As parents, it’s so wonderful to look back on how our family has grown through the years. One of our new summer (and beyond) traditions is making a stepping stone for our garden. This is one of my favorite summer-time crafts.
It all began when we were given a stepping stone craft kit shortly after our second child was born. That was a tough year for our family with 2 babies at home, but I was determined to have a precious memory of our first year as a family of 4 literally cemented in stone with a tiny footprint of each child. Much like that first year, the final result was a complete mess – and one of the memories that I can now cherish and grown on.
Since that first stepping stone, we’ve had much better results. It’s become an annual tradition and we’ve even been inspired to create a couple “extras” commemorating our first family trip to the beach with a seashell-themed version and in celebration of Valentines Day with a handprint heart.
After our first family trip to the beach last year, I wanted to try a beach-themed stepping stone complete with footprints, sand, and shells. It was an experiment, but I am pleased with the results over-all.
One thing I’d do differently… a harsh outline of hand and footprints just does not work in my opinion. I made the same mistake on our first stepping stone so how did I end up making it again? Sheesh. I love to make hand and footprints stand out by surrounding them with decorations (I especially love our heart-shaped version), but a sharp outline just makes them look big and weird. Lesson re-learned.
We did the footprints first, then sprinkled craft sand on top. We did bring a bit of sand and shells home, but opted to use them for an indoor project instead. Some sand did sink into the cement, but enough was left that it has that beach-y feel. The sand effect worked a little better in my head than it did in practice. Maybe with a bit less “help” and a but more focus, I could have pulled-off a thicker sand effect. I don’t think that more sand would allow for text, and I love to always include the year along with names or initials. The kids helped be place the shells and I made sure to push them in firmly after they picked the placement. It would have been bonus points had we done this project at the beach with legit sand and shells from our trip, but I love having this memory in the garden either way.
It’s happily at home with our flower, heart, butterfly, and first pitiful attempt at this project (which I actually now cherish, oddly enough). I was getting ready to make our next stone when I discovered that I had completely neglected to post this project from last year. With summer on the horizon and beach vacations in the future of many, I had to share. How beautiful is a garden path made out of hand and footprints? I keep them in order so we can literally step back in time.
With 5 of these stepping stones behind us and plans to make a 6th this month, here are tips for creating your own stepping stones:
- Use a kit with a simple shape, like a circle, that won’t be damaged easily.
- Save your mold and buy refill packs for future stones so they will all be the same size and shape.
- Do this project outside with papertowels and/or wipes on hand.
- Add water very slowly in a large bucket. 5-gallon paint buckets work great. If it’s too wet, you won’t have great results.
- Allow the cement to set up in the mold in a shady spot for about 30 minutes before adding handprints and/or decorations. This is a great time to clean-up your mixing bucket and to get decorations set-up.
- Spring for the letter stamping kit. The results are much better than trying to write in cement. We always add our family name, the year, and the kids’ names or initials.
- Press hands or feet in very hard to make and or footprints. They will fade a bit in the drying process.
- Use decorations around lettering, handprints, or footprints to make them stand out and to add interest. We like the broken mosaic glass packs, but there are many options. We even used tiny shells in our most recent stone.
- Move the mold as little as possible after decorating and leave it in a safe, shaded place for 24-48 hours before removing it from the mold. Don’t panic when water starts pooling in the design. Avoid the urge to mess with it!