Why does Ella Dickson, 39, from St Albans, hide tiny works of art in her local library?
The reaction was amazing. A famous author even tweeted me!
You either know about it or you don’t. And if you’re a mum with children a certain age, you probably will!
The trend – where people paint on rocks, then post photos of them on a Facebook group before hiding them locally for others to find – had swept our town.
It’s a fun, creative hobby, and all the local kids were into it – discovering colourful rocks, posting them online and hiding them again. Or finding good stones to paint themselves.
My boys, Seth, 10, and Jonah, 7, were keen and I’d got the Beaver Scout group I ran involved, too.
In July this year,
I got them to paint patterns on rocks as a fun activity.
Watching them all concentrating made me a bit jealous and I wanted a go too!
I’d never really painted before, but as a fan of arts and crafts, I wanted something I could focus on and really take my time with.
So that August I bought some cheap acrylic paints from an art shop and grabbed some
smooth rocks from my garden.
‘Now I just need something to paint,’ I mumbled.
Then it hit me. I’d always loved reading, so why not copy some famous book covers?
I wanted something everyone would recognise, so I dug out my old copy of the first Harry Potter book and got stuck in.
I was copying the image, it was complex and intricate, but I loved every second.
As my gentle strokes coloured the deep red of the Hogwarts Express, I felt I was in a world of my own.
‘That’s brilliant,’ said my husband Andrew, 40, when I’d finally finished.
My sons were impressed, too! Harry Potter quite literally on a philosopher’s stone!
So I took a quick snap, uploaded it to the Facebook group and, once the stone had dried a few days later, I hid it near my local library.
The comments online were so encouraging.
I really want to find that! some wrote.
I was so pleased when a little girl discovered it and posted a pic online.
So I decided to recreate more classic book covers on rocks for locals to find.
I painted old favourites like Charlotte’s Web and Matilda, as well as more modern reads like Northern Lights and Mr Stink by David Walliams.
It’s important to give each painted rock a coat of clear varnish to protect the artwork and to stop any of the paint chemicals damaging the environment where it’s hidden. That’s why I never use glitter or googly eyes either.
The reaction was amazing, and Philip Pullman, the author of Northern Lights, even tweeted me himself! Gorgeous! he wrote.
I also painted one of my son’s favourite books, The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, as well as Andrew’s copy of The Hobbit – much to their delight. They were quite the hit, and I was happy to take requests. But though many have asked, I’d never dream of selling them. It’s just a game anybody can get involved in. And besides, free rocks are fun!
Our local librarians are now happy for me to hide my gems on their bookshelves for people to find.
And I hope it’ll encourage more people to read, get creative and, above all, support their local library. Because reading rocks!
Read all about it!
Brush job! I’ve got it covered
Little Neve found my Harry Potter stone