Important Update...

Visit: Your Spirit Rocks! on Facebook . Our vendors booth appears every other week the local Farmer's Market(s)

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Messing around with Resin

 I know, I know. Resin is toxic and it is advisable not to use this material without wearing latex gloves or wearing a mask. The fumes can be bad news and if the stuff gets on your hands and skin it can be tough to get off. I have used hand sanitizer as the go-to substance for this problem.

 That being said, I find that this is the best clear coat for anything like rocks and shells that you might want to make waterproof and shiny. It also makes the rocks practically indestructible ( which they already are pretty much ). After coating a rock or shell with the one-step UV resin I use by Decor Rom™, its put it under a large black light for around a minute then put it out in the sun for a few hours. Viola! a beautiful finish with a hard, clear coat appears.

   Casting resin is another issue entirely and can be said that unless you are adept at this process, I would take a pass unless you know someone who has worked with this medium and knows exactly what they are doing. 

    As a novice, the work I've produced so far has me glowing with pride. My hope is that this process will work for you too if you are a rock painter starting out. The other option, of course, is to use a product called Triple Thick™ which gives a nice clear coat that dries fast but will not really withstand the elements as well as resin. The other plus is that you can get a project done quickly and it will not yellow over time which can happen with the resin. 

The rock below is an example of something that just happened to come together pretty nicely. This of course is how it looks under UV light. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Still trying new stuff

 Gold puff paint has been my latest "Go to" medium of choice, especially on a dark background. It looks sort of regal when illustrating natural backgrounds like bullrushes emerging from a swamp. This provides a suitable setting for frogs, dragonflies, and concentric rings that often occur when dropping a pebble into a pond. These composed scenes remind me of what it is like to get out of town and venture off into different settings and find quiet, peaceful surroundings where surprising little critters abound.

Painting on panels of wood has provided me with a more preferable surface than the small canvases purchased at the dollar store. Although these aren't rocks, a small format invites one to experiment more than a large canvas which can be a bit intimidating. With time being of the essence, it's a bit easier to paint over a rock after some mishap, than sanding and painting over a mistake made on a large canvas. The rock, however, has many more opportunities for display than even a small canvas

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Passing it on

     It has been twelve years since I began selling rocks at craft fairs and farmer's markets. This continues to be wonderful odyssey. Over the years, an appreciation for acrylic paint and the absorbent surface of sandstone in began. Acrylic paint for the most part was unappealing to use for college art projects. The colors appeared flat and lifeless and dried too quickly. Oils, on the other hand, seemed more fluid and forgiving. 

    This has changed as the use of extenders and textures bring about more pleasing results. Metallic acrylic and phosphorescent puff paint have became the medium of choice. Then came interference acrylic. Then came resin and one-step craqule. The rest is history. As much as I enjoy sharing the value of these materials, it is better for budding artists to find this out for themselves. Art is about discovery after all.

    Sandstones called out to me because of their smoothness, flatness and symmetry and turned out to be the perfect canvases to paint on. The size was irrelevant because smaller stones could be made into pendants and larger stones became paper weights or door stops. 

    Taking it a step further, stones that could be held comfortably in the hand became meditation objects and talismans. This was when the idea of calling them Spirit Rocks came into being. Australian Aborigines have it that the spirit of their ancestors are returned to natural forms like trees and rocks.  

                                                                                            Certain rocks call to me.

They are timeless reminders of what went before. By all appearances, they don't change. Adorning them with color, texture, sparkle and a clear coat of resin brings these objects to life. It is difficult to release them. It is still my contention that the rocks will choose their keepers. It is an honor to learn that they have been gifted or passed along.... even hidden for others to find and enjoy. Below is this week's Rock of the week.

P.S. Notice the little QR code in the middle. Whoever scans it gets taken to this site. The plan is to hide more rocks with this sticker on it to bring more people to this blog site.                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Rockin' on...

Hi There! Welcome to " Your Spirit Rocks!™ " Not to be confused with the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Fairfax, CA. which is a beautiful place in Marin County founded by Jack Kornfield for the purpose of bringing Peace through quiet meditation.

 This blog is about rocks, painted and decorated to be used as meditation objects, talismans, place-holders, heirloom gifts, etc. It is my hope that these items will bring peace and joy to those that find them useful.

If this is your first time here, you have arrived at a time when Rock painting has really taken off. Ever since Covid struck, people have been looking for an activity that brings them much satisfaction in accomplishing something while they "Shelter in place". It sure beats watching the news on TV or stuffing your face with food.

If you have followed this blog, you will know that I have been doing this activity now for over 12 years. The moment that this become relevant to me was a short time after my employment had ended and my unemployment had run out. Now I have something that continues to unfold in new and exciting directions. 

Some will counter with, " Well, I'm not an artist so this would be pointless for me to get involved". This is exactly the point. Everyone creates from nothing. No thing is a thing. Just try it. What do you have to lose? a rock?

 Start by finding a rock that speaks to you ( figuratively, of course ) then get some acrylic paints and some small brushes and get to work. This activity fosters new ideas, even if you never paint another rock again. I can attest to the transformative properties of taking that first step.

I wish the same for you. Ideas are powerful but only when we put them into action. As the old saying goes, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" so take some time to convince yourself that you can do it, whatever it takes to get you started. Remember...

Your Spirit Rocks!


Thursday, June 9, 2022

Your Spirit Rocks (even under water)

     For a long time, I have warned kids not to put their Spirit Rock in the aquarium, especially if there are fish in it. Sometimes they will find a nice spot for one if the aquarium is not filled with water and are using it for plants or a little gnome village. I also sell these cute little mushroom rocks for that purpose.  

