Tuesday, March 4, 2014

State of the Art

Has anyone NOT seen these nail and string art masterpieces on Etsy yet?  I've always thought they were amazing, and obviously wanted to try making my own at some point.  However, I always suspected that this would be one of those situations where my DIY did not quite live up to my inspiration…  but that's okay.  I still think it turned out pretty cool!  Apologies that I do not have pictures for each step - if you have any questions, please contact me, or leave a comment below!  This would also be a super cute gift idea.

  • Nails (the shortest with the smallest head that you can find - you'll see why soon.)
  • Embroidery Thread (you can really use any string, but embroidery thread is so cheap and comes in so many different colors it is PERFECT for this!)
  • Picture of your desired state, blown up to size
  • Hammer
  • Rectangular (or desired shape) piece of wood - you can find these in all shapes at any craft store
  • Paint or wood stain (as desired).
Paint your wood piece with your desired color or stain - I used a cherry colored wood stain for mine, as I liked the natural wood look.  Let it dry completely.  Cut out the picture of your desired state, and tape it down to your painted wood piece. 

Take your nails, and hammer them into the wood (not all the way in - leave about 1/4 an inch), all the way around the picture of your state.  Yes, you should hammer the nails around the paper - don't worry, you'll be removing this soon!  Once you have the outline of your state completed, also hammer your nails into the shape of a heart over your city.  You can free-hand this, or go ahead and draw a heart cut-out in your paper, and use this as your guide.  

Now comes the fun party!  Take the embroidery string, and wind it around the nails - for every one time I looped around one of the outside nails, I would loop about 10 or more times around one of the inside heart nails.  You can play this by ear as you go along.  (NOTE - for sections of your map that are separated from the inside heart nails, I just wrapped the string around in the same direction TOWARDS the inside heart nails.)

You may have to play around with how you wrap your string, but you will quickly learn the best way to do it and how to make it work for you.

Complete!!  My big regret here is the nails I used - I got them from Home Depot, and they are some UGLY nails…. definitely not art quality.  You may want to get yours from Michaels or something.  Mine looked like they can't stand the fact that they are part of an art project, and would give anything to be hammered into a deck or a 2x4 instead.

Note that this is what the back side of my project looks like.  This is why you should get the shortest nails with the smallest head that you can find!


  1. I've seen many of those done and I really like the one you did. I would probably try push pins or something because all my nails would be crooked.

    1. Thanks Lauren - you'd be surprised how easy it is to hammer the nails straight once you get going..!

  2. Very cute project! I definitely understand about the nails, but I still think they look just fine! I have seen a few bloggers do projects with string/nails and it always looks great and is so easy. I think I need to give it a try.

  3. So nicely done! I really like the cherry stain :-).