Forget the brown and orange swirly patterned string art from the '70s - this string word art is a fun, contemporary and low-cost way to add art to your walls. Random geometric shapes, an ombre effect and the inclusion of type make this string art right on trend. It looks fantastic, can be completed in an afternoon and doesn't require artistic ability - just follow the step-by-step instructions and you'll have a gorgeous new art piece ready to hang. This tutorial includes a printable template so there's no need for you to do the tricky bit of calculating and measuring for the nail placement. It couldn't be easier!
- 12mm (half inch) thick plywood, 60 x 60 cm (23.5 inches square).
- White acrylic (interior house) paint.
- Paint brush.
- Downloaded and printed template pages.
- 25 mm (1 inch) nails, 1.6 mm size.
- Sandpaper - optional.
- Skeins of embroidery floss: charcoal, deep blue, mid blue x 2, sky blue, light blue, dark teal x 2, mid green, light green, pale aqua, lime.
- Sticky tape.
- Washi tape - optional.
Step 1: Prepare the Backing Board
Check the edges of the board and sand them if they are rough.
Wipe the board and the edges with a damp cloth.
Paint the board with long brushstrokes in a single direction.
The edges of the board can be painted now or covered with a strip of washi tape later.
Allow the paint to dry before painting a second coat. I needed to apply a third coat - check the coverage when the second one is dry. Don't forget to do the edges if you aren't using washi tape.
Set aside to dry.
If you are adding washi tape to the edges of the board, do that now. Simply run the tape along the edge of the board and fold any additional width around to the back. Press it on firmly.
Step 2: Download and Print the Template
Click here to download the template. The file will print successfully on either A4 or letter sized paper.
Step 3: Assemble the Template and Attach It to the Backing Board
Trim the template pages along the outer-most line on all four sides of the page.
Lay them out on the table in the correct order (according to the numbers) and join them together with sticky tape.
Lay the template on top of the backing board. Using a ruler, make sure it is centered on the board and it's straight. Using a small piece of tape on each of the four sides, secure the template to the board.
Step 4: Hammer in the Nails
The black dots on the template indicate the positions for the nails. Starting at one end hammer the nails in row by row. Make sure you only add nails where the dots are - be especially careful you don't accidentally add nails inside the letter "K" where the grid lines cross. Try to hammer each nail in to the same depth, so they are the same height. They don't have to be exact, but it's important that the nails are all roughly the same height.
When all the nails are in place your board will look like this:
Step 5: Remove the Paper Template
Starting at one corner, pull the paper up and off the nails. If small pieces of paper remain stuck under some nails, pick them off with your fingers. A pair of tweezers may be helpful if this is tricky.
Step 6: Wind Thread Around the Outside of the Letters
Referring to the template, count the grid squares from the bottom to find the correct 'starting point' nail where you will begin winding your thread. See the image below (the bottom right of the 'O').
Take the dark teal thread. There's no need to cut it - just use it straight from the skein. Join the thread to the first nail by wrapping it around the nail twice, leaving a tail of about 8cm (3 inches) long. Then tie a double knot around the nail. Cut the tail to about 5mm (less than a quarter of an inch) long.
The knot should be about half-way down the nail.
Start winding the thread around the outside of the "O", referring to the template and counting the grid squares as you go. The thread must be tight between the nails, and wrap right around each nail. Don't just pass the nails, ensure you wrap around each one, about half-way down the nail.
Continue around the 'O' until you reach the nail you began on. When you wrap the thread around this nail make sure you wrap it around the tail of the thread to enclose it.
Now take the thread across and down one grid square to begin the 'K'.
Wrap the thread all the way around the outside of the 'K', referring to the template as a guide, until you reach the beginning again. Always ensure that you wrap the thread completely around each nail, about half-way down.
Step 7: Begin to Fill in the Background
Take the thread down from the bottom of the 'K' and begin to wrap it randomly around the nails at the bottom of the board. The aim is not to create any sort of pattern, the lines should cross and overlap each other randomly. Don't forget to wrap the thread the whole way around each nail and to keep the tension tight.
When you've used the whole skein of dark teal thread, start using the charcoal thread. Always begin and end threads on one of the central nails - not on the outside circle or the edge of a letter. Finish off the thread when you still have about 8cm (3 inches) left. Wrap the thread around the nail twice, then tie a double knot around the nail. Cut the tail off so it's about 5mm (less than a quarter of an inch) long. Start the new thread on a different nail, the same way as instructed in step 6.
Wind the charcoal thread randomly over a similar area to the teal thread. You are creating a layered dark base for the string art, which will blend into lighter colours on either side. To create the blending effect the layering of the threads should be less dense on the outer edges.
Next, use dark blue thread and work over the same area to continue to build up the layers.
Extend the dark blue thread up the right hand side of the 'K'.
Step 8: Fill in the Right Hand Side of the Circle
Using the mid-blue thread, then the sky blue thread, build up layers of random lines on the right hand side of the artwork. Always wind the thread completely around each nail and make sure it's half-way down the nail.
The top of the circle is going to be light blue, so use less of the mid blue as you reach the top of the 'K'.
Step 9: Fill in the Top of the Circle
Start using the light blue thread and go back down over a section of the mid- and dark blue threads to create a blend of tones. Work the light blue thread up and over the top of the circle.
Look back over the sections you've already completed and add in more layers of thread so the colours are layered in tone and are quite dense.
Step 10: Fill in the Left Hand Side
Repeat the same process using the shades of green thread, overlapping, layering and blending the tones into the dark base of the circle and the pale top.
Step 11: Fill in Any Gaps and the Centre of the 'O'
Step back and view your string art from a distance to make sure the colours are blending and there are no gaps. Continue adding thread until you are happy with the art.
Using the same process, fill in the centre of the 'O'.
Step 12: Hang and Display Your Art
Add a hanging device to the back of the board and hang it on the wall, or sit it on a shelf or sideboard.
Have you ever made string art before? What do you think of our fresh new take on this retro craft? Do you think you might have a go at this project? Let us know in the comments section below.
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