We’re in the throes of an unexpectedly lovely May holiday weekend, and have been living outdoors, sorting out sheds and pottering in the garden. I uncovered a stash of old tiles, leftover from bathroom and kitchen projects both here and at our last house. They looked too pretty to throw away, so I’ve repurposed them to make an outsized, organic version of Noughts and Crosses (or Tic Tac Toe). I used river pebbles which are smooth and tactile and call out to be stroked and handled, and the set can live outside in all weathers. If you have a couple of old tiles and a supply of pebbles (mine were from our local garden centre; £5/bag), then this is a very gratifying afternoon project…
- A large tile for the board; slate, granite or marble are ideal.
- Felt pads to back the tile (optional, but avoids scratching surfaces)
- Silver paint; I used Liquid Leaf. Varnish is optional.
- Masking tape and stencils
- Pebbles; choose similar sizes, as flat as possible to aid painting and reduce wobble on the board!
First, wash and dry the pebbles and decide on your design. I decided on stripes and a flower motif instead of noughts and crosses; I used masking tape freehand to mark the stripes on half of the stones, and then simply peeled it away again after brushing on the liquid silver…
For the ‘noughts’, I used mini cupcake stencils from a local baking shop, and lightly sprayed them with repositionable glue to hold them in place whilst I brushed the paint on. If you get any small runs or smudges, wait till the paint dries and then simply scratch away the excess with a knife blade; it’s gratifyingly easy to correct. You can varnish your stones to make them even more hardy; gloss varnish will change the colour of the stone, so have a practice on a spare stone to check that you like the effect first.
For the main board I chose a large grey floor tile and measured the gride for nine squares, and marked this in pencil. I used my masking tape to mark very thin grid lines and then simply painted these in the same way as the striped stones. You could make them thicker if you like (or even engrave them if you are a master with a Dremel tool (and thus far handier than I…).
Add felt pads to the back of your board (I used these felt coasters for ease, gluing them near the four corners), and place on a contrasting tile if you wish, or simply on a table top or patio.
I used two plank tiles to make platters for the sets of stones; these were wood-effect tiles leftover from the bathroom in our guestroom. Again, I added felt coasters underneath and then laid out the stones on each; they look rather beautiful..
And there you have it… a stylish and fun game to entertain the little people in your life, or simply to look good as the seasons finally turn and al fresco living becomes a reality. Roll on summer….