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Step six: DIY Stepping Stones for the Grandparents

To go along with our Snowman Ornaments we decided to send handmade stepping stones.  This is a great gift because we can continue to give one every year if we want to…or really any year that we can’t think of a great handmade gift from the grandkids.  Last year we gave these awesome bird baths to everyone and originally I was thinking we could do a birdhouse to go with it this year, but it just seemed too difficult to mail.  We’ll save that idea for when the grandparents actually make it out to visit us for the holidays…which means never, haha.  Don’t even get me started on that category.  Apparently roads only go one way…

But anyway, the stepping stones.  I did a search on Pinterest (obviously) for some ideas.  After going through numerous sites I found this one to be the most helpful.  There are specific instructions, tips for each step and tons and tons of example stones.  I highly recommend thoroughly reading the article if you’re looking to make one yourself!

I made my list of supplies:

  • Mold.  I purchased either an 8 or 9 inch circle mold from Hobby Lobby.  It was only $4 but it turned out to be the most expensive thing I purchased that day, so I was able to use a 40% off coupon for it.
  • Concrete.  After reading the tips on the above website I decided on a sand/concrete mixture.  Turned out Lowes didn’t sell it, so I had to hit up Home Depot for it.  And of course the smallest bag they had was 60 lb.  Which I would like to say that I pulled it off of the shelf, put it on the cart and pulled it out of the cart and into my car all on my own at 7 months pregnant.  I kick ass.  It was cheaper in the store, so it was actually only $4.
  • Marbles.  We have a ton of glass marbles that I was planning on using for this project, but it turned out they were too big for what I wanted to do.  So I ended up purchasing two bags of small ball marbles from Michaels.  Each at a separate time, so each at $3 with a 40% off coupon.
  • Green Gems.  After the original idea I had to decorate the stones looked like crap I had to go in a new direction.  So I picked up some “crushed glass with glitter” (except mine was green) from Hobby Lobby for $4, once again with a 40% off coupon.
  • Spray paint sealer.  I had a hard time deciding what to buy.  They had clay pot sealers, but that sounded like it was more to keep the soil and water in a pot.  Then there was a UV one, but it didn’t say anything about water.  So finally I went with Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear because it said it was moisture resistant.  I’ll let you know the results, haha!  It was around $10, minus yet another 40% off Michael’s coupon

And that’s it!  In total I spent about $18 for all 4 sets of grandparents (of course that doesn’t count shipping costs since 3/4 sets of grandparents are worthless…).  And the mold is still reusable and we have a ton of concrete and sealer leftover.  Now that’s how much we should be spending on Christmas!

I knew I wanted to put the kids’ handprints in there so it was just a matter of deciding on the design.  I didn’t want to do just plain handprints…I think that looks boring.  I thought we could put the handprints in a flower shape and then push different colored marbles in the impressions to make colorful flowers.  We did that with the first mold and it did not look good.  We just pitched that stone after it dried and went back to the drawing board.

I decided to try again with the flower idea, but this time painting the handprints instead of using marbles.  I used the green gems from Hobby Lobby for the stems and then wrote 2015 in the marble balls on the top.  They turned out much better.  And then since we used regular acrylic paint I picked up a can of sealer to hopefully keep it from fading/washing away.

So this is how we made the molds:

  1. Mix the concrete.  Hubby did this part.  He didn’t use any measurements, so each time he mixed it the consistency was completely different.  Two of the times he made it he had to get some paper towels to soak up some of the water because it was so liquidy that the handprints were just disappearing.  Now if this was me I would’ve measured the powder and the water the first time so I knew how much to use, but hey, to each their own!
  2. Add paint if coloring the stone.  I had half a jar of a sample size red paint that we used on the first (well, technically second) stone we made.  I really like the color of it and if I would’ve had more paint we would’ve colored the other ones too.  It adds to it nicely.  I wasn’t going to purchase paint specifically for this, though.
  3. Pour into the mold and let sit for 30-60 minutes.  Some of the watery ones we actually let sit for closer to two hours instead… diy-stepping-stone-5
  4. Handprints!  C had a blast with the handprints.  He laughed hysterically every time Hubby pushed his hands in.  It took two of us to get his–Hubby to hold his hands down and make sure he didn’t grab a handful of concrete and eat it (which is what he was trying to do) while I spun the mold in a circle to get the flower shape.  We did his first and then J had whatever room was left. diy-stepping-stone-4 diy-stepping-stone-2 diy-stepping-stone-3
  5. Decorate.  After Hubby took C away (usually straight into the bathtub) J and I pushed in the marbles.  The gems looked nice but since they were so small quite a few of them didn’t get pushed in enough and fell out after it finished drying.  Fortunately we used so many of them that you couldn’t tell some had disappeared.  We used the green gems for the stem/leaves and for “grass” along the bottom.  We pushed the red and blue balls in the top to form 2015. diy-stepping-stone-1
  6. Let it sit for at least 3 days. diy-stepping-stone-9
  7. Take it out.  The concrete slipped right out of the mold! diy-stepping-stone-10
  8. Paint!  I painted C’s handprints and J did hers. diy-stepping-stone-11
  9. Let dry for 24 hours.  Then Hubby sprayed it with the sealer.  At this point we were a little short on time so he actually sprayed all of them at once.  3 hours later we wrapped them in bubble wrap and loaded them into the flat rate Priority boxes to be shipped the next day.  They arrived Christmas Eve…was that great timing or what?!  Although they definitely should’ve aired out a little longer before being packed away.  They sat in my car in the boxes overnight and when I got in to drive to the post office I think I got a little high during the 3 minute drive.  That stuff was strong!

And that’s it!  I think they turned out pretty cute.  We made 5 total:  four for the grandparents and one for ourselves.  diy-stepping-stone-8diy-stepping-stone-6 diy-stepping-stone-7 The top one is the first one we made, as I’m sure you can tell.  That was before I purchased the smaller beads for the year and decided to stick with the green gems for the stem as well as the grass.  It’s also the one we poured the red paint into, so at least that part turned out well!

I don’t have a picture of the fourth one we made, for my parents, because they came down to visit us for the holidays so I didn’t have to ship theirs.  Which meant we just barely finished it in time and I didn’t even think about snapping a quick photo beforehand.

Hubby’s dad said “Oh that’s too nice for people to step on; I think I’m going to build something to display it on the porch!”, which I thought was pretty neat.  And then he followed that up by asking “Are those the grandkids’ handprints on there?”  No, Gary, they’re the kids down the street.  Sigh.

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