I absolutely LOVE string art! You basically nail a bunch of tiny nails on a board and it just looks like a big old mess and then you wrap string around it and it’s AWESOME!
This “how to” blog post is not for people who are overly particular. It’s for the people who just want to try it and make something super cool and fun. If you don’t want to run around town trying to gather up all of the supplies, we offer completely customizable kits that come with everything you need! You can purchase them in our shop, www.createitkc.com/shop.
So, here it goes.
- #18 nails in 5/8″ or 3/4″
- A board (preferably something soft like pine) in any size
- String (I usually use embroidery floss, but have also used yarn for smaller children that need something a little beefier)
- A template if you want
You should probably pick your board first although you can also figure out your design first and then get a board in the correct size. I usually start with finding a board in the size that I want and then design my image around the size of the board, but whatever works for you. You can leave your board as is, sand and smooth out the corners and edges if you like, paint it, stain it or any other pre-treatment that makes you happy.
I am not the most artistic person (putting it lightly) so I like to use a template. I design something on the computer and then print it on regular copy paper. I like to print two copies and I will tell you why later. If you are just starting out, I would suggest something simple so that you can figure out the technique. Also think about what you are going to cover with string. If you do a heart in the middle of your board, you can cover the actual heart with the string or cover the rest of the board and leave the heart open.
Next, I lay one of the printouts on my board exactly where I want the design to be. Then I just hammer my nails around the edges of the design roughly 1/4″ apart. As far as placement of the nails, this is a personal preference kind of thing. The more nails, the more detailed your final project, but the longer it takes. I have tried using fewer nails, but I typically like the finished product more if I stop being lazy and use more nails. This is especially true if there are lots of curves. The more nails the prettier and more round-y your curves will be. It also depends on how dense and opaque (string covered) you want your project and who’s doing the project. For younger kids, I would suggest fatter string and fewer nails. The first project my mom did was a little more on the minimalist side and I absolutely love it, but then I did one that I used more nails and was able to fill it in quite a bit and I love that one too. So it really just depends on what you are going for. I also like to start on the right side and work towards the left and from the inside to the outside. I am right handed and I place and hold the nail with my left hand and hammer with my right. If I start on the left, my hand gets tangled up with the nails I’ve already placed. Also, when doing things like letters, I start with the inside of the letter and work out. Needle nose pliers also help with more intricate designs.
Ok, so once you have all of your nails in place it’s time to add the string. At this point, I tear off the paper that has my design template on it. It’s pretty impossible to tear the design paper off after you’ve added the string. So that done, make a loop in your string and place it over one of the nails then tie a knot. If possible, I like to leave about a 4″ tail and then work away from the knot and then back to it finishing in the same spot so I can tie off at the same spot and tie the beginning tail and ending tail together. You don’t have to though.
There are different techniques for wrapping your string. You can go in a very organized pattern like the heart photo or you can just go nuts and wrap like a crazy person. This is where it is handy to have printed out two copies of your design. For more intricate stuff, it can be very difficult to figure out what gets wrapped and what doesn’t. At least it does for me. So I like to have another printout of the design to help sort of guide me on my wrapping adventure.
Keep the string pretty taught and make sure the whole string gets wrapped around the nail. I sometimes find that my string has gotten split and only some of the individual threads made it around the nail. This will weaken your design. Once everything is covered, just tie off your string and trim the ends as close as you can. Using a tiny bit of glue will help keep the string from untying.
So that’s about the gist of it. Please feel free to post photos of your projects and let me know if you have any questions. And just a gentle reminder, you can purchase ready-to-go string art kits in our shop. They are completely customizable so you can pick your stain color, your string color, and more! We have some that are just string art and some that are string art and stencil projects. They come with everything you need including the board, the template, nails, wood stain, staining cloth, gloves, string, workspace covering plus step-by-step instructions!
Thanks so much and thanks for helping to make the world a little less mass-produced!