy to catch drips, as this coat was quite messy and go back and chase any drips that form, smoothing them out with your paintbrush.

Allow this coat to dry for a minimum of 2 hours before applying the next coat of emulsion paint.

4. Apply top coat of emulsion

I used white silk bathroom paint for this, it has an anti mould formula and is good for places where there may be condensation, which to me made sense for a dashboard. Now I can offer you no science that says this is a good thing to use, It has a coat of varnish to be added yet, which may eliminate all the powers of the bathroom paint formula, but it made sense to me and I just so happened to already have half a can from an old paint job, so saved me buying more! Time will tell 😉

Apply a generous coat, in the opposite direction to how you applied the first two coats. So I painted this vertically.

The thicker coat gives more coverage, the crackle affect starts immediately and if you try to paint over again, it will tear the paint. The thicker coat provides thicker cracks, which I liked. I didn't mind the paint being a little patchy looking, it added to the overall shabby chic affect for me.

Allow the emulsion to dry for a good few hours. Because this has been applied thicker than you might apply it to a wall, it takes longer to dry than the recommended time on the tin. The corners take the longest to dry. I allowed mine to dry over night.

5. Apply the top coat of varnish

Once your emulsion top coat is completely dry, you need to protect the craquelure with a coat of varnish. It needs to be a NON water based varnish. I used Rustoleum Crackle Top Coat, as it seemed logical to use the product designed for the job. I have to say I was a little disappointed with it, as it yellowed. Mr Morgan says he likes the look and feels it makes the paint work look aged, which is appropriate for the style, I'm still getting used to it myself, it's a little too nicotine stained in appearance for my liking. But you live and learn and I pass this wisdom on to you, so you can make your own judgement! There are plenty of clear varnishes on the market, which state they are non yellowing formulas, these may well give a better final look. 

The Finished Result

Overall, yellowing varnish aside, I was really pleased, with the final result. Having spent some time with it since creating this dashboard, I think we may have benefited from using a darker shade of top coat. In bright sunshine, you do get glare from the white paint on the lower quarter of the windscreen, which can be annoying. A compromise for getting the aesthetic look we wanted! What do you think of it?

What do you think? Any Questions?