River Rocks

by Jimmie Lanley on March 20, 2010

Sprite and I have a new hobby.

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river rocks21

We are amassing a collection of river rocks. We spend hours on the shores of the river, washing rocks and evaluating their charms — an interesting shape, beautiful colors, a smooth texture.

Then we look through them one more time to make sure they are worth carrying all the way up the bank and back home.

When we get home, we wash them properly, allow them to dry and spray them with clear paint to make them look just like they look when wet. It’s such a simple hobby. We feel like we’re finding treasures for free on the ground. You just never know what the next rock will look like. It’s actually a popular hobby where we live, here along the Yangtze River. Some rocks are quite amazing and sell for equally amazing prices. Of course, we don’t look to get rich except in enjoying God’s creation among the river rocks.
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We both think that it’s a true gift to be able to get so much joy from such an ordinary thing — a rock.

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This rock below is one of my favorites. This spotted texture is called “grape stone” in Chinese. They are somewhat rare and rock collectors love them.

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We are trying to come up with ways to display our rocks so we can enjoy them frequently. Here is one idea:

river rocks candle

If you have other rock display ideas, please let me know. We are starting to get quite a collection.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

DebD March 20, 2010 at 6:51 pm

those are so beautiful. I wish I had some ideas for you, but I’m not that creative.
.-= DebD´s last blog ..Mama Barn Owl =-.


kristi March 20, 2010 at 7:43 pm

What a great hobby! The rocks are beautiful. What a great way to spend time together:)
.-= kristi´s last blog ..Recovering =-.


Cori March 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Oh how wonderful. My MIL and husband love rock collecting too. They polish them in a tumbler. My MIL loves the smooth rocks and keeps bowls of them around the house. She has some beautiful handmade wood bowls for them. She says the rocks are comforting and showed the kids how to rub the smooth flat side on their cheeks. It’s cute to see my 3 yo pick up a rock, close his eyes and rub it on his cheek. =)
.-= Cori´s last blog ..Science, Salamander and Sunshine =-.


Ticia March 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

paper weights? strewn across a shelf maybe with a few small glass figurines among them or something else small?
Of course all of my shelves end up covered in stuff I didn’t put away properly.
.-= Ticia´s last blog ..Geography: Texas lapbook, and introducing our new travels…. =-.


Kristen March 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

These are lovely. My kids would enjoy this too. You could fill some sort of clear glass container with some of your finds.
.-= Kristen´s last blog ..Jane Austen by Peter Leithart =-.


Phyllis March 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm

How beautiful they are! I love how you told us about the “grape stone.” Lovely. We gather shells and just hold them in clear glass jars. The boys take them out and look at them every once in awhile. I can see them in a little potted miniature garden with a bonsai tree or something similar, perhaps?
.-= Phyllis´s last blog ..The Lever =-.


Barb-Harmony Art Mom March 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

I love they way they look wet! I place a bunch in the bottom of clear vases, add water, and flowers and then enjoy the balance of the hard rocks with the soft flowers. It is a texture thing.

I also use them to decorate the dirt in my potted plants. I layer them over the dirt surrounding the plants and it looks so pretty. Outside it keeps the weeds down in the pots as well.

Loved this post.
.-= Barb-Harmony Art Mom´s last blog ..Finding Time for Nature Study, Art, Music, Poetry, and PE in High School =-.


Marsha March 21, 2010 at 2:04 am

I really like that reddish striped rock up there. It’s interesting how your eyes are drawn back to one particular object or color over and over again. That’s how I know if something will have staying power with me– be it clothes, a painting or even a plant. With all of those rocks to choose from, I imagine it would be difficult to narrow down, especially at the beginning of a hobby when are a little less discriminating than you would be further down the road. (that was a long sentence!)

I think a long brown rectangular box would make for a nice shallow display on a windowsill. (Assuming you have windowsills.)
.-= Marsha´s last blog ..Books, Reading and the Wimpy Kid =-.


Paula March 21, 2010 at 2:22 am

Did somebody already mention to make a rock-mosaic in plaster?
Here is what we did with shells:
That red rock is an eye-catcher!
Great post.


Kris March 21, 2010 at 4:58 am

Wow! What a beautiful collection. I love the orange and red one.
.-= Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers´s last blog ..Weekly Wrap-Up: The One Where the Dirty Dishes and Laundry Are Taking Over the House =-.


