A little bit of arty fun to share with the kids and get them playing outside and sharing their creations.
- 1 bag Clean unpolished rocks
- 1 pack Permanent markers or acrylic paints
- 1 bottle or can Polyurethane weather-proof varnish or sealer
- Mouths of Mums - Painted Rocks
Around February last year, a new craze of sharing creativity and positivity took off in Perth. Families all over the state are painting rocks to hide in parks and public spaces for other children to find. Think geocaching or Pokémon Go, but with colourful rocks.
The movement began in Western Australia with Facebook group NOR Rocks (North of the River Rocks), set up by Perth mother Connie Sirmans. The idea was inspired by other groups from around the globe, with the first group to begin painting and sharing rocks starting in Port Angeles, Washington USA. The trend soon spread throughout the United States and New Zealand, and now to Australia. NOR Rocks was the first group of its kind in Western Australia, the second in Australia as a whole, with the first group being Gungahlin Rocks in the ACT. NOR Rocks has since inspired other Perth rock painting groups such as SOR Rocks, WA Rocks (formerly Byford Rocks) and Ellenbrook Rocks.
Similarly, the Pinjarra Rocks group was inspired when a young girl named Dakota heard about people sharing painted rocks from her aunt who lives in Oakleaf, Florida, USA. Dakota loved the idea and immediately began painting rocks to share with others in her community, and so Pinjarra Rocks was created.
If you're looking to get involved in this tech-free hobby, it's pretty simple. Start with some unpolished river stones like you may find at your local garden centre. Light coloured stones tend to work best so the colours will really pop! Avoid using polished rocks as paints and sealers won't adhere and your artwork will peel.
Before painting, your rocks will need to be rinsed and dried to remove any dust.
When it comes to decorating, that's where the fun begins. For best results, you can use acrylic paints or permanent markers to create a design. These can be found at any craft shop or even Kmart. Alternatively, nail polish works well too and comes in a range of bright colours. I've also found success in using colourising glues such as those found at Kmart, and more recently branched out and begun painting with Posca pens. However these are a bit more pricy and I wouldn’t let my 3.5 year old loose with these!
If you're a member of a local rock group, now is a good time to add a Facebook logo with the name of your Facebook group to the reverse side of your rock. That way when it's found, the finder will know how to contact your group and advise of its fate: did the rock get rehidden there or in another park? Or did someone fall in love and take it home?
When everything is dry, seal your design with a polyurethane-based varnish or a spray-on weather-proof sealer. These can be found in craft stores, or at retailers such as Bunnings or Spotlight.
An alternative idea, if you're wanting to help toddlers or preschoolers who may not have the patience to paint for long, is using glossy stickers makes a great alternative. Seal the stickers on with a layer or two of PVA glue, similar to decoupage, and then seal the lot with a polyurethane-based sealer or a spray-on sealer.
I don’t suggest sticking on decorative items such as gems or googly eyes or sequins as unfortunately we’ve found these items just don’t stay stuck on over time. Eventually they become litter in the park and couple be accidentally eaten by wildlife.
The benefits I'm seeing as the mum of a child interested in this craze is it's getting my daughter off the iPad and away from the tv for a while, and encouraging her to use her imagination. Little Miss enjoys painting or drawing on her rocks, as well as seeing what creations I can make.
I feel the rock painting craze is also teaching her to freely give something to her community, a gift to another child, without the expectation of getting a anything in return. Sometimes we are lucky enough to find other people's rocks when head to a park. Generally we take a photo and rehide them within the same park. Very few have made their way home with us, though Little Miss does have a stash of favourites out of what I've painted.
We have enjoyed sharing our rock creations and enjoyed meeting other "rockers" at the park when we've run into them whilst hiding or hunting.
Happy painting and happy hunting!
If you're based in Perth and would like to join a rock painting group near you, or want get some tips or just get some ideas, check out these Facebook groups and pages, or check Facebook for a group in your area.
NOR Rocks https://m.facebook.com/groups/NORRocks/
Geelong & Surf Coast Rocks