Have you strolled around your neighborhood or by a local store lately and found colorful hand-painted rocks tucked in a tree knot or hiding between books at the library? Your delightful treasure might be part of the painted rocks craze that’s been taking off around the nation in recent years – including here in southeast Michigan.
Think of it as a much more crafty, original and, well, real spin on the Pokemon Go craze of 2016. If you’re intrigued – and wondering how to get your family involved – you’ve come to the right place.
And perhaps the best part? It’s inspired by something called The Kindness Rocks Project, an effort to counter all the bad news that can clog up our social media feeds with something a whole lot brighter. All with the help of most unlikely little thing – a rock.
How it got started
The project began with Megan Murphy, an empowerment coach from the Cape Cod area who lost her parents at a young age.
In times of struggle, she would often walk the beach looking for positive “signs.” According to the project’s website, these signs could be heart-shaped rocks or sea glass that she perceived as random inspiration – something that reminded her that things would work out.
On one of her walks, she realized maybe she wasn’t the only one that needed little boost. So she started painting inspirational message on stones and dropping them along the beach for others to find.
“It started as a hobby of one … when something amazing happened. I began receiving messages from strangers about how much the rock they found meant to them. So I stepped up my rock painting and added social media, a website and encouraged others to join me,” she explains on the project’s website.
Since then, folks as far away as Australia, Haiti and Germany have joined Murphy’s quest to spread positivity by painting rocks in any fun, creative or inspirational way and then hiding them in their communities for others to find and re-hide.
Finding the fun locally
St. Clair Shores Rocks kicked off around June 2017, says city council member and group founder Candice Rusie. “I was inspired by The Kindness Rocks Project and the idea of spreading a little positivity in the world.”
Rusie started with about 75 hand-painted rocks and hid them at the St. Clair Shores Public Library for kids to find as they were looking for books. In just over a month, her Facebook group garnered 1,300 likes and piles of reports from people coming together in search of the painted rocks.
“We get tons of cool stories of people that have just stumbled upon rocks with a message that they really needed,” Rusie says. “Kids are going around and hunting for rocks when they go for a walk in the park. Families do painting parties where they spend the afternoon painting rocks for strangers to find and go hunting for rocks together.”
Even better, it’s a totally free activity, apart from the art supplies you need, and you don’t need to be an artist to participate.
“There are no rules, except to keep it family-friendly,” Rusie says. “We have rocks being found by all ages.”
Get creatively involved
Flat rocks from a backyard, with the owner’s permission, or Mexican Beach Pebbles from a home improvement store work best, Rusie says. So far, cartoon characters, inspirational messages, ladybugs, Minions and emojis – especially the poop one – have been really popular, she adds, but folks have gotten even more creative.
“We have people who paint rocks for something that they are involved in, and we have people who add googly eyes or hair,” she says.
One woman even painted, numbered and hid 101 Dalmatian rocks.
“Paint anything you want and get creative,” Rusie says. “Craft acrylic paint works the best, and you need to add a clear sealer coat to keep it waterproof.”
Then, take them out into your community and hide them where people will find them. Just be sure to ask permission from business owners and keep them out of the paths of lawnmowers.
Finally, like a Facebook group page in your area and watch for someone to post that they’ve found your rock.
“I’m glad it has caught on here, Rusie says. “It’s a fun hobby and activity to get kids creating and sharing.”
This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly.