"Guttenberg Rocks" promote kindness

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The Guttenberg Library Foundation is sponsoring a "Guttenberg Rocks" summer challenge. Community members of all ages are invited to paint and embellish rocks with uplifting, hopeful messages and disperse them in appropriate places throughout Guttenberg. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Guttenberg Library Foundation is sponsoring a "Guttenberg Rocks" summer program, modeled after  the "Kindness Rock Project" originally initiated by Megan Murphy on Cape Cod in 2015. The viral trend, where individuals, commonly children, paint pebbles or stones and leave them for others to find and collect has spread to other countries all over the world.  

"Have you ever stumbled upon a colorful, hand-painted rock that has been painted in bright colors or has an uplifting message written on it?" asks Sue Leonhart, Library Foundation member. "Whether you are an artist who is looking for a new art project, or someone who wants to sprinkle positivity and hope around your community – rock painting might be for you." 

Adults and children of all ages are welcome to participate in the foundation's challenge. Direction sheets are available at the Guttenberg Public Library's circulation desk or online at https://www.guttenberg.lib.ia.us, or the Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce office located at 603 South River Park Drive. 

Why rocks?

The Library Foundation contributes yearly to the summer reading program for children, young adults and adult programing. "No one knows what the timeline will be for libraries to safely open their buildings and resume 'normal programing'," said Leonhart. "The Guttenberg Library Foundation is dedicated to the support of our library and our community. The rock painting activity worked in well with the 2021 Summer Library Program slogan, 'Reading Colors Your World,' and the Umbrella Arts sculpture contest theme, 'Choose Hope.' The Foundation's purpose for this project is simply to cultivate connections within our community, to promote positivity, hope and lift others up through simple acts of kindness."

The supportive group is hopeful that "Guttenberg Rocks" will inspire creativity in all ages and encourage people to explore the beautiful community they live in.

Hide and seek 

The following are a few simple suggestions to follow when hiding rocks: 

Be mindful of the environment and respectful of the community guidelines that already exist. 

Don't hide or search on private property. Respect property lines. Keep your searching and hiding in public locations.

Popular hiding spots include parks, playgrounds and family-friendly hiking trails. Be sure the rocks aren't where someone will trip over them.

Place your rocks in open spaces, not in places that will disturb nature or ruin a lawn mower. 

Don’t place them anywhere too high that they may fall on someone. 

Downtown areas offer many places rocks can be hidden. Take a walk on the main streets downtown and look for places out in the open. If you’re hiding them around the outside of stores, get permission.

Be safe and considerate about where you are hiding rocks. They are meant to bring joy. 

What should you do when you find a rock? The following suggestions will help you decide. 

You can keep your rock or hide it in another location.

Tell friends, family, and neighbors about your rock painting adventures and invite them to join the fun.

Spread the joy! Consider painting and hiding more rocks. It's a lot of fun for kids of all ages – from toddlers to seniors!

Take a photo and share it with the Guttenberg Public Library. They may post it on their Facebook page.

Spread kindness – have fun!

The following directions will help you get started: 


Rock - smooth and flat is best

Acrylic outdoor paint

Mod Podge Outdoor or outdoor clear spray sealant 

Paint pens/Sharpie pens

Stencils (optional)



Water basin


1. Pick a smooth, flat rock. You can decorate any rock, but it’s harder to decorate ones with ridges. If you can’t find them in nature, the craft stores sell them as do home improvement centers.

2. Wash the rock with soap and water and allow it to dry in the sun or on a towel on your counter before decorating it. Dirt can mess up your designs.

3. Once the rock is dry, paint the top with a base coat of acrylic paint—pick any color you like. Wait for it to dry. This helps so that the rock, which is porous, doesn’t use up your pens/markers. Another option is to prime with white paint to help the colors that you paint on top appear more vibrant.

4. When the base coat is dry, add a fun design using a fine or extra-fine tip acrylic paint pen, Sharpie pen or a small paintbrush. You can write a positive note like, "Be Happy" along with the design. Just make sure to let it fully dry between layers.  

5. If you don't have paint or don't have the time to do a base coat, feel free to write a positive message directly on the rock itself."

6. Allow the design to dry completely (for best results, dry overnight).

7. Seal the rock to protect your design. This can be done with a coat (or two or three) of Mod Podge Outdoor (or two or three) light coats of clear spray sealant. Don’t forget the bottom of the rock. This will help protect your beautiful painted rock from the elements.  

“Pinterest and Facebook are great places to find inspiration for colorful creations and creative messages,” shared Leonhart. “Never glue embellishments to rocks you plan on hiding. While they are beautiful, these additions are terrible for the environment and animals. Have fun!”

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