Upside Down Stepping Stones

I'm always looking for ways to preserve my kids' art. Their biggest masterpieces, that I know will crumble with time, I photograph to put in albums, but that's never as good as having the real deal — the thing they touched with their hands.

We decided our new garden (more on that later) will need some stepping stones, and while I know I could just go to the hardware store and pick some up, I thought there might be a more creative way to do it. We decided to pour them ourselves, and embed tiles and glass and other found treasures to make them our own. The directions are below, but there are many ways to do this project. For this method, you build the design on the bottom of the mold, and pour concrete on top. The result is a smoother surface, with your tiles more firmly anchored than if you press them into the top surface. I can't wait until they are installed in our garden.

UPSIDE DOWN STEPPING STONES

You will need:

• Molds for concrete. You can buy plastic ones at a craft store, or try using an old pan coated with Vaseline.

• Concrete mix. The fewer pebbles, the better, but standard concrete used for sidewalks will work. We used about 10 lbs. of concrete for an 11" square stepping stone.

• Water

• Wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing

• Putty knife or something for smoothing concrete

• Petroleum jelly

• Contact paper

• Glass, tile, beads, mirrors, buttons, anything somewhat flat to embed in concrete. For younger kids, avoid sharp edged objects.

1. Coat the bottom of your mold with petroleum jelly. This will hold the contact paper in place.

2. Cut a piece of contact paper slightly smaller than the mold. Peel the backing off and place it in the mold, sticky side up.

3. Arrange your glass, tile, etc. on the contact paper. Keep in mind that you are working in reverse, so your finished image will be flipped.

4. Once your design is complete, mix concrete according to the directions on the package.

5. Shovel concrete into the mold. Work out as many air bubbles as you can, and use a putty knife or flat edge to smooth the surface.

6. After the concrete sets, remove the mold and peel away the contact paper.