How to Do String Art

Three Parts:Prepping and Assembling Your MaterialsStarting Your DesignCreating a Pattern with String

String art is done by wrapping colored thread or embroidery floss around pins in a defined pattern. It's cheap, simple to do, and good for craft fans of all ages. It could be mathematically patterned and bring geometric patterns to life, or you could haphazardly light up your name or a basic picture with pieces of string woven in and out however you please – whatever method you choose to use, the result of this DIY project will be something intriguing and pleasing to the eye.

Part 1
Prepping and Assembling Your Materials

  1. Image titled Do String Art Step 1 preview
    Choose the materials you want to work with. When it comes to string art, you essentially need three things: string, nails, and some type of surface. Here are the details on all three:
    • String. The type you use depends on the look you want to create. Embroidery floss works well for more delicate pieces. Yarn and thicker strings work well for pieces that pack a punch.
    • Nails. Veneer pins work very well – they have small heads that let paper slide easily off (if you're using paper).[1] You could also use small, regular nails from the hardware store. Colored nails can be a nice touch, too, especially if you use more than one for the juxtaposition.
    • A surface. Canvas or wood are the basic options. However, do know that if you're using canvas, the nails will likely be wobbly and harder to work with. You can use plain wood, or you can use wood covered in felt or cloth.
  2. Image titled Do String Art Step 2 preview
    Choose how you're going to transfer your design. Here you have two basic options: a paper transfer or a stencil. Let's weigh the pros and cons:
    • For a paper transfer, you simply find an image or word you like on your computer, and print it to size. You'd place it on the board and put nails into the paper. When you're done, you need to take off the paper up and over the head of the nail. If the nails allow this, it's a good, simple, cheap option.
    • A stencil transfer is easier to work with. You simply put the nails in the holes of the stencil and remove the stencil when you're done (it comes right off). That being said, it is more expensive and you are limited to what stencils you can find at your local craft stores.
  3. Image titled Do String Art Step 3 preview
    Prep your board, if necessary. If you're using a block of wood (or cork floor tile), you may want to cover the surface with cloth or felt. Secure it on all sides with hot glue if you have it handy – if not, adhesive spray, double-sided tape, or white glue will do the job, too.
    • Whatever you're using (canvas, wood, or otherwise), you may want to paint the background beforehand. A solid pop of red or orange can turn an otherwise simple string art shape into something that makes more of an artistic statement.
    • Or you could just leave your surface bare. Simple can be quite striking, too.

Part 2
Starting Your Design

  1. Image titled Do String Art Step 4 preview
    Place on your design. You're probably using a piece of paper with a shape or word on it or a stencil, right? Whichever one you use, center it on your surface where you'd like the image to be. Secure the design to the surface with tape on the edges where it won't interfere with the string. This is important as you don't want the design to shift while you're pinning.
  2. Image titled Do String Art Step 5 preview
    Hammer the nails or pins into your surface. Following the printed pattern, place nails as close together as you want – the more the nails are scrunched together, the more vibrant the piece will be. That being said, about 1/4" (6mm) apart is a good place to start.
    • Grip the pins with needle-nose pliers to make it easier to hammer the pins in. It also keeps you from slamming the hammer into you fingers.
    • Hammer each pin only until about 1/4" (6mm) protrudes from the surface. You want the nails to be very stable and not be going anywhere anytime soon.
  3. Image titled Do String Art Step 6 preview
    Remove the paper pattern or stencil. Once all the pins or nails are in, un-tape each corner of the design. Then either slide off the stencil or pull the paper up through the nails. If you're working with paper, be patient – you don't want to take any of the nails with you. This may take a second – just pull up each section little by little if it's not easily coming off.
    • If applicable, place the pattern nearby, positioning it so the numbers on the pattern correlate to the pins you hammered into the floor tile.

Part 3
Creating a Pattern with String

  1. Image titled Do String Art Step 7 preview
    Unwrap your string and find the end. Determine your starting point and and tie a knot around that pin (or nail). Dab a bit of clear-drying glue or clear nail polish on the knot and let it dry.
    • While it's drying, map out the design in your mind. Are you going to do it haphazardly (which does work) or incrementally, making the entire thing symmetric? Are you working with different layers of colors? Do you want to weave them in and out? How you go from nail to nail will greatly determine the look of your end product.
  2. Image titled Do String Art Step 8 preview
    Begin weaving your string around the nails. There's no wrong way to thread and weave around the nails. You could do it immediately across from the current nail or weave up and down or side to side. And the beauty of string art? If you mess up, just un-weave and try again. This part is all about experimenting.
    • Have you ever thought about weaving outside of the pattern? You'll have to line the surface with nails, but the inverted version of your art (where the shape is exposed and its surroundings are woven with thread) can be a new take on an otherwise basic piece.
    • You could also use beads, especially if you want certain areas of your piece to pop. Just thread them on and secure them with glue.
    • If it turns out your string is too short, just take your new string and tie the ends together. You may want to put a dab of glue on this knot, too.
  3. Image titled Do String Art Step 9 preview
    Continue weaving in and out of the nails until you're satisfied with the piece. Are you happy with just the one color? Do you want to create multicolored layers? Maybe a different pattern? This is up to you. When you like it, your work is done.
    • If you're interested in changing up patterns, some like to switch up the number of pins they leave between weaves. Start with 5 pins between each weave for one layer, 6 for the next, and so on.
  4. Image titled Do String Art Step 10 preview
    When you're finished, knot the string to a nail. It'll probably make most sense if you can knot it in a corner. Then, cut off the string as close to the knot as possible and once more, secure it with a dab of glue. Your first piece of string art is completed!
  5. Image titled Do String Art Final preview


  • Frame the string art in a picture frame to prevent the pins and embroidery floss from being pulled out.
  • Different pin placement patterns give you a different string art pattern.
  • This craft is excellent for teaching math and geometry in school.
  • Basic shapes are easier than words or images.
  • Teachers can share a variation of this string art craft with their students. Instead of using veneer pins and hammers, she or he can teach the craft using black, heavy construction paper, embroidery floss and tapestry needles. The students sew the floss into the construction paper following a pattern they have drawn.[2]


  • Don't pull pins out of the floor tile as you remove the pattern. Lift the paper straight up, working each pin's head through the paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood block, canvas, or cork floor tile
  • Cloth or felt (optional)
  • Glue, double-sided tape, or some method of adhering surfaces
  • Printed string art pattern or stencil
  • 5/8 inch (16mm) veneer pins (or small nails)
  • Hammer
  • Needle nose pliers (recommended)
  • Embroidery floss or yarn, desired colors
  • Clear nail polish or clear-drying glue

Article Info

Categories: Crafts | String Games