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Project Sheet

Make Your Own Rock Zoo

Start your own marble menagerie!

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Completion Time: 2 hours

Rainy days aren't the ideal occasion to visit the zoo. Most of the animals are smart enough to find shelter from the rain, so they aren't as inclined to show off for visitors. What rainy days are ideal for, of course, are art projects! With a few stones and some discounted art supplies from MisterArt.com, anyone can create their very own rock zoo to decorate a garden, front porch, or pet habitat! Rock paintings also make fun personalized gifts.

What you'll need

Before getting started, we'll need to collect a few supplies to help us turn ordinary stones into colorful decor:

Starting out

In order to create a menagerie of painted rocks, the first order of business is collecting some rocks! There's no one kind of rock that works the best with paint; try to find stones with unique shapes that remind you of a certain animal or that inspire you creatively. Smooth, round stones might make a good ladybug or hamburger. Craggier rocks might lend themselves better to dinosaur designs. Turn each rock over in your hands and let the creative juices flow!

So fresh and so clean

Once you've chosen a few rocks to paint, take them inside and scrub them well with soap and water. This will kill any germs lurking on the rocks' surfaces, making them safe to handle by everyone. It also eliminates dirt and grime that can cause paint to flake off over time. Once the stones are nice and clean, set them aside to dry for a bit.

Extra bases

Rocks come in all sorts of colors, but brighter colors typically show up a lot better on rocks if we apply a light basecoat of white paint to the stone's surface before beginning our design. On an ocean-themed rock, for example, we'll need to use lots of light blues and whites to mimic water. Applying a white basecoat first ensures that our colors will really pop.

Sketchy territory

Once the basecoat is dry, use a paintbrush or pencil to lightly sketch out a design on to the rock's surface. This will help us plan where the animal painting ends and where the rock or background begins.

To create our dolphin rock, we filled in the blue background first so that we could add wave details later.

How do you figure?

First, if you painted a background for your animal figure, let it dry. (Not all rock animals require a background, of course). To proceed, paint an animal figure on to your stone, using the natural contours of the rock to guide your brush. Paint on the dominant color first, such as the green in this lizard, and then go back later with other colors to add detail. When your painting is complete, set it aside to dry and begin painting another rock! Don't forget to add personal touches like signing your name on the bottom.

Pour it on

Once all of our rock paintings have dried, it's time to apply a sealant to protect our work from the elements. Outdoor Mod Podge is the perfect solution, because it acts as a sealer and glossy finish as well as a glue in case your animals would look better with some googly eyes or glitter. It's also non-toxic, making it safe for kids of all ages to use. Just brush on a nice coat of Mod Podge over your artwork and let it dry.

Zoology

Once everything is dry, it's time to build our zoo! We won't need cages-- these animals are friendly. Place the colorful rocks wherever you'd like to add a touch of color and whimsy, such as a garden, patio, kitchen, or classroom. You'll be able to visit with these animals even when it rains!

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