Gravel Art

by Kim on July 7, 2006

in Kids Crafts

gravelart.com
(image from gravelart.com)

This Ask Metafilter post led me to the glorious world of gravel art. I can’t find much information about it on the internet, but it’s a good bet that gravel art was a staple of the midcentury American (and possibly European?) living room. It evokes tiki bars, and split-level ranch houses. And for some reason the pieces usually come in pairs. I wonder if they were sold as completed works or as kits for the home crafter-cum-artiste, a la paint by number? You can see many examples of vintage gravel art on eBay.

eBay gravel art
(image from eBay)

Susanna Anna carries on the tradition today, offering kits and supplies for sale. (You may have caught her segment on the HGTV show That’s Clever). Everything about gravel art screams retro kitsch — I wonder what a modern take on it would look like?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mel July 7, 2006 at 10:27 pm

Wow, I did one of those from a kit when I was ten or so. It didn’t look nearly as good as those, though. (And it hung in my grandmother’s house for years and years – wonder what ever became of it?)

2 rowena___. July 7, 2006 at 11:33 pm

ooooooooooh, we had gravel art in our house when i was a kid! i remember watching mama make some, it seemed so grown up and chic! i love the argyle oil lamp.

3 Sooz July 7, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Oh thanks for this! I didn’t know it was called ‘gravel art’ – I recall an auntie of mine doing these in the seventies and would’ve loved to have had a go. I’ll be investigating further! :)

4 Becky July 8, 2006 at 12:30 am

I have a 1960s Monkey Wards catalog that features these. I can check to see if it was a kit or completed “art.” My guess is a kit because if I’m remembering correctly, they were on the same page as the raffia purses that you decorated yourself with beads, string, and sequins.

5 Dawn July 8, 2006 at 1:42 am

When I was in Chicago last, the House of Blues Hotel had art work from artist Pamela Rossen, aka “Glitter Girl” (http://www.jazzystuff.com/ggart.html) I think her work is somewhat of a “modern” take on gravel art.

6 Debbie July 8, 2006 at 11:20 am

Kits. My mom and I made some. Similar to the cats above, as I recall. And maybe a matador. Tres 60s.

7 Sydney July 8, 2006 at 10:34 pm

I made one of these as a kid. It came as a kit. I think I still have it somewhere.

8 Candlestring July 10, 2006 at 1:59 pm

I made one as a girl and it was exactly like paint-by-number. You glued on black yarn to outline the shapes and then filled in the spaces with rocks similar to aquarium gravel. I remember making Raggedy Ann.

9 Kelli November 10, 2006 at 3:21 am

My Grandmother had a beautiful one of a mother and child…I would love to have that one today……….

10 Aubergine In Texas August 19, 2008 at 12:49 pm

My grandmother and great aunt did these kits.

The brand that I remember is called Picturesque. They were not the only brand, but I think that they were the best, with the most Eames Era flair.

The kits used a black woven cord (i think related to oil cloth) on a woven fabric background mounted on masonite. A distinguising characteristic of the Picturesque brand was the pair of pictures with frame strips that ran down the sides of the vertical pieces.

I am currently trying to create a visual catalogue of the Picturesque pieces. It is very hard to find any information so far.
if you know anything please contact !akralia!@!gmail!.com! (remove the !s)

11 Rob Bergeron September 8, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Hi, Does anyone know where I can get gravel art kits and supplies? I’ve emailed Suzanna Anna and she has never emailed me back. She hasn’t offered kits or supplies for sometime now. Thanks, Rob

12 Rob Bergeron November 2, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Hi All, Still trying to find out if anyone knows were to find gravel art kits and supplies? I’ve done a few in the past and would really like to get into it as a hobby. Thanks

13 KayKay November 15, 2008 at 6:29 pm

I’ve been searching for a gravel art wall decor. I have several that my dad made in the 60′s. I found one at an estate sale, but they usually came in pairs or sets of designs. It’s a cat. So I’ve been looking for a catalog or some evidence of what the other cat should look like. I too want to get into this as a hobby. I found a website http://americanspecialtyglass.com/ that has colored glass in the right size. However, I have not ordered anything from them so I can’t recommend them. I’ve been tempted several times, but am not ready to tackle this as a new hobby yet. I got a kit and some extra rock in 2005 from SuZanna Anna and she responded to my email, but that was a while ago. If you order that rock – let me know how it is. Gook luck Rob.

14 aubergine in texas October 20, 2011 at 12:08 am

Heads up. please do not use the website in the above entry. rather please send corespondence to aubergineintexas!@!gmail.!com (remove the !) thanks!

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