by Nan Royce
HOWARD LAKE No doubt about it, Sue Tighe is an artist. An entire room in her home is filled with craft supplies of every imaginable type.
She’s doesn’t do anything half-way, either. For example, she doesn’t keep just a few kinds of embroidery floss on hand. She keeps them all on hand, boxed, organized, and ready to go. Same thing with paint brushes, sewing supplies, colored pencils, and many different kinds of paint. Also, there are now a lot of rocks for use in her latest endeavor, which she calls Howard Lake Rox.
Calling Howard Lake home
Tighe has lived in many places, such as Brooklyn Center, Oklahoma, and Germany, but for the past two decades, Howard Lake has been home.
She says a friend drove her past her current home 20 years ago. Once seeing the house and the town, she was sold. Her initial positive opinion has only strengthened during the ensuing years.
“This is my community,” she said. “This is our town. It’s a peaceful, quaint place to be, and that should be supported.”
So, about those rocks
The rocks piled on Tighe’s craft table are being designed to show off Howard Lake.
Howard Lake Rox is a simple concept designed to provide a fun activity for citizens and visitors, as well.
People may find and paint rocks and hide them for others to find. Anyone finding a rock may keep it, or leave it where they found it for someone else to discover.
Finders are encouraged to create and hide rocks of their own, so the supply doesn’t get depleted.
Tighe said it’s a fun way to get people outside, away from screens, and learning about places and people in their community.
The birth of Howard Lake Rox
Tighe began building the Howard Lake Rox concept by soliciting the help of her granddaughters, Angel, who is in first grade, and her little sister, Stassy.
The trio decided to call their project “Howard Lake Rox,” since the X in “Rox” is easier to paint than the S in “Rocks.”
Tighe and the girls then went outside and searched for rocks together, collecting whatever caught their eyes.
Tighe and her granddaughters like to study each rock and imagine what they see in its surface, shape, or pattern.
They’ve seen dinosaurs, puffins, flowers, eagles, lady bugs, and all sorts of other things in the rocks they have picked.
“It’s whatever you see,” Tighe commented. “It’s your vision, and you’re going to brighten someone’s day with it.”
Once the rocks are brought into the craft room, Tighe pencils the images she or the girls have envisioned onto the rock, so they don’t forget.
Next, she paints each rock totally white with acrylic paint.
After that, the rocks are painted into what they thought about when they first looked at it. The final crafting step is sealing the rock with clear coat spray paint.
Next, the rocks are hidden around town for people to find.
Anyone who finds a rock should take a photo of themselves with it, and post it to Tighe’s social media site. (See herald-journal.com for a link to Howard Lake Rox.)
Businesses on board
Tighe said she attended a Howard Lake Area Chamber of Commerce meeting and presented the Howard Lake Rox concept.
She has also been talking with local business owners with a unique advertising idea.
She indicated Howard Lake businesses could create rocks of their own. Business rocks may be painted with a small prize or discount offer that may be redeemed when the finder brings the rock back to the business.
“We want something so people spend some money in our nice little town,” she said.
So far, Tighe said Troubles Restaurant and Bar, Joe’s Sport Shop, and the Howard Lake Municipal Liquor Store are on board.
She also has painted rocks for the Howard Lake police and fire departments, and indicated when a rock finder returns painted rocks to those locations, they’re in for a surprise.
Tighe said those who find and return the police department rock may find themselves getting a ride in a squad car. She also said the return of the fire department rock could lead to a similar experience on one of the department’s fire trucks.
Playing by the rules
Tighe said the HL Rox game has very few rules. Safety is her primary concern. She doesn’t want hiders or searchers to go anywhere dangerous.
Additionally, she would prefer if people re-hide the rocks they find, or if they want to keep them, to replace them with other ones of their own design. Finally, she asked that people play the game respectfully.
“Please do not hide rocks in a cemetery or national park,” she said. “Don’t disrupt those pristine environments.”
Adding even more community value
Tighe has more ideas for getting the community involved with Howard Lake Rox.
She would like to start a group for families to paint rocks together. The family group would alternate weekly with another group of adults painting rocks, perhaps while enjoying a glass of wine.
“It’s another great way to communicate,” she said. “Let’s talk and paint together.”
Tighe also envisions starting a monthly birthday club at local elder care facilities, in which young painters and their families may bring specially painted rocks for each resident celebrating a birthday that month.
Tighe indicated that there are rocks hidden around Howard Lake presently, and more will show up, even during Minnesota’s coldest months.
“We will be doing some rocks for winter,” she assured. “They’ll be painted in bright colors that stand out against the snow.”
She encourages others to get into the game and get some painted rocks out there. She welcomes questions and tips from other rock painters on her social media site.
Rocking into the future
Tighe believes people will pick up the Howard Lake Rox idea and run with it.
“Someday I’d like to walk into Howard Lake Foods,” she said, “and hear people say, ‘Look at this rock I found!’ They don’t have to know I started it. I’d just like people and businesses to have fun with it.”
To contact Tighe for details or questions about Howard Lake Rox, CLICK HERE.