Introduction: DIY String Art Tutorial

Picture of DIY String Art Tutorial

I've been seeing tons of string art popping up all over the web and decided to try my hand at a piece of my own.  I really didn't want to mess with hammers and cutting wood and all that though, so I used cork board instead.  Easy to work with, light weight and cheap!  What's not to love?

Step 1: Here's What You'll Need:

Picture of Here's What You'll Need:

You can find all the supplies for this project by visiting your local craft store & hardware store.  I had a huge stockpile of embroidery floss so this project was a perfect way to use some of it up. 

Corkboard rolls
Linoleum Nails
3M Hanging Strips

Step 2: Flatten Your Cork & Glue It Together

Picture of Flatten Your Cork & Glue It Together

{Before I started this project, I unrolled the cork boards and placed a bunch of heavy books on them to straighten them out a bit.  I left them like this for a day.}

Each piece of cork board is only about 1/32" thick - definitely not enough to hold a nail stable.  So I stacked three together.  Use your glue gun to glue them together.  Put them back under some heavy books for an hour or so so allow to dry completely.

Step 3: Create Your Word Template

Picture of Create Your Word Template

You can download my template for the word "dream" here. The "d" and the "m" will print in two parts on two different sheets.  Cut them all out and assemble into a single word using some Scotch tape.  It should look like this when you're done.

{NOTE:  If you're interested in creating a different word, I shared the font used for this project here.}

Reinforce the spaces between the "e" and "a" and "m" with some additional tape.  That will make the entire template more stable to work with.   Don't worry about cutting out the inside of the "d", "e" and "a".  Not necessary!

Step 4: Center Your Template & Cut Your Cork

Picture of Center Your Template & Cut Your Cork

Center your template out on your cork board.  I decided there was too much cork at this point and wanted to trim away a few inches from the top and bottom.


Step 5: Paint Your Cork

Picture of Paint Your Cork

I really wanted the look of a white background for my string art so I decided to paint the cork.  If you're fine with the cork color/texture background, then feel free to skip this step.  I used some leftover latex paint I had (BM Sea Pearl if you care) and a Styrofoam mini roller.  Nothing special.

When the paint dried, there was a little bit of buckling of the top layer of cork board and I could see where I had missed spots with my hot glue.  Don't worry if this happens to you, it's completely not noticeable after you're done.

Step 6: Apply Your Hanging Strips

Picture of Apply Your Hanging Strips

At this point you'll want to flip the entire canvas over and apply your hanging strips.   Do this now so that you don't have to deal with it once all your nails are in.

Step 7: Begin Outlining Your Word

Picture of Begin Outlining Your Word

Center your template and tape it down.

Insert your nails into the cork, following the outline of your template.  They should push in fairly easily with a little pressure (except when you hit a glob of hot glue below...then you'll need to push a bit!)  Trace the inside of the "d", "e" and "a" by pushing the nails right thru paper.

Step 8: Remove Your Template

Picture of Remove Your Template

When you've traced the entire template, carefully remove the paper.  Work slowly and you're nails will stay in place.

Here's my canvas ready for stringing!  I actually thought it already looked pretty cool at this stage.

Step 9: String Your Canvas

Picture of String Your Canvas

Now the fun part - stringing!  I decided to do this in a rainbow spectrum effect but you could easily do it in all one color as well.

Starting with my dark purple, I tied onto a nail at the top of the "d".

Now you're on your way!  Just start weaving in a back and forth fashion.  The less you think about this the better.  I actually found it to be quite therapeutic. Just let it flow.  If you don't like the way a certain section looks, unwind and do it again.  It's very forgiving!

I kept moving through the color spectrum as I worked my way through the word.  I found that overlapping the colors a bit helped to blend each color into the next.

Step 10: Add a "Frame"

Picture of Add a "Frame"

The last thing I did was to frame out the whole piece with some white duck tape. The edges were looking a little raggedly after I trimmed them and I wanted a cleaner look.

Here's the final result hanging in Knox's nursery.  I was ready to switch things up from the oil pastel art I created before he was born.  I really love how it turned out and because it's lightweight cork, I'm not stressed about hanging it over his crib (I'm always paranoid about stuff falling on him!)

TOTAL COST:  $56.88 (pretty good for a piece this big I think!)
Cork:  $26.97
Embroider floss:  $8.97
Linoleum nails:  $7.56
Hanging strips:  $10.38
Duck tape:  $3.00


Alex Merritt (author)2017-08-17

Here is an example on a larger scale.

Make by Greene Staging in Atlanta, GA.

Swansong (author)2017-04-12

That's beautiful!

EstherLow made it! (author)2017-02-08

thank you so much! the instructions were very clear and easy to follow.

MichelG27 (author)2016-07-26

Why cork over wood?

SandraW60 (author)2016-03-29

Going to try this using Oak or Almond wood and use a capital D looks better then lower case d

lyn.philion (author)2015-12-17

What about using wood instead of cork.

HanaA4 (author)2015-08-13

I'm reading over the steps a few times before actually attempting the project. If you put the nails through the paper on the insides of the "e" and "a," don't the nails just fall out when you're removing the paper template?

SachaT1 (author)HanaA42015-10-06

I learned the hard way... I used card stock... use thin paper, then it just tears off...

Ajay mam made it! (author)2015-08-31

Hey, thanks for the beautiful instructable! here is my remix version I made using junk material at the makerspace in my village.

LenaN made it! (author)2015-08-26

Hey, thanks for the tutorial. Originally, I thought you only had this on your blog, so sorry I didn't show you sooner, but I made one for a Captain America shield. And it just got featured, so thanks so much!

NoelleH (author)2015-07-10

Do you need to tie each new color on to a nail when switching?

heatherng85 (author)2015-05-09

I love this! Very well done!!

Rerezhang (author)2015-03-18

So the cork that i bought i very thing do you think it will work or will i need to put another layer of cork underneath

missdoombunny (author)2015-03-05

Quick question, what was your approximate spacing for the nails? 1/2"? 1/4"? Thanks!

kimikimicat. made it! (author)2015-02-17

Thanks for the pattern! This was my first try doing string art. I resized the lettering in PowerPoint so that it would fit into a 11 x 14 frame. I used a shadow box frame and black foam board instead of cork. I used two layers of the foam board and used spray adhesive to glue them together. Since this one is much smaller that the original, I only needed one box of nails. My total cost (including frame) was about $15. My daughter LOVES IT!!!

taco lover (author)2015-01-08

this is so cool im totally going to try this! TACOS!

GiaByronHolton (author)2015-01-01

i would skip the duct tape and use fabric instead of paint.

pkratsdau (author)2014-12-22

The "string" you used comes in strands that have 6 other individual strands, how many do you use? Just one strand of 6, or do you separate them into two's ?

honeyandfitz (author)pkratsdau2014-12-22

A full strand of 6!

karinamarie123 (author)2014-06-20

I have a membership and I tried printing your template but all that came out were large blobs of ink that had no definition on the paper. I am very frustrated because I spent a lot of time on the other steps only to not be able to print out a usable template at all. It previews the same way, I tried several times. I don't know how to fix it. Please help!

I am having the exact same problem! Have you found a solution yet, because I can't figure it out....

ChloeYY (author)2014-04-30

The idea is awesome! But I want to ask if I doesn't have linoleum nails, what can I use instead?

momo1912 (author)2014-01-03

I put my own twist on it but thank you so much for the inspiration!

swainright (author)2013-08-07

Instead of cork, I used foam board. Took a little bit more effort with getting the nails in place but the cost was cut in half. But great idea all in all. Thanks for sharing :D

paneer65 (author)2013-07-01

your instructions are soooo good and clear! thanks!

agguilar (author)2013-04-01

awesome work!!!

peppermintCreates (author)2012-10-01

I thoug it looked cool ,too!

PinkPalm40 (author)2012-08-04

I love this idea! How did you get your letters to print out on multiple pages?

BarginsTech (author)PinkPalm402012-08-06

Two ways you can do this:

Using Microsoft word:
Simply decide the size of the letters you'd like
Use the Word Art insert
Place "DRE."
Then separately "AM" on a separate page
Make sure the dimensions are even
Tape the letters together!

Using Paint's Text box:
Make the "frame" of the canvas as large as you need for your letters.
Make the letters as big as you'd like!
Go into File. Print. Page Set up.
Look for "Fit to |1| x |1| page
Change it as needed
Always print preview!!


l8nite (author)2012-07-14

very pretty! I've done string art in the past and driving all those nails was the WORST but now that you've mentioned corkboard and Im staring at sheets of packing styrofoam... I may need to consider this a bit !

leasho (author)2012-07-12

awesome rainbow effect with the string!

Browncoat (author)2012-07-12

LOVE the rainbow coloring! This is probably cheaper if you use wood instead of cork, but more work if you use wood instead of cork. It's a great idea for those w/extra money to spend!

ChrysN (author)2012-07-12

Gorgeous! I love that you used a rainbow of colours

mikeasaurus (author)2012-07-12

Wow, this looks great!

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-07-12

That is just beautiful! I love that you chose to do a rainbow spectrum! I think it works wonderfully with your choice of "dream." And it does look like it would be very soothing to work on :)

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