Friday, November 20, 2009

Tim Holtz Rock Candy vs. Inkssentials Crackle Accents

Lots of people have asked what the difference is between Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint - Clear Rock Candy vs. Inkssentials Crackle Accents so I thought I'd share what I found as I compared the two side by side.

I decided to work with two images...images that most of us would use quite often...the first an ink-jet printed image on a normal weight copy/print paper. Everyday, nothing special just plain old paper. The second is a laser printed image on a glossy cardstock. This is the type of image you would get if you purchased collage sheets from various companies on-line or in kits.

I applied both products to each image, I'm not telling you just yet which side was which because I want you to look at the results w/o bias.

There are lots of photos of each image with different light variations and angles so here you go...

I'll tell you which side is which and my own personal findings about each below.

Image #1 -

Ink Jet Printer/Plain Copy Paper

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 001

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 004

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 009

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 010

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 011

Image #2

Laser Printed / Glossy Cardstock

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 002

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 006

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 006

Rock Candy vs Crackle Accents 007

NOW, what did you think?

Which side do you think is the Rock Candy

and which is the Crackle Accents???





The left side of both images is the Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint - Rock Candy, the right side is Inkssentials Crackle Accents!

Did you guess it right?

Now some of my observations...

Over - All Appearance

At first glance both products look similar ~ nice crackles over the entire surface.

When you look closer you will notice that the Rock Candy yields a wide variety of chip sizes while the Crackle Accents has a bit of variety, not nearly as much as the RC. I believe this is due to the fact that you can control the Rock Candy coverage a bit better than the Crackle Accents.

Why? - Well you actually paint on the Rock Candy and can control the depth of the material better thank you can with the Crackle Accents.

Crackle Accents is self-leveling which means it will basically over time even the coat/coverage out as it dries giving you an nice flat, glass like surface. This is perfect when you're making charms and pendants but not so cool if you want a bit of variation on your finished look.

Rock Candy on the other hand does smooth out a bit hiding some of the brush stroke lines but it doesn't level out to the point of being a flat finished surface. It retains the various high and low spots as it was applied. Now, of course if you apply it in a very even coat your results will reflect that.

A HUGE difference and something very important in my book is DRY TIME!! I let both products dry naturally (more on that below).

The Rock Candy started crackling within minutes. The majority of the RC was dry in 20 minutes, the higher, thicker areas were dry within the hour.

Crackle Accents takes MUCH longer to dry ~ It was 2 hours before I started getting cracks along the edges and I had to let it set over night for the thicker areas to completely dry. I would say at least a good 8-10 hours for it to dry completely.

Now I mentioned I let both dry naturally ~ the coolest thing about Rock Candy ~ you can actually speed the dry time with a heat gun!!! As soon as you notice the Rock Candy starting to crackle you can begin gently heating it. You could cut the total dry time down immensely by doing so.

I personally wouldn't heat the Crackle Accents with a heat will begin to bubble and create a huge cloudy mess ~ the longer you heat it, the more numerous the bubbles so instead of being clear it gives it a milky finish.


One issue that we all face with products like this is curling while it dries. You're not going to get away from this unless you adhere the image down to a very thick surface - wood, heavy duty chipboard, etc. If attached to a layer of cardstock or pattern paper for example it will curl those as well which is why I always let my image dry before I attach it to my project.

I think the Rock Candy curled a bit less than the Crackle Accents but it's the nature of the beast so you're never going to get rid of it completely.

Additional Observations...

There were a couple other things I noticed when I was using both products.

*First, Rock Candy flaked off a bit when I was flattening it out and attaching it to the blue cardstock. I kind of like that because it just adds to the distressed feel of the image.

When I tried to scrape additional bits off (to distress it more) the Rock Candy came away w/o damaging either image. The Crackle Accents came off very difficultly and tore away bits of the image so I wouldn't suggest it.

*Another thing I noticed was concerning coverage. If you've ever worked with Crackle Accents you know how very thick it is. It is very time consuming trying to squeeze enough of the product out to cover very large areas. I usually end up taking the cap off and pouring it out if I'm working on large projects. The Rock Candy on the other hand was very easy to's thin enough to glide over your project and cover the image quickly and completely.

*Finally cost...Rock Candy can be found most generally in the $3.00-5.00 range depending on where you purchase it. Crackle Accents on the other hand is usually $5.00-7.00 range.

So there you go...

I find that each product works great for specific uses~

Crackle Accents excellent for charms & pendants or small images while Distress Crackle Paint - Rock Candy works best on collage & stamped images, ephemera, collage & altered art projects of any size.

Hope this has helped to answer some of your questions about these two similar yet very different products!


  1. This was a really informative post! There was quite a difference in the two. I think the versatility of the product and the drying time is pretty important. It looks like they both have their benefits in certain areas. Thanks for the examples!!

  2. Quite informative, thanx for posting!

  3. I own both, so this was very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to compare.

  4. Thank you for this amazing review. Great to hear all the side by side comparison. I love the quick dry time of the rock candy.

  5. I find Rock Candy doesn't crackle to it's full potential unless it's left overnight, in fact I was diappointed with the product after all the hype . . there are better proucts out there-sorry! but kudos to you for doing a comparison and it's all a matter of taste.

  6. This is very interesting and very Imformative thanks for the post

  7. thank you so much for taking the time to do's really helpful...i just bought both and am now imformed

  8. Thank you, this post helped me so much.

  9. Thank you for this information. It was very helpful in my decision on which to get. I really appreciate the fact that you went thru all the trouble of showing us the difference between the 2 on different kind of images. TFS!!!!

  10. Thank you for taking your time in helping many crafters. This must have taken you some time...time you could have been creating. Well done:-)


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!