Wendy March 21, 2010 at 7:26 am

Those are beautiful!! And we also collect river rocks, but hadn’t thought to paint them with clear paint. What a great idea; they look so shiny and “new.”
The pictures are fantastic– that first one is my favorite!!
.-= Wendy @Sun-Kissed´s last blog ..Coffee, in all it’s glory =-.


Erna March 21, 2010 at 7:43 am

I love your rock collection! We love collecting rocks here but think it would be neat to add the element of our very own river rocks. Hmmmm! Thanks for sharing these with us!
.-= Erna´s last blog ..Where are My Lapbooks? =-.


Christie March 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

I love the reddish orange one two!! They are sooo gorgeous.


Kate March 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

What lovely rocks! Our whole family loves to search for beautiful rocks. Many of them end up in plastic containers but new and/or extra lovely finds end up on the shelf above my sink (gifts for Mom). I love the idea of painting them with clear paint. I can’t think of additional ways to display except maybe surrounding a potted plant or in a planter. Large ones could be artfully stacked in a basket. Extra large ones could become free weights.


Dawn March 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm

What a wonderful hobby. I never thought to spray them with clear paint. My kids like to collect pine cones and rocks. But, they are always trying to carry home heavy rocks.


Deedee March 22, 2010 at 7:49 am

Your hobby is beautiful! Our house is very dry, so I use pretty stones like these in large shallow bowls and then cover them with water. The water evaporates slowly, hydrating the air as it does. I can easily keep an eye on the water levels and top them up when I water my houseplants. They look nice and help keep the air healthier in my house at the same time!


Shellie R March 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Beautiful! Where did you get the clear spray?

We’ve got a similar hobby – well, the kids do. They bring in interesting rocks, leaves, pine cones and little sticks almost every day. They also have a collection of shells from our trips to the beach. We have a “Nature Bowl” at the front door where we ended up putting the shells and where each new nature find is deposited. I stuck a candle in the middle and it’s become a beautiful little centerpiece for our shoe cabinet. (Even though it’s spring, I cannot bear to take all of the pine cones out – it’s just too pretty!)


Jimmie March 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm

We get the clear spray paint at those hardware type stores. Not all of them have it.
I just go in and ask for tou1 ming2 you2 qi4. 🙂 (warning — tones could be wrong)


Pam March 23, 2010 at 12:38 am

Beautiful smooth rocks, and I love the candle idea at the end. Lovely nature and art combined. ps. thanks for your kind comment on my blog.


Michele March 23, 2010 at 10:49 am

Wow! Those rocks area amazing. My boys would flip to find rocks like that. We have rocks here but not like those. My boys bring home rocks from everywhere. I love the clear paint idea. Thanks.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Olde World Style Maps~Review =-.


Stefanie March 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm

So beautiful. I don’t have any ideas, I’m sooo not creative, but very cool.

I think my toddler would like to get in on that. She LOVES rocks. She carries them around. Hugs them, kisses them. LOL I’m going to try to find her some big ones so she can paint them.
.-= Stefanie´s last blog ..Muffin Tin Monday: Breakfast =-.


amy in peru March 23, 2010 at 11:28 pm

this is an excellent hobby! we do this too. good idea to spray paint them… I like them with the dry look, but my kids would probably REALLY like the ‘wet’ idea with certain ones!

amy in peru
.-= amy in peru´s last blog ..Do you haiku? =-.


Dana April 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Those rocks ARE beautiful. I see why people buy them. And, it is so neat that you can just go out and collect your own… for free! Oh, and I don’t think I knew that you lived by the Yangtze River until now. How neat!
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Monterey Bay Aquarium and Big Sur (Day 2) =-.


Cassie March 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

we’re doing a geology class with our homeschool coop & I came across your site.. lovely!

I have small rocks that I have collected from every major place I’ve been over the past 20 years… our honeymoon, my family farm, each vacation (usually several if we visited more than one place), my grandmother-in-law’s garden when she passed, etc. I write the place & date on the rocks, and if we are with someone special I ask them to sign it too. I have a large round, green ceramic dish full of them with a big glass vase in the middle for our beautiful betta fish!


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