by Kit Davey
Versatile, beautiful and free. They're the ideal accessories for the thrifty home decorator. We're talking rocks here. Yes, rocks.
Try some of these rocky ideas:
* Build a table-top water fountain. Scrounge up a bowl, at least 10 inches wide and 5 inches deep. You'll need a submersible water pump to create the pleasant gurgling sound that makes these fountains so desirable. (Pumps are available in the garden section of Home Depot, at Cost Plus Nursery in Mountain View or from your local tropical fish store).
Place the pump in the center of your bowl, fill it with water and then start placing your rocks around the pump. You may want to mix in a few crystals, glass balls or marbles for additional color and texture.
* Prop your door open with a beach cobble or chunk of serpentine.
* Glue a rock onto the lid of a box for an unusual handle/knob.
* Invest in a rock polisher. Owning a polisher can provide years of fun and plenty of fodder for decorating projects. I filled a bowl with these shiny jewels and my guests can't help but run their hands through them. For an unusual table decoration, place a handful of stones in a cylindrical glass vase, fill with water and add several small floating candles.
* Arrange a selection of polished or natural pebbles in a natural-hued ceramic bowl and sit a stone Zuni fetish or onyx egg amongst the rocks. Display on your coffee table, vanity or dresser-top.
* Arrange stones by color on top of your toilet tank. I like to start with my red-toned rocks, moving into oranges, yellows, greens and blues. The rainbow effect is more pleasing than a jumble of color.
* Lay smooth stones in one color around the base of a potted house plant, completely covering the soil. (Try this with plants out on your deck or patio, too). For example, gray stones enhance the look of silver-leafed plants and burgundy-toned rocks work well with coleus.
* Hang a small shelf unit on your bathroom wall, by your back door or in your bedroom and on it arrange your most unusual rocks. Cluster your rocks in odd-numbered groupings, leaving spaces in between each group. Try resting a necklace of natural stone amongst the rocks. You may want to add in a few shells, leaves, feathers, moss-covered twigs or mini stone sculpture pieces.
* Make personalized paperweights. After selecting a smooth, flat stone, apply white dry transfer letters onto it. Seal it with a high-gloss varnish. A rock-shaped piece of felt glued to the bottom protects his desk top.
* A project I'm still collecting for: I plan to lay stones in a compass rose pattern out on my patio and set them in concrete (I still need enough rocks to fill out "South" and "Southwest"!).
* Create garden orbs. Purchase Styrofoam globes, used for making Christmas tree ornaments, at your local craft store. Using tile adhesive, adhere small rocks to the sphere, leaving an eighth to a quarter-inch of space between the pebbles. Let dry for two days. Follow the instructions on a box or bag of sanded tile grout (in the color of your choice) to fill in the gaps between the stones. The orb will look best if you use one color rock, rather than a wide variety. I made three orbs — small, medium and large — which I have moved from my front door, to my picnic table, to my coffee table and then to the floor by my arm chair. They're now in my bathroom and look striking next to my one-of-a-kind stone mosaic mirror.
Some people think they look weird, but then they just don't understand the true beauty of rocks, do they?