Introduction: How to Carve a Hot Air Balloon on a River Rock

Are you interested in carving something cool on a river rock?

I you are, this is the perfect Instructable for you!

Smooth river rock are super easy to find, and all you need to carve on them are a few simple tools that everyone has at home.


You will need to find a river rock with a nice and smooth surface. To find a river rock just go near a source of water like the beach or your local river and you will find one in seconds. If you don't have access to a source of water you can find one at local landscaping businesses or in a child's rock collection ;)

Once you have your rock you will need the following tools:

  • Nail or any pointy metal object
  • Some files
  • Sand paper
  • Brush

Step 1:

Once you have gathered a smooth river rock and gathered the tools, find a cool image or draw out what you want to carve. Then with the help of a pencil copy your design on the rock.

If this is your first time carving a rock, chose a simple design with lines that aren't too close to each other.

If you want to copy my design I put a picture of my inspiration and of my drawing, for you to copy.

Step 2:

Once you have copied your design on the river rock, grab your carving tool and start carving the out line of your design. You will need to carve at least a half of a millimeter deep in to your rock.

During the carving process I keep a file next to me so that I can sharpen my nail. The point of your nail will quite rapidly become dull, so to sharpen it up, file the end of your nail so that it is nice and sharp.

Step 3:

Once the outline of your design is carved start working on the main lines of your design.

Step 4:

You will notice that the pencil marks I originally drew were faded and almost erased. So before you start adding in the details of your design, I recommend redrawing with a pencil the lines.

Once you have redrawn your lines you can continue carving out the details on your river rock.

When carving out the details start with the bigger lines and finish with the small lines.

Step 5:

At this point you should have carved out all of the lines on your river rock.

Once everything carved you will mist likely have marks and scratches all around your design. If you have large marks on your rock from carving use a file to make them disappear, but if they are too big try to make them blend in with your design. Once the large marks are removed you will have scratches from the file and from the carving to remove. To make the scratches disappear take some sandpaper with a coarse grain and sand it everywhere.

Step 6:

Once you have removed most of the scratches, you can put your river rock in a rock tumbler (If you have one) or you can polish it by hand (I did it by hand and it is quite long !).

To polish your river rock fill up a bucket with hot, soapy water and clean away all the dust and from the rock. Use a brush to get into the crevices to remove all the dust and loose pieces from the carving. Then take a sandpaper with a smaller grain and sand your rock everywhere. As you are sanding reduce the grain and eventually moisten your sandpaper (be careful when moistening you paper not to make it fall apart). If you want a super polished rock you can sand it with ultra-fine sandpaper and even use a heavy fabric such a denim to make it super shinny.

You can coat the stones and gems with mineral oil or commercial rock polish to give them a nice finishing. If you apply a polish don't forget to allow your rock to dry.

Step 7:

I'm not sure if I was clear enough in explaining the steps, but I think the photos will help. Also if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask. Suggestions and corrections are appreciated. I hope you will enjoy making this Hot Air Balloon River Rock Carving.

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