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August 02, 2022 4 min read

Rock Painting Guidelines

When I was a child, I ordered a craft book from the mail order book club that circulated through the school every couple of months. We would pore over the catalogues and choose books to fit the budget we were allowed with great excitement. This book catalogue introduced me the wonders of spycraft and writing invisibly with lemon juice, the fabulous world of the independent and adventurous Pippi Longstocking and the joys of crochet in a little book I still have, and my daughter learned from 30 odd years later.  

The arrival of the books was a highlight of the school term and I remember most fondly a craft book that arrived just before the school holidays. One of the activities I took to with fervor and dedicated myself to that school break was rock painting. The book showed how to collect rocks and paint them into little ladybirds and flowers to use as paper weights. It encouraged choosing the rocks to find just the right shape for the creature to be depicted and showed how to prepare and paint then coat with a clear varnish. They made beautiful little gifts and I’m sure everyone in my circle of family and friends received one that Christmas.

So, I was overjoyed and very sentimental when I first heard of the rock painting craze being awakened about 5 years ago and just delighted by the movement that emerged where rocks are decorated with a picture or short message and hidden in public places for others to find, replace and re-hide. It was a beautiful thing and I embraced setting up tables on the footpath outside the toyshop one Saturday afternoon and painting rocks with a group of children and adults knowing they were going to be set off on a wonderful adventure. We tracked many of the rocks for some time on the local facebook page @mackayrocks

The movement came into its own when covid hit town, giving a real purpose and joy to crafty folks in lockdown. People leaving them as a surprise for others to find in parks or dropping them in the letterboxes of the elderly. We have had some wonderful workshops in the store for both children and adults under the guidance of our rock painting guru, Ros and very talented customers.

Rock Painting is based on very simple principles – Paint rocks in bright colours or interesting designs or with a simple message and hide them so that others can find them. The person finding the rock can take a photo of it and post it to the local facebook pages then replace it with one of their own or just take it and re-hide it somewhere else. Easy…however there are some guidelines that make for good Rock Painting practice.

  • You can use any rocks and it is fun for children to collect them as much as to paint them. If you are collecting rocks from natural places, be careful not to take large numbers from one spot so you don’t disturb the natural balance too much. Remember those rocks are some wee creature’s natural habitat!
  • If you are painting large quantities of rocks, it is better to purchase them from a local nursery supplier with a good reputation for sourcing their stock sustainably. Kasmiri Rocks or pebbles are a great choice for rock painting as they are smooth and require very little preparation.
  • After painting your rock, a clear coat can be sprayed on. The clear coat will protect your artwork and extend its life in the harsh weather outside.
  • We use Life of Colour paint pens to achieve fabulous results but any acrylic paint will make a fun activity for young children.
  • Rocks should be decorated with painted designs but do not use glitter or glue things like googly eyes and stickers to your rocks. These become dislodged and can become an issue for local wildlife as well as being a potential litter problem. They can also present a problem for young children who may swallow them! Eyes can be painted on and if you really want glitter, Life of Colour have a glitter paint range that has the effect without the actual glitter particles.
  • Rocks can be hidden in public places such as along footpaths, on top of fences, in local parks and playgrounds, and even in shopping centres and stores.
  • Rocks should not be hidden in national or state parks or on private property without the owner’s permission.
  • If you want to track your rock’s movement, paint the link to your local town’s facebook group on the back.
  • Let people know what the rock is all about by writing something like “keep or rehide” on the back so that people know they aren’t stealing and are welcome to take it.
  • Prepare young children before you go rock dropping so that they understand they will be gifting their creation to someone they don’t know.
  • It also is fine to allow children to keep a found rock that really appeals to them. Most will hold onto it for a while then regularly exchange it with a new, wonderful find. The cycle begins again, and the little rock will have given your child pleasure. Nothing wrong with that!

Enjoy this wonderful experience of creating to share and give within and between communities.