I think the last time I did a string art project was in elementary school, but I have to admit that it’s been a project on my list for a long while now. So happy to have finally brought this craft back into my life. Being a design graduate, I’m a huge type nerd, so I wanted to make a statement piece to add to my work space. The mixture of natural wood elements with rough nails contrasted by the softness 0f the intertwined string…swoon.
- Silhouette CAMEO or PORTRAIT
- A piece of wood of your choice (I got mine from Michaels)
- Nails (19 x .5″)
- String or Embroidery Floss
- Silhouette Chipboard
1. Set up your ampersand shape in Silhouette Design Studio and size it to fit accordingly on your wood piece.
2. With the chipboard in place on your cutting mat, send your shape to your CAMEO or PORTRAIT to cut your ‘template’. Be sure to check that your cut settings are set to the Chipboard settings in Silhouette Studio. I liked using chipboard for this because it’s a bit studier for template purposes and didn’t flap around with all the hammering and moving.
3. To keep your template in place, use double sided tape to temporarily adhere the chipboard to your project.
4. Using a pencil, draw guide marks along the entire outer edge of your design shape. These marks will be to guide you in where to hammer your nails. I typically placed the initial marks at corners or points where I knew a nail would need to go and then filled in the rest along the path line.
5. With the ampersand chipboard template still in place, begin to hammer a nail into each of your marked guides keeping the spacing between nails as even as possible around the entire shape. With shapes that have very smooth curves like this ampersand, you will need to use more nails along the edge too keep the the lines from getting too angular. This one took a lot of nails and hammering, which my poor neighbors probably loved. Blame this eternal winter for keeping me indoors. Also, don’t beat yourself up if all your nails don’t go in completely square. At one point I tried hammering onto a pillow to cushion some of the blow for those nearby residents sanity. Turns out, not the most level of surface so I’ve got
some quite a few crooked ones, too. We’ll all survive.
6. Once your entire shape is outlined with nails, tie the end of your embroidery floss or string choice to one nail and begin to wrap and weave through and around the nails, essentially coloring in the ampersand shape with string. I had to have my computer opened to the ampersand shape so that I could reference it while “stringing”. Once that chipboard guide is gone, it takes a bit of “magic eye” concentration to keep a clear sense of what your filling in vs not. Like a connect the dots…minus the numbers. Yikes.
I would also recommend tying your initial starting string at either the beginning or end of the ampersand shape, and trim the tail end off. Don’t begin stringing in the middle of the ampersand, or you will not be able to follow smoothly along the entire design. Continue wrapping the string to and from various nails and back to others until you reach the end (or in my case, run out of string.)
7. If you do run out of string, simply tie off the end to one of the nails. I chose to use a different colored embroidery floss on the top half of my ampersand shape, but you could opt to do the entire thing in one color. Truth is, I ran out of one color and some times mishaps lead to better things…which I think in this case is fitting because the part that was out of my control ended up being the element I favor most on this project.
8. Once your shape is completely “colored in” with string, you’re all done! I was really impressed with how quickly the whole process moved along. I think the whole thing took me about an hour from start to finish! Not too shabby for a quick office addition.
If you’re looking at this thinking “I can’t.” I promise you can. It looks a lot more intimidating that in is, and oddly gratifying when you complete it. If you’re looking to simplify, I suggest choosing a more geometric type shape with straight lines. For instance, a square would only need 4 nails because it has 4 corners, so on and so forth. Straight lined shapes make it easier to understand where the nails and string go until you get a handle smooth curves!
I know I say this a lot, but the best part about Silhouette is that you can adapt this tutorial to fit a design you like from the thousands in the Silhouette Design Store. I had probably 12 different design shapes chosen before my typography loving heart made a final choice, so play around! I’ll tell you one thing, this may be my first string art in over 20 years, but it won’t be my last.