DIY String Art Tutorial

DIY String Art Tutorial

I'm sure that if you have ever been on Pinterest, you've seen some version of string art. 

I've already made two of these. 

A doe one, for Evelyn's Harry Potter inspired room.

And an AT-AT for Addie's Star Wars inspired room.

(No, our whole house isn't themed, lol).

So with Father's Day coming up, what better reason to make another one, and feature it here to show you all how I did it (and for me to make all the mistakes, so you don't have to!).

So here's a list of ALL the supplies I used (hopefully this will keep you from running around like a maniac every 2 minutes looking for something you forgot like I did).

Materials

  • Silhouette you would like to use, resized for your design - if you are searching for one online, using "silhouette" or "clipart" in your search might help! If you want, you can print a second design, even a little bit smaller (if the first doesn't fit on one page) to help you when whinding your string. 
  • Wood sign or wood backing. You can check out how I make my wood signs here.
  • Thread in color(s) for the image. I use a #10 crochet thread, similar to this.
  • #18 5/8in Wire Nails
  • Tape for holding design in place on wood. I used packing tape because I didn't prepare very well and it was the most available. It worked just fine, but you can also use painters tape to make removal easy. 

Tools

  • Good, sharp scissors. I didn't use very sharp scissors this time, as I was lazy in my prep, and left the edges of my string frayed and messy. 
  • Hammer
  • Needle nose pliers are optional but might be helpful in holding nails in difficult or tight positions. I didn't use them in this project, but did use them for the doe art I did for Evelyn's room.   

Alright, enough with all the material gathering (my least favorite part). Let's get to the making!

Don't stress at the lengthy explanation, there is a lot of information, but tons of useful stuff! Plus there is a video at the bottom to help with the general idea.

Place your printed design over the sign, and figure out your placement. I usually just eyeball this. Once it's in place, tape it down so it doesn't shift. 

Now you get to grab the hammer and those wire nails and start outlining your design. I start at the top, farthest away from me, and try to evenly work my way down both sides. If there is an area where there will be nails closely placed side by side (like the legs on mine) work from the side of your hammering hand, to your nail holding hand. Trust me on this one. 

You don't have to really drive those nails down. You want them to be stable and secure, but with enough space to wrap multiple threads around. 

Depending on the intricacy of your design, you might have some areas that you won't be able to space evenly. That's ok. To me, it is more important to get the right details in to help shape your image. Always try to place a nail at any sharp points or corners. Some details can be minimized too. If there is a small curve, like in the AT-AT legs, you can place a nail at each end of the curve, and one at the top, and call it good. 

Up close some of these areas look like a bit of a mess, but when viewed overall they help define the picture. 

If you absolutely hate the placement of a nail, take it out. These nails are small enough, and the outline will be overlapped with string, so chances of it being noticeable aren't very big. Just make sure it's along the outline, and not just out in the open somewhere as that might be more noticeable. 

Now you can remove the paper guide. Peel up the tape, and rip the paper to remove from nails. Try not to pull the paper up off the nails. I ended up pulling a few nails out trying to do this. Just pull the side, and rip from the edge towards the nails if you need to help it get started. This usually doesn't come off in one piece, so just take your time.

Once your nails are all in, you get to start stringing! Tie your string to one of the nails under the head. One knot should do it. You can either trim the end now or wait till you are done. Now start filling in. I usually outline my pieces first, by wrapping all the way around each nail. I do this in the video below. This piece, however, I ended up outlining at the end as well because I thought it needed more definition. I outlined the AT-AT in the same color thread and didn't outline the Doe, so this is all preference. If you do an outline, I suggest wrapping each nail and wrapping around the outer side. By this I mean bring your thread past the nail on the outer edge, and then bring it into the inside of the piece, and all the way back around the nail. If you watch the video below I show the direction I wrap in.

If you printed a second design, it can come in handy here. There was a point in outlining the cape on the right that I had to reference the image I printed to see how it should look. I also needed to do this with the AT-AT.

Once you've outlined or decided not to, you can start filling in. I do my pieces with a random filling pattern. I pass my string through the inside of the piece and wrap on a nail on the other side. Every couple of nails, I try to wrap my thread completely around a nail to help anchor it. As you can see in the video, the string can slip off your nails fairly often and can be frustrating. This helps prevent that. 

Try to wrap each nail a couple of times. 

You'll see me kind of trace my thread sometimes. This is me trying to fill in emptier spaces, and tracing to the nail I need to wrap it on to do so. 

You want your piece to be filled in somewhat evenly. Try to avoid stringing over the same path multiple times as this will bolden your thread in that area. 

Always stay within the outline of your piece. 

Step back from time to time to get an overall perspective. This can help show you where "holes" are or areas that are less defined. Just make sure you use tape or something heavy to hold your string tight so it doesn't unwrap. In the video, I set the head of my hammer over my string a few times when I need to stop. 

Once you are happy with the overall look, it's time to tie off your thread. I make a cut in the thread a few inches further than where I want to tie off. Don't be afraid to give yourself plenty of "tail" thread to work with. Tie a very loose knot in the thread around where you would like to tie off. Loop the knot over the nail, and holding the side that is part of the wrapped string tight, start to tighten your knot. You want to get it tight like the one we used to tie on, while still keeping all the wrapped string pulled tight. once you're tied off, you can trim your ends close to the nail. Just don't cut your knot!

And that's it! If you would like to add other colors, feel free to do so, or keep it a single color like my AT-AT and Doe. And don't be afraid to play around with it. If you are toying with an outline color, just wrap a few of the nails without tying it off, and see what you think. I originally planned on just a red lightsaber and black Vader and ended up outlining both with different colors. 

I've posted a video below to show how I wound mine. It's a little shaky, but still useful for showing my nail placement and thread winding pattern. Plus, you'll see me mess up a few times, so know you're not alone ;).

So, have you made any string art, or do you have any great ideas for one? Also, what are your favorite DIY Father's Day Gifts? Let me know in the comments below! Or, tag me in an Instagram post with @Peoniesandcream or #Peoniesandcream.

 

 

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