    In my last post, I mentioned that I have been using resin as a clear coat on my painted rocks. This type of clear coat has replaced an acrylic coat called " Triple Thick™" which dries quickly and leaves a lovely gloss finish. Unfortunately, it can be bad news for live fish. This clear coat can soften over time, whereas resin won't.
    Aside from its coating, sealing, and moisture-proofing qualities; the epoxy resin is completely safe and inert once cured - making it a perfect solution for aquatic areas. Waterproof or Marine-grade epoxy resin is widely used both in and around aquatic tanks by aquarium professionals as well as home hobbyists.
 Resin,  aside from being waterproof when dry can yellow over time. For this reason, I will use only dark colors or yellow for a base coat. Now if you have a rock garden, an aquarium, or even a fish bowl, this may be just the upgrade your painted rocks need. Naturally, this will look stunning (when activated) at night in the garden or on a sun deck. 

    Oh yea, did I mention that Your Spirit Rocks glow in the dark? ( you knew that ) Check the previous post to learn more about clear coating with resin or Triple Thick™

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Dog days and clear coating

     Usually, when we think of "Dog Days" it usually means those days where we are slogging our way through certain tasks and running at half speed... if even. These are to be expected from time to time. This has been one of those days. It has been challenging to keep up with the inventory and still produce commissioned pieces for those that want a personalized gift rock for someone special. 

    The decoupage work employed in making a rock like this involves a process. The first step is made by printing out a .jpg onto glossy, sticky-back photo paper and then cutting it to size to fit on a rock. An archival varnish is sprayed on top of the image to preserve the color and left to dry.

    Next, Clear coating the rock can be a bit troublesome if the viscous material seeps under the pasted image and bleeds through. The whole process has to begin again if this happens. Two types of coats can be used in the final preparation of the rock. One of those types is called Triple thick™, which is not bad for something that dries quickly. 

    Resin on the other hand is best but can be a rather touchy beast. Getting this type of coat to stay on the rock is one thing ( mask and latex gloves are essential here ). The other delicate feature is to prevent drip-over and air bubbles that can form after pouring the one-step resin used in this process. No mixing is required.

    After a brief stint under a large UV blacklight, the rock is then set to dry again outside. The finish looks fabulous if done right. The double-sided rock below is one such specimen. 

    The first side is of a daffodil, which was painted entirely by hand even though you don't see the template photo which was attached to the rock. The second pic is on the other side of the same rock featuring a lady and her pet dog. This was the side that gave me a lot of trouble. The resin, the clearcoat, the puff paint, it was all very messy until it finally passed inspection.     Phew!


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Saxophone Man

     I recently enjoyed a Zoom concert (if you will ) that my friend Gene hosted, which featured a mutual friend of ours named Phil who happens to play the Saxophone. He played some standards for us, and they were just beautiful. He has been an accomplished musician for years, playing both as a solo performer and with a combo called " The gentlemen of Jazz." He currently is living in Hawaii, and most of us knew him from the mainland, mostly here in northern California The audience hailed from many places throughout the U.S. and at the end of the recital, we all hung out for a while and eventually bid each other goodbye as we proceeded to log off.

    Afterward, with the creative juices flowing, an idea came to me as I went back to painting rocks. Given that the glow paint dries hard, it is not inconceivable to move the paint around to form a figure before it sets. Then I recalled Phil playing the saxophone. It took a while to push and pull the paint atop the rock with a skewer stick to fashion a semblance of someone playing the saxophone, but it could be done. The end result was what could be considered a cameo icon of a saxophone player… with musical notes included! Below is the final result.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Bling and Glow

The rocks you see below feature three of my best to date. I have used a high-grade phosphorescent paint, a one-step crackle finish, adornments ( i.e. flower of life hologram sticker ), and a final coat of resin on each rock. The showing is how they appear in regular light ( an incandescent bulb ), a UV blacklight ( a large Industrial strength studio lamp), and moderate darkness to show what the rocks look like when activated. To activate a rock only takes a few seconds, and depending on the quality of Phosphorescent Paint will determine the intensity of the glow and the length of time it will glow. 

Below is the link to this video as it appears on Meta™ ( Facebook )
You can hear it with music and special effects... enjoy !

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Pendants to Keychains

 It seems to me that the Keychains have become pretty popular as of late. It has come to my attention that kids like to hook them onto the zippers of their backpacks. Unlike the pendants, which people purchase to have something to wear that is light, colorful, and stylish. The pendants though have had a limited appeal. For a while, They have been ignored on my display table at the market. It still takes around the same time to produce both the keychains and the pendants. 

The solution I came up with was to turn the pendants into keychains. No problem. I just got some extra lanyard cord, beads, and ring loops to transform each rock creation. The glow, bling, and image appeal are still there. 

The resin casting has been a little tricky. Some resin will be set up quicker than other brands I've tried. The Industrial strength UV light will usually cause the resin to harden in less than two minutes. The resin I've experimented with lately works better if I place the rock outside in the sun.

The step I didn't mention is rock drilling. A diamond tip Dremel™ is perfect for making a hole even if it takes a while to drill through sandstone. Eventually, the bits will get chewed up if you don't place the rock on top of a wet sponge in a small bowl when drilling. Pushing the rock down to have the water covering the rock is the trick. It keeps the bit wet, causing less friction than trying to drill the thing raw. Below are some samples of the pendants I've turned into keychains.

The pendant shown below was transformed into a keychain without much effort. The design is from an early watercolor I had painted.