How-to: DIY Dragon Gold or Pirate Treasure

Spread the rocks across bare ground.
Spread the rocks across bare ground.

1. Collect a bunch of rocks. The first step is to collect a ton of rocks. You want rocks that are fairly large–big enough that just one will fill up a little kid’s hand nicely. Bigger rocks make for more impressive treasure, and you can get away with having fewer of them to paint.

You can find rocks sold in bulk at your local greenhouse, or if you live near a quarry (shout-out to Indiana limestone!), you can often buy scraps on the cheap.

2. Make some decisions about paint. There are three very different ways to complete this project:

  • You could spray paint your rocks gold. Spray paint will get the job done faster, both in actual painting time and in drying time, but it’s not an eco-friendly paint choice because of the aerosol used. You’ll also probably miss some spots, since you’ll be painting a lot of rocks at once. 
  • You could dip your rocks in gold paint. Dipping the rocks is still pretty efficient in painting time, but it will take forever for the rocks to dry, and you’ll have to have a place to lay them out, undisturbed, while they do so. You’ll also have to dip them twice for complete coverage, but when they’re *finally* done, they’ll look great.
  • You could paint your rocks gold with a paintbrush. I don’t recommend this method. It’ll take for freaking ever, and you’ll still probably miss some spots. Unless you want to have the kids paint the rocks themselves as a party activity, instead of hunting for them as a party game, I’d suggest giving one of the other methods a go.

I’m using spray paint, so that’s the method that you’ll see modeled here.

3. Spread the rocks around. Find a bare patch to spread the rocks out on. I’m using our driveway, because I’m a redneck and I don’t  mind having a gold-painted driveway, but if you’re fussy, you can cover the driveway with yesterday’s newspaper first.

DIY dragon's hoarde (4 of 5)4. Paint, stir, repeat. Cover the rocks with one thin coat of gold spray paint. They’ll dry in minutes, and when they do, stir them around (I used a push broom, but a hoe or snow shovel would also work) and paint them again.

After the second time that you do this, you’ll notice that you won’t need to spray every rock–most of the rocks will have a good coat of gold paint on at least two surfaces, so every time you stir them, you’ll simply give a quick spray to the rocks that need it, wait for those to dry, then stir and spray again.

You could do this forever, I suppose, but once most of the rocks appear to be completely gold, I think it’s fine to call it a day and let a few bare spots on a few rocks simply stay bare.

DIY dragon's hoarde (3 of 5)5. Enjoy your party! A few ways to use these gold-painted rocks:

  • Hide the rocks around the yard before the party starts, then have the kids hunt for them, just like an Easter egg hunt. This is what we’ll be doing at my daughter’s dragon-themed ninth birthday party.
  • Fill a treasure chest with gold rocks, then hide the chest and write a series of clues that must be solved to find the chest. We did this for my kiddo’s pirate-themed birthday party last year, and the kids LOVED it.

And after this dragon-themed party, any extra gold-painted rocks are going to live around the borders of my herb garden to make it look cute.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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