Introduction: String Art: Heart Strings

Art + Math is probably the coolest combination! This string art project combines both of them in a unique and fun way! So let's take a peek at the math behind the heart shape. Fundamentally we are pulling string between two points. This forms a straight line. So how do we make "curves" with string art? Well we don't. We make "curves" by creating multiple tangential lines along the outline of a shape. This creates a concentration of string around the perimeter of the shape we are creating and a void on the inside. So that's the basics of string art.

This design is based on one done by Stringartfun, you have them to thank for the specifics :)

What You Will Need For This Project

  • 26.5" by 26.5" 3/4" Thick Plywood
  • 80 Nails
  • Ball of White Yarn
  • Primer
  • Black Paint
  • Dark Blue Paint

Step 1: Figuring Out the Diameter

If you want to make your string art the exact size as ours, then your circle's radius is 12.75" and you are done with this step. If you want to make it a different size keep reading!

How to find the diameter of your custom circle:

We are given two points of information:

  1. 80 nails (points on the circle)
  2. each nail is equidistant from its adjacent nail

Now we have to decide the distance between each nail. In the one that we did, our inter-nail distance was 1". This made the circumference of the circle 80". Now using a little math:

Circumference = π*D

Therefore the diameter in of our circle is: D = 80"/π or D = 25.5". And finally the radius is 12.75"

Figuring out the spacing between the nails if you know your circle's radius

Let's say you decide you want a circle of radius R, then you need to work backwards to figure out the spacing between your nails. a circle of radius R has

Circumference = 2*π*R

Now to get the spacing you need to divide the circumference by the number of nails

Nail Spacing = Circumference/(80)

The final equation to directly figure out your nail spacing based on any given radius is:

Nail Spacing = (2*π*R)/80

A note on scalability. I have been thinking about how you could add more nails because this would potentially mess up the shape.But you can definitely double the number of nails and still maintain the same shape. You will just have to adjust for the added nails when wrapping the string.

Step 2: Drawing Your Circle and Drilling 80 Holes

Picture of Drawing Your Circle and Drilling 80 Holes

Now that we've got the radius of our circle (12.75" or your custom radius) we need to draw our circle.

  1. Find and mark the exact center of