How to Make Painted Rock Plant Markers
Painted Stone Garden Markers
How to Make Custom Painted Stone Garden Markers
A good friend who lives on the other end of the coast is anxiously awaiting Spring planting time. I, on the other hand, have already worked my soil, and have lettuces, kale, and tomatoes in the ground and growing. Since I'm done with most of my heavy work, I thought I'd make my friend some garden markers - an early Spring surprise while she waits for the real Spring to arrive.
I have an abundance of stones in my yard. The rains this year brought even more up to the surface of the soil, so I decided to make painted stone markers. I'd had success in the past using DecoArt Patio Paint on outdoor pottery, so I thought it would be a natural to use it on stone. For colors, I had in mind an "Easter egg" look - bright, cheerful colors. I chose Tuscan Red, Blue Jay, Citrus Green, Deep Buttercup, Sprout Green, and Pumpkin Orange.
To paint your rocks, you'll need the following supplies:
- Clean, palm-sized stones
- DecoArt Patio Paints (Outdoor paint)
- DecoArt DuraClear Gloss Varnish (Indoor/outdoor)
- Paint Markers (Black, and other colors if desired)
- Flat paintbrush (about 1/2" synthetic or foam)
- Paint palette or small plastic cups
- Gesso (optional)
- Dawn dish soap (optional, if your stones are dirty or greasy)
Priming the Stones
Painting the Stones
Step by Step Instructions
Once you have your supplies gathered, you're ready to begin.
1. Make sure your rocks are clean and dry. If needed, wash them with a little Dawn detergent. Dawn is a very mild degreaser, and will leave your stones squeaky clean. Rinse stones well and allow to dry completely in the sun.
2. You'll be painting only the "top", or front side, of each stone, in other words, you don't need to paint the "bottom", or underside, of the stone where they will rest on the soil. I recommend painting a primer or gesso coat onto the tops of each stone, but this is optional. If you do use gesso, allow it to dry completely before painting over it with color. Paint two coats of color paint, allowing each coat to dry well before doing the second coat.
3. With a black paint marker, write the names of your plants onto each stone. For my set, I wrote "Lovage", "Garlic", "Onion", "Pumpkin", "Soybeans", "Asparagus", "Mint", and "Artichoke". Don't worry if you don't have perfect handwriting.
4. If desired, add some flourishes or designs to each stone using paint markers. For example, I drew asparagus tops onto my Asparagus stone. If you can't draw, try a simple flourish or scribble.
5. Allow your painted stones to dry overnight.
6. The next day, apply two coats of DuraClear Gloss Varnish to each stone. You will want to paint the entire stone with varnish. Varnish the bottom (backside) of the stones first, then, when dry, varnish the top. Varnish helps to seal the painted stones from water damage and will help them to last longer. Allow stones to dry for at least 24 hours.
7. Set your stone garden markers in your garden and enjoy!
Handlettering on Stones
A Simple Flourish
Hand Lettering Tips
Using a paint marker is much easier than trying to hand-letter with a brush. I used Molotow paint markers, but you can use any good quality marker. Just be sure that it is a paint marker, not an ink marker. DecoColor acrylic paint markers are also very good, and are available at many craft supply stores.
Practice writing your plant names a few times before committing to writing on stone. A bit of practice will give you confidence, and confidence will show in your lettering. Block printing is easiest, but if you'd like to try something with a little flourish, I've included my hand-lettered alphabet here.
Simple Hand Lettering
It isn't easy to find "Lovage" plant markers at the garden center, but if you paint it yourself, you can have a marker for any plant you can think of. The bright pops of color offer a bit of whimsy to the garden, and, if you get tired of them, the stones can easily be painted over and repurposed. Expect your painted stone plant markers to last a season or two, maybe even longer if you take them up after the season is done and store them in your shed or garage.
I'm off to mail a box of rocks to my friend up North. I hope she enjoys her new plant markers as much as I enjoyed making them!