Create mini art with the Powertex Bister crackle technique

Creating mini art has been a great way for me to keep creating but in a manageable way and practice techniques. Bister crackle is a favourite and the organic patterns looked so good grouped together when they were done.

I’m using squares of watercolour paper but you could choose mini canvas boards or even pieces of wood. For beginners, I recommend a light coloured Powertex medium in Ivory and a darker Bister spray such as Brown, Black, Green or Red as it’s easy to see what’s happening.

Powertex mini art with Green bister displayed in a box frame

Bister crackle

The Bister crackle technique is very popular as it looks fantastic, requires only two products and results are quick! It’s not hard to do when you know how and is really effective if you love organic results. Let the Bister do it’s thing and you will have unique little pieces of art ready to display in a frame.

Powertex and green Bister mini art with crackle technique

A note about Bister

Powertex Bister is a non permanent ink available in ready mixed sprays and granules to use neat or mix yourself. If you’d like to know more about Bister, take a look at this free guide.

Powertex Bister sprays

How to make Bister crackle art

I’m using:

  • Ivory Powertex Universal Medium
  • Green ready mixed Bister spray (I also added a bit of Yellow afterwards!)
  • 2.5 inch squares of watercolour paper

Use pieces of heavy paper or card as your base and apply a thick but loose layer of Powertex medium to the surface. I usually apply with an old paintbrush or plastic palette knife. This technique will work on thinner layers but it can dry a bit too quick.

Then spray the surface with your Bister colour. Be sure to protect your work surface as Bister will stain! You can apply to a few small pieces at once but I found it best to work on just 3 or 4 at a time.

While this is all wet, use a hairdryer or heat gun on low to heat the surface of the Bister where you want crackle. This will dry the Bister faster than the Powertex below and the ink will split into crackles on the surface. The Ivory Powertex beneath will start to show through. Once the crackles start to appear be ready to pull the heat away. Overheating can blister the surface and sometimes dissipate the Bister altogether.

It may take a few hours for the Powertex to dry completely so leave them undisturbed for a while before adding any finishing touches. You can use Bister on a paintbrush or spray on extra after you’ve done the crackle.

Fix the colour with a spray varnish. You could brush on Easy Varnish if you have it although I find it blurs the Bister a bit because of the brush.

Green Bister mini art with crackle technique

Do you want more ways to use Bister in your art?

Try this technique with different colours of Bister and Powertex for different effects. Once you’ve discovered how to get the effect you can try it on different surfaces, art, crafts and sculpture. Anywhere you can use Powertex, you can apply this technique in small areas or on larger canvases or boards. Combine it with other Bister techniques and Powertex textures.

Thanks for reading, I hope you will give Bister crackle a try for yourself. New to Powertex products? Go here!

If you’d like to know more about how I use Powertex Bister and other Powertex products in my art, take a look at my tutorials in the Etsy shop. As a UK tutor I get my Bister and supplies from Powertex UK

Powertex Bister art "Begin"


Trish Batten · 12th November 2021 at 8:56 pm

This work is excellent-I ordered the books-but I couldn’t find all the products to buy? I am in the US-
Can hardly wait to get started!

    Kore · 12th November 2021 at 10:57 pm

    Hi Trish, Thanks for reading! If you are in the US I believe that the distributor is Regine at
    Hopefully she will be able to tell you how to get the supplies you are looking for.
    Have fun!

My favourite art supplies - Kore Sage | Mixed Media Artist · 21st December 2022 at 3:34 pm

[…] Bister pigments for muted and blendable colour. […]

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