String Art DIY: Made Cheap + Simple

String Art DIY: Made Cheap + Simple

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Delaney Thornton

String art is a fun + adorable way to give a personalized gift, or to decorate your home, and especially your baby’s nursery. I’ve given three as gifts so far and everyone, not just the recipient, raved over how cute it was. People just love them. I know there are probably thousands of string art tutorials out there, but mine is being written from the broke + easily frustrated perspective. So, if you want to do a string art piece, don’t have much money, and don’t want your hair to turn grey during the process, you’ve come to the right place!

Tools You Need

What You Need

Okay, so my silly self forgot to photograph the stains + clear coat protectant that I use on the wood, but don’t worry, I’ll post a link to the ones I use. Yes, all of these products are from Amazon because Amazon Prime is my life. Being able to buy everything from one online store without actually having to go out… There isn’t anything better if you ask me. AND if you’re a prime member like me, you can get certain (most) items at a discount and FREE 2 DAY SHIPPING. Did I say free? 2 day shipping? Yeah, I did. Best thing ever.

Okay, here we go

  1. Wood – you can either buy a wooden plaque, (this link leads to a search rather than a product so you can choose from the many styles Amazon offers) or, if you plan on making quite a few, try purchasing wood from a local farmer or check facebook marketplace to see if anyone is selling any! I recommend pine, walnut, or poplar, oak is extremely hard to get nails into.
  2. Sandpaper – if the wood is too rough, but not necessary. Also linked to a search. I use three grain sizes for mine – 60 to start, then 100, then I finish with 120.
  3. Stains – Optional, but I always use this brand. A cheaper option would be craft paint which is what I used for this particular project. The link I posted for this one is a set of 18 from a brand I know, trust, and love, which is good if you plan on doing more crafts. If you only plan on doing one or a couple, then just head over to your local craft store, while you wait for the other stuff to come in, to buy a single bottle in the color you want to use.
  4. Clear-coat for stains or Mod Podge for paint to protect it. Still recommended even if you choose not to paint or stain, just to give more of a glossy, matte, or shiny look.
  5. A brush for the paint or stain. Also optional if you opt out of 3 + 4.
  6. Nails – I use 3/4 of an inch, but it also depends on the thickness of your wood. You don’t want the nails to be too long and you don’t want them to be too short, either.
  7. String – This is a bestseller and my personal fave! It comes with multiple skeins for each color. It’s definitely the biggest bang for your buck!
  8. Scissors – just in case you don’t already have these 😉
  9. A tack hammer – tack hammers are best for this because they have smaller heads, which will ultimately be better to fit in between all the small nails on the pattern.
  10. And finally, pliers – you will need these not only for holding the nail (because believe me, using your fingers is NOT a good idea) but also to pull out any unwanted or bent nails.
  11. Printer or just printer paper– to print the pattern, or you can just draw it on a piece of paper. There really should not be a reason to buy a printer just for this project, but if you want to start selling these or you need one for other things, I shared the printer I use with you. To print patterns, this also means you need printer paper + ink. You only need black ink for this.

Optional items: 2, 3, 4, 5, 11

Okay, now that you have all of the supplies, let’s get crackin’!

String Art DIY Step One


Step 1. The String Art Pattern

First, before the above picture, you need to take a piece of printer paper and line it up alongside the wood to see how big you have to make the pattern/ how many pieces of paper it should spread out over. This anchor one I made only needed one piece of paper, but the owl one that this tutorial is about, I used 4 sheets – 2 for the owls + 2 for the branches.

After you know how big your board is compared to the printer paper, go and print or draw your pattern accordingly. If you need to cut a pattern in half in order to spread it out over two sheets, then do that. Just make sure you crop the pattern in the same spot on both pages. You can use the scissors later to cut it so they line up (like I did with the branches).

Last, you line up the picture on the board where you want. I left space at the bottom to paint the baby’s name there, which you can see at the end of the tutorial. Make sure you plan for this before you print the image. If you want the pattern to take up the whole board, then you wouldn’t leave the space at the bottom.

This leads us to Step 2…

Step 2: Keeping the Pattern In Place

Okay this step is simple + quick. Use the pliers to nail just a few of the corners of each picture to ensure that the paper stays exactly where you want it. I put mine on the ears + feet of each owl, and that went through the branch, as well. All set! Now, on to step 3…

Step 3: Finish the Nailing Process

I know, I finished a foot before I took the picture… BUT this is what it will look like when you’re done… well, not exactly because I’m sure you’re not doing the same pattern as me. Either way, it’ll look like a jumbled mess.

Tips for the nailing process:

  1. Start with the smaller parts first, ex. the owls eyes, feet, + nose, because it’s hard to get the pliers in there when the bigger parts are already done.
  2. If you’re using oak, you have to be very careful + take your time because oak is the hardest wood and can easily bend the nails. Start with holding the nail with the thickest part of the pliers for better stabilization and then move down to the thinner part.
  3. If you want to avoid any rounded parts looking sharp, use more nails in that area. More nails = more detail.

Now step 4…

String Art DIY: Step 4

Step 4: Starting a Different Color or Part

This one is quick, too. When starting a new line of string, make a loop first set it around the nail, and then pull tight. This ensures that it won’t move + keeps it tight. It also allows you to keep the string going for as long as you like. Some people like less string + some like it more dense (less background showing). My preference lies somewhere in the middle of the two.

Tips for stringing: unlike with the nailing, you’ll want to start the bigger parts first, ex. the owls belly + fur, then the whites of the eyes, then the pupils, nose + feet. You want to do this because the smaller things will get buried under the bigger things. Also, the pupils belong on top of the white parts + the nose is always more forward than the eyes, so let’s make it look realistic 😉

Step 5…

String Art DIY: Step 5

Step 5: Outline Each Part Before Filling It In

Before you start doing the fun crisscross, all-over-the-place lines, you need to outline each part. If you don’t so this, each individual part of your pattern may look unrecognizable. We don’t want that. Could you imagine what the eye on the left would look like if it had no outline? Silly, that’s what.

Tips for finishing a line of string: when I pretty much get to the string density that I want, I cut the string about 3 inches from the last nail. I use the pliers to loop the end of the string (just like I do when I’m starting a new line) and then I keep stringing until the loop reaches a nail and the string is taut.

Repeat steps 4 + 5 until you’re done, and then WHOOP THERE IT IS

String Art DIY

UGH isn’t it just so cute? This one in particular was made for my friend’s baby; they both loved it so much. It makes all the hard work worth it. Once my shop is set up (soonish) I can start selling these, ya know, just in case you’re not cut out for all of this 😉 I will be writing about how to make the best baby shower gift baskets on a budget soon, so come back! Thank you for reading!






1 Comment

  1. How To Have The Best Baby Shower Gift on a Budget - Through Delaney's Lens

    August 20, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    […] shower. String art is one of my favorite things to make, and you can make one too with my tutorial here. I also like to hand make my cards, its cute and it saves money! If you don’t feel like […]

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