There’s nothing like being fully immersed in a craft project and making something with your own two hands. If you’ve never considered making string art, now is the time to start! It’s perfect for beginners since it’s almost impossible to mess up and requires no specialist skills, along with hardly any materials. Sounds like a win-win to us!
So how do you make string art? We’re here to show you everything you need to know to work on your very first design.
What Is String Art?
The clue is in the name with this one: String art is all about making pieces of art using string—specifically, string looped around nails on a wooden board. This type of artwork dates back to the 1800s, when it was used as a tool to teach children basic mathematics. String art as a decorative craft became popular in the 1960s and has been beloved by crafters and artists ever since.
String Art Patterns and Designs
For most beginners, the best string art designs to work on are geometric patterns like mandalas and infinity squares. The repetitive nature of this type of design helps you perfect your string art technique before you move on to more expressive patterns.
When you’re feeling confident, you can move on to more complicated designs like flowers, holiday decor, or even quotes. The possibilities are truly endless and, with only simple supplies required, you can practice string art over and over and push your creative skills to the limit.
Design Geometric Patterns With String
Create Your Own String Art Mandala
String Art Supplies
The first supply you’ll need is the string itself—either white or black for a monochromatic look or a few different colors.
For most beginners, yarn is a better choice than a thinner string (a number 3 or 4 weight should be fine). A knitting string that’s around 1mm thick also works. You’ll likely be handling the thread frequently as you learn the correct string art techniques, so a thicker yarn will stand up better against accidental breakages.
Once you have some practice, try out thinner threads to create more intricate designs.
Nails or Pins
Next, you’ll need some nails or pins to wrap your string around. Something fairly short is ideal (around ¾” to 1”) as you don’t want the nails to stick too far out the back of your board or be too tall at the front. Linoleum nails are usually the perfect size for string art projects.
A piece of wood will act as the canvas for your string art design. You can easily find solid blocks from hardware stores or pick up scraps and cutoffs from lumber yards. These work better than blocks that you can find in a craft store, as many of them are similar to an art canvas with a hollow middle at the back (not ideal for driving nails into).
If you’d like, you can stain the wood to match your decor or the look you’re going for.
Other Handy Tools
String, nails, and your wooden board are the supplies that you’ll need to replenish each time you create a new project. But to make your crafting time go more smoothly, you should also have the following on hand:
- A small hammer
- Jewelry pliers and scissors (in case you make a mistake)
- Your string art pattern on a piece of paper
How to Make String Art
Step 1: Outline Your Pattern
When you’re first learning how to make string art, the best place to begin is with a pre-printed design.
Take the paper design and lightly tape it to your wooden board. Gently tap your nails around the outer edges of the paper to form the outside lines of your design, spacing them as evenly as you can. Make sure they’re secure but they also stick out from the wood enough to give you room to work with.
If you have a pattern with an interior design, you’ll also want to mark these points out on your wooden board. But, unlike your outside edges, you don’t want to secure the nails all the way. Very lightly tap the nails around the interior lines, just enough so that they create a small hole in the wooden board. Once you have the design completely mapped out, you can then remove your paper design and tap the nails into the holes.
Step 2: Add String to the Outline
At this point, all of your nails should be on your wooden board, and it’s time to start working with your string. There are different techniques that you can use depending on the design that you have, but most beginners find that the easiest string art technique is to work on the outline first and then work inward to the “filling.”
Tie the end of your string to the first nail and leave a short tail to tie everything off once you’re finished. From here, start working your way around the outside nails by wrapping the string around each nail, pulling it taut, then moving on to the next one. When you get to corners or need to change direction, double-wrap the string around the nail for some added strength.
Step 3: Fill in Your Design
Once the outline is finished, there’s no specific technique to fill in the middle of your pattern. Some people like to go clockwise and back-and-forth until the center is filled, while others move in a more random way. If you’re about to run out of string, try to get back to your first nail so that you can start a new piece at the short tail that you left at the beginning.
Repeat your back-and-forth, left-to-right, or top-to-bottom approach until you’re happy with the fill level of your pattern.
Step 4: Tie Off the String
Tie off the ends at the first nail again when you’re finished and clip the tails so that the end is impossible to find. And that’s it! You have your very first piece of string art, finished and ready to hang on the wall.
Nail Your String Art Designs
Trying a new art or craft is one of the best ways to boost your creativity and discover different ways to explore your talents. String art is quick and simple to make, and it also looks impressive if you want to give something handmade to your friends or family. So next time you’re at the craft store, pick up a few supplies, and get started!
Learn Other Thread Art Techniques
Introduction to Needlepoint: Relax and Stitch