How to Turn Kids' Artwork Into Garden Stepping Stones
Bring a touch of whimsy to your yard or garden by transforming children’s drawings and painting into concrete stepping stones.
Don’t settle for boring stepping stones cranked out in a factory. Make your own. You’ll get to draw, play with sparkly glass and tile and mix wet concrete, which is a little like making mud pies. This is a good project to do with children because you can turn their drawings into a pathway of art in the garden. I’ve been making stepping stones with my kids every year since they were toddlers. Now they’re teens and we have enough of their handmade stepping stones for a broad walkway through the yard. It’s an honest-to-goodness memory lane of their art.
- stepping stone mold (These are available at craft supply stores. You can also use a plastic dishpans or old metal cake pans.)
- glass or ceramic tile
- mosaic cutters
- paper and pencil
- clear contact paper
- petroleum jelly
- concrete mix (We used Sakrete High-Strength. Use a fast setting variety if you’re impatient. You’ll need 10 to 15 pounds per stepping stone.)
- plastic bin for mixing concrete
- large spoon
- steel sheet (or chicken wire, cut into a square that will fit inside the mold)
- grout float
- tile sealer
Step 1: Create and Prep Design
Trace your child’s drawing or create a new drawing for your stepping stone on a sheet of paper. Place it in the bottom of the mold. Cut a sheet of the clear contact paper to the size of the mold and place it on top of the drawing, sticky side up. You’ll be able to see the drawing through the contact paper.
Tip: Your drawing will be in reverse on the finished stone. If your design includes letters or numbers, trace your design and flip it before putting in the mold.
Step 2: Cut Tiles
Use mosaic cutters to trim tile into small pieces to fill in your drawings. Place tiles face down on the drawing and push until they stick to the contact paper. Remember, you’re working in reverse, so you should see the backs of the tile as you work. Once your design is done, smear petroleum jelly on the walls of the mold to make it easier to remove the mold once the concrete is dry.
Tip: A border of tiles will act as a frame for your design, putting the focus on cute drawing and making the stone look more finished.
Step 3: Mix Concrete
Mix concrete according to package directions. You want it to be the consistency of thick cake batter.
Step 4: Carefully Place Concrete in Mold
Spoon concrete into the mold. We used an old kitchen spoon. Do not pour the concrete into the mold because you could displace your tile. Fill the mold halfway.
Step 5: Reinforce
Place the square of wire into the wet concrete and push gently. This will reinforce your stepping stone. Spoon more concrete into the mold atop the wire until the mold is full.
Step 6: Smooth Concrete
Use a tile float to smooth the concrete. Make the surface level so your stepping stone will lay flat on the ground. A catywampus stone could cause you to trip. Let the concrete dry overnight.
Step 7: Remove Mold
Gently flip the mold full of hardened concrete, and place it facedown on a flat surface. Take the mold off the stone.
Step 8: Pull off Paper
Carefully pull the contact paper from the stone. There’s your design! Use a steel brush to gently knock off any concrete that stuck to the face of the tiles. A butter knife used as a scraper works well too.
Step 9: Cure Another 24 Hours
Let the concrete dry for another 24 hours. Seal with tile sealer to make it waterproof. Put your stone in your yard, and voila, your garden has an eccentric touch. Now make lots more. You’ve got a path to lay.