Nail String Art

This project has been on my radar for a while thanks to Pinterest.  Most of the examples I have seen use a state with a heart over a city.  I decided to do my home state, but with a twist:  an I for the University of Illinois instead of a heart.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Wooden base
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Nails - #18 3/4 inch
  • Crochet or Embroidery Thread
  • Outline of your state with your choice of heart or other symbol cut out
  • Tape
  • Object to gauge the distance between nails(I used a skinny pencil)


A few notes on materials:  

I bought a precut base on sale at my local craft store, but you could also cut your own if you have a specific shape in mind or want a heavier wood than the precut stuff.  Make sure that whatever paint you use is made for wood and that you're comfortable using it.  I thought spray paint would work even though I'd never used it before.  Big mistake (see picture).  I ended up buying a new piece of wood and different paint (that I applied with a paintbrush).






How'd I do it?  First, I painted my wooden base orange.  It was tough to paint around the edges, so I ended up slopping the paint around there and then smoothing it all out when I painted the middle.  It took me about 4 coats to get the coverage I wanted.  I let it dry overnight before moving along because I'm paranoid about smudges and chips.





The next day, I taped my outline to the board and got down to business.  I started in the corner of the middle logo and hammered each nail down to about 1/3".  After placing the first nail, I aligned the second nail on the other side of the pencil and hammered it in.  It looked good so I continued on this way around the rest of the logo and the Illinois outline.  After about an hour of hammering, I thought I was done and removed the paper outline.  Unfortunately, I realized I didn't have enough nails around the center logo for the thread to wrap properly so I added another nail in between each nail that was already there.  I realized from the pictures I'd seen on Pinterest that the nails are actually supposed to be closer together around the middle than around the outline.  Oops.

Next came the hard part:  wrapping the thread.  I started wrapping at the right side of the base of the I.  It was difficult to decide how many times to go back around a particular nail from the logo, but I settled on about five depending on the angle.  This method didn't work out so well on the sides, so I added a second layer on top of areas that looked weird (they still look weird, but less so).  I probably could've avoided this if  I had gotten the ratio of nails in the logo to nails in the outline right.  My thread wasn't long enough to wrap everything, so I tied it off and added another thread on the same nail.  I tried to creatively wrap the thread around the nails with knots so they couldn't be seen.  It took me lots of wrapping, unwrapping, and re-wrapping to be even halfway happy with the way it turned out... so take your time and evaluate as you go.  It might save you some frustration.



This was a fun project even if I did have some trouble with it and it didn't come out perfectly.  If nothing else, I'm proud I didn't hammer any of my fingers!  If I did this project again, I would avoid spray paint and be more careful with my inner to outer nail ratio.  I might also choose a different outline since the combinations of states and teams are endless.  Happy hammering!