Introduction: Making "Forever" Hand Print Stones

About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

This instructable will demonstrate how to make permanent hand print stones with your kids, and whoever wants one. I refer to "permanent" because usually these are made with plaster of paris, which is good, but can't be displayed outside.  Also, this method allows you to use "fancy fonts" to give a more finished, artful project. Wouldn't it be fun to do one every few years, or even every year?  The stones can be displayed on patios, beside walkways, in the garden, around the pool, and so on. In this tutorial, I make "Andrew" and "Denise".

Step 1: Materials Needed

Making this a really simple project, one that anyone can do, essentially, was my challenge.To complete this project, I used the cardboard from cereal boxes. Letters and designs can be cut from the cardboard which is readily available.   Also, concrete mix is required. The usual craft tools like scissors, rulers, and mixing tools as well as "forms" for the molds.

Step 2: Print Out Names on the Cardboard

Using the word processor, I picked a font, Arial Black here, and typed in the names I was going to use, as well as the year, 2010.  These are printed and will be cut out later.

Step 3: Make Handprints by Using Dilute Acrylic Paint

The  age old method of children making handprints is used to make a pattern. I used acrylic paint, diluted as shown, but tempura paint can be used as well.

Step 4: Cut Out Name, Year and Hand Patterns

Now the name, hand patterns and year are cut out with scissors. A craft knife can be used as well, if you prefer. The cardboard is thick enough to make an imprint in the concrete, but not so thick that it is difficult to cut through.

Step 5: Place and Glue Pieces Into Pie Tins

Here, a piece of paper is "tacked" in the bottom of the pie pan using spray adhesive. Don't spray the entire paper, just in two or three spots. The letters and handprint are then arranged as desired. I like a more formal arrangement, but the letters can be placed in a random, not so "neat" manner. Please note: LETTERS ARE REVERSED WHEN GLUING ONTO PAPER IN FORM.  To check alignment, use a mirror as shown to read the names.

Step 6: Proceed to Mixing and Pouring Concrete

I use easy to find concrete pre mix.  Each mold will take two to three 14.5oz cans of mix. This mix can be colored or left plain and in my examples I have not added color. Prior to placing the concrete mixture in the molds, use an old paint brush to coat the inside of the molds with a very light coating of vegetable oil. This will allow for easy release when concrete is set. Pour the concrete over the letters and hand design in the pie pan molds, and shake gently in two directions, and tap the bottom of the mold with a rubber mallet or hammer. The object here is to insure that the concrete surrounds the letter and design forms and that there are no air bubbles trapped in the mix.

Step 7: De-Mold Completed Stones

Usually 24 hours of setting time is sufficient, but it doesn't hurt to let them go for two days. Depends on your patience tolerance, I suppose.  I have broken projects by trying to save time, so it really doesn't pay!

Step 8: Paint Stones to Your Liking

If stones are going to be displayed outside, which is most likely, a good primer is used (see image notes), and then the depressions left in the design are carefully colored in using exterior grade craft paints.  I used Patio paints here, but any good latex paint can be used. The stones are then sealed with 2 or more coats of poly urethane, and the project is complete. 

Step 9: Gallery of Round Stepping Stones

Other techniques can be used as well, the most used by me is using the hot wire machine to cut out styrofoam letters, embedding them, and using concrete colorants. Observe pictures for examples.

Dadcando Family Fun Contest

Participated in the
Dadcando Family Fun Contest