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beach rock art featuring rocks with words drawn on them for word stones

One of my favorite things to collect at the ocean is the flat little beach rocks (aka pebbles) to make word stones.

Many people paint beach rocks and then draw or paint their designs on them, but I prefer to keep them in their natural state – I love the earthy, organic look they make when they’re all together.

A collection of beach rocks in a black container in different shapes, sizes, and earthy colors that will be used for word stones

Here is a bowl of beach rocks that I recently gathered at Wright’s Beach in Sonoma County, CA. Don’t you just love the variations in the colors?

The smallest is the size of a dime, while the largest is around the size of a silver dollar. In the lower-left corner, you can see the thicknesses of the rocks.

Materials Needed for Word Stones

materials needed for word stones include beach rocks and white gel pens.

All you need to make word stones are small rocks and something to draw or paint your designs with.

If you want to use paint pens or alternative color gel pens, you can do that too.

The rocks I use for my word stones are all from the Pacific Ocean. I collect most of them from beaches in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

fronts and backs of word stones made from beach rocks with designs written on them

Each stone has been worn by the waves and is relatively thin for its size. They are approximately 1/8″ to 1/4″ wide, and come in various colors.

If you don’t live by the ocean, use small river rocks. You can also find pebbles or cobblestones in the landscaping or on trails. These are usually thicker and heavier but have a smooth round surface that works perfectly too.

For my collection of word stones used for this article, I used white gel pens and beach rocks. That’s it!

I use the white ball-point gel pens because I like the finer line against the raw stones. I first tried paint pens but the ink separated, leaving a gummy white residue on the rocks. After two tries with different brands, I switched to the gel pens. So far, they work great and give my collection a cohesive look.

Having tried at least six different white gel pens over the years, I now prefer these Uni-ball Signo white gel pens. They dry fast, don’t clog or blot, and are very affordable. I just purchased some more and got ten pens for under $15, which is a steal! Click here for a link to the pens.

Just use whatever you have on hand or what you can afford. There are SO many options available, so use your imagination.

Where to get the materials?

The easiest way to get beach rocks is obviously at the beach. But if you’re landlocked or unable to get there, you can find nice pebbles at the river, or there are plenty of people who will sell you some!

While I prefer free rocks from the beach and the river (and I’m sure you do too), if you need to, you can find vendors on ETSY, Amazon, and eBay.

How to make beach rock art

The first thing to do is wash the rocks. If you found your stones on the beach or even if you purchased them polished, you’ll notice there is usually a very fine powder or dust covering the rocks.

Simply soak them in water for a few minutes, swish them around in the water, then set them out in the sun to dry or use a towel. When they are 100% dry, they are ready to use.

drawing designs on beach rocks with a white gel pen for word stones

Using the white gel pen (or paint pen, permanent marker, or your instrument of choice), draw your design on the rock.

With the gel pens, I have to sometimes go over the line a couple of times, depending on how much ink is left in the pen. As you can see from the photo above, the lines are not precise, which is my preference as I like a more organic appearance.

Once your design has dried, flip the rock over and write your special word or phrase. Here are a few ideas:

word stones with on beach rocks words written on them

About the Rocks

I look for beach rocks that are thin and mostly flat. And I look for a variety of colors including reds, grays, greens, golds, and black.

It really depends on which beach you go to and when. There are times I go to the ocean and there is nothing but sand! But lately I’ve been luck and have found lots of great rock choices.

I’ve been told some beaches prohibit the removal of particular rocks, so if you can find someone to ask, do so!

If you want more information about beach rocks, check out Beach Stones Inspired. They share lots of beach crafts and photos.

More Options

Some people like a shiny or smoother look to their stones. If this is your preference, rub some cold wax medium on the surface. Let the wax soak into the stone for a few minutes, then wipe with a soft rag. You can also spray them with a spray fixative – just be sure to let the fixative dry before flipping the rocks over, and be sure to spray outside or in a well-ventalilated space.

word stone beach rocks that have been waxed with Gamblin cold wax medium. Shows tin of gamblin cold wax medium and ceramic bowl with word stones

I’ve seen beach rocks spray-painted with a color first, and the words and designs drawn with permanent markers. For this style, I would recommend using a fine-tipped Sharpie or a thin liner paintbrush with acrylic paints.

You can also use alphabet stamps and a stamp pad with permanent ink on a painted surface to mix things up even more.

What To Do With Word Stones

As you can see, there are lots of options when it comes to creating word stones on beach rocks. They make a quick and easy little gift to someone or look great in the garden to brighten up the flower beds.

I keep mine in small baskets around the home and use them like Angel cards. If I want to see my word of the day, I “draw” one out of the basket and keep that word in my mind for the rest of the day.

word stones and beach rocks with white gel pens in a little red riding hood vintage candy tin

Also, I keep a small tin with rocks and a pen and take them on vacation with me or when I go somewhere I’ll be waiting for awhile.

I recently had my care serviced and pulled out my stone kit while I waited. A nice young woman was seated nearby and watched as I drew. She had clearly had a rough day, so I asked her to take a couple of stones for herself. The stones she chose were “breathe” and “patience,” two words she clearly connected with at that time.

She hugged me and left. And I smiled, delighted that something so simple and easy to make could have that kind of effect on someone.

So you never know when a little something will make someone’s day, right? These word stones are so easy to make and are a sweet way to make someone remember you. They make great memories from your travels and will be excellent conversation starters.

Just use your imagination and enjoy the process! If you like this project, please pin it and share with your friends.

word stones in small greenish ceramic cup with seashells next to the cup

Looking for more fun projects to make at home? Try creating journals from ugly old paintings or make these energizing herbal bath salts!

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18 Comments

  1. I love these and how sweet that you were able to make someone’s day better like that :o) Pinned!

  2. Hi JJ, I’m visiting from the Funky Junk Interiors party where I noticed you shared your lovely handpainted word stones. They are beautiful! I collect heart-shaped rocks and you’ve given me the inspiration to add meaningful words to my collection so thank you for that. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Marie! I love that you collect heart-shaped rocks and would love to see what you make with them.

  3. I Love these! Both the words and designs are really beautiful, thanks for sharing your process!

    1. Thank you so much, Allyson – and many thanks for the kind comments!

    2. Thank you so much, Allyson!! I appreciate the feature and love your blog. I followed everything 🙂

  4. I also collect heart shaped rocks, I just have them laying on the ground all together, my aunt also collects them and has in bowl..

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kathy! I hope you and your aunt continue to find lots of wonderful heart rocks and grow your collection.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth!! I look forward to joining you at the next link party – I appreciate the invitation 🙂

  5. These are just stunning! I’ve seen them in decor boutiques but your collection of words and designs is just gorgeous. Featuring these when my link party opens. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Carol!! And I appreciate your sharing them on your blog – you rock 🙂

    1. It really is a fun project, Wendy – I hope your granddaughters enjoy it too!

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