You Should Totally: Make DIY State String Art


Last week I told you how fantastic/amazing/awesome the Anthropologie + Design Crush String Art Workshops were, today I’m going to tell you all about the project we created and how you can make your own. Ready, set, go!




12 x 12″ square wood canvas
outline of the state of your choice
• scissors
• tape
brass coated 5/8″ linoleum nails
• hammer
• a spool of sewing thread of the color of your choice




1. Print out an outline of the state of your choice.
If you have Photoshop on your computer you can use it to size appropriately, if not simply use the percentage function on your printer or use a copier. (Quality doesn’t particularly matter here.) Using either Photoshop or a marker, draw a heart around the city of your choice. It’s important to make it at least the size of a quarter while staying inside the boundary of the state’s outline (you may need to cheat if it’s near the border).

2. Cut around the edges.
Leave about a half inch border or so.

3. Tape it down.
Don’t be too skimpy with the tape either. Secure every side to the wooden canvas because the paper will want to slip and slide once you start hammering.

4. Start nailing.
Choose the upper right corner to begin with your first nail. From there add another, each one roughly 1/4″ away from the next. You’ll want to make the slightly closer – without touching! – when you make your way around the heart, you’ll see why later.




5. Remove the paper.
This is the most gratifying part to me, once you’re finished nailing around your border tear up the template and tape.




6. Wrap away.
To begin, tie a knot around the same nail in the upper left that you started with earlier. From there wrap back and forth between the nails on the border and the interior heart, I like to wrap around each border nail twice to make the color of the string pop more. You’ll use the same interior heart nail to anchor several border nails. Move onto the next when it feels right (i.e. there’s too much thread around one or visually it’s time).

7. Finish up.
After making your way around the entire state outline it will be time to tie off on the same nail you began with. And that’s it! Instant art.




Another option is to abandon my OCD way of wrapping and create a more random design. To do this simply use a random pattern to wrap between border nail-to-border nail-to-heart nail, etc. Brewed Together wrote about attending the workshop and Kaleb (our lone male crafter!) killed it with his random design, take a peek. You can also opt to fill in the heart with a second color of string, Kaleb’s wife Marilyn did just that. In other words, have fun and make it your own!

  • FripperyVintage

    July 8, 2013 at 11:13 am Reply

    Love this. Great idea and doesn’t look too hard!

  • Emily

    July 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm Reply

    Such a fun event and you were a fabulous hostess 😉 can’t wait for the next one!!

    • Kelly

      July 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm Reply

      thanks so much, Emily! xo

  • M&K

    July 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm Reply

    We had such a great time with you! Can’t wait to hang out again soon. Hope you had a wonderful holiday! Xo, M&K

  • Taylor

    December 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Where did you (anyone) find their wood canvas? I have looked everywhere and can’t seem to find anything to use.

    • Kelly

      December 28, 2013 at 6:17 pm Reply

      Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon all have them.

  • Sandee

    June 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm Reply

    I’m having a really hard time getting the nails to actually STAY in the wood. I have cut 2x4s underneath to give the back a little more stability while hammering (and that helped) but some of the nails are falling out and not going in straight. I think if I were to do this again, I would use a longer nail for ease of hammering.

    • Jay Parton

      November 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm Reply

      We used needle nose pliers to hold the small nails while we hammered each one in… the more nails used, the better defined the image will be… we chose to use a 1/2″-inch thick wood back, and used 3/4″ length nails that we hammered in about 1/2 the nail length deep for each nail… hope that helps!

  • Erica

    June 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm Reply

    So what if your home city is on the border.. I’m from Iowa and my hometown is right on the border. How do we work that?

    • Kelly

      June 25, 2014 at 11:01 am Reply

      I imagine you’ll have to cheat it just a bit.

  • Sandee

    June 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm Reply

    I ended up using a different piece of wood actually which solved my nail problem. My city is right in the southeast corner of Wisconsin so what I did was turned the point of my heart so that it’s pointing towards the southeast corner and it gave me a little more flexibility. Also, I used needle-nosed pliers to hold my nails which REALLY helped get those tight nails in. I ended up using the needle-nosed pliers for the rest of the project because it helped keep the nail straight.

    • Kelly

      June 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm Reply

      great ideas, Sandee! i’ll definitely be trying out the pliers if i make any more. 🙂

  • Rosa

    January 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for adding links to the materials:) That helped me so much! I’m so glad I found this website.

  • Dan Howell

    September 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm Reply

    Do you use a hot glue gun? and does the glue show once dry? My project has alot of string around the nails, and am afraid sooner or later the string could pop off the nail (simply by handling it too much), so once done with the project, would it be a good idea to just go around and glue the string thats already on the nail throughout before I call it quits?

    • Kelly

      September 18, 2016 at 7:25 pm Reply

      I didn’t use a glue gun and everything has stayed in place fine.

  • Brittany R

    October 18, 2016 at 11:13 am Reply

    How do you actually get the nails to stay in the wood? I spent 9 hours this weekend hammering the nails into the wood but they all kept falling out. I would get one completely in, start on the second nail, and the first nail would fall out :/. I am using the same nails that are listed and a wooden canvas from Michaels. Any recommendations?

    • Kelly

      October 18, 2016 at 11:52 am Reply

      Hmmm, I hammered mine in about half the length of the nail. Maybe they aren’t deep enough?

  • Raeann

    December 1, 2016 at 1:49 am Reply


    I’m a first timer for this and I was wondering since you did halfway in if it came through the other side of the canvas? How do you know when to stop hammering before it goes through the wooden canvas? Could you explain that part more for me please?



    • Kelly

      December 1, 2016 at 11:42 am Reply

      Hi Raeann,

      Depending on whether it’s a solid piece of wood you’re using or an actual wood “canvas” there’s a chance the nails will come through. I’ve used both in projects. If the nails come through consider covering the backside of the canvas with a piece of kraft paper or other heavy material. I hope this helps!


  • Shelly Menghini

    February 26, 2018 at 1:05 pm Reply

    When you pull off the paper, do you have any problem with just a bit of the paper resting with the point of the nail you pounded in? If so, how can you do this without poghnding your nails through the paper?

    • Kelly

      March 2, 2018 at 3:00 pm Reply

      No, I haven’t had a problem with the paper sticking in any of my string art projects. I’d just recommend making sure you use a thin weight like copy paper rather than cardstock.

  • Shelly Menghini

    February 26, 2018 at 1:06 pm Reply

    * Pounding ~ sorry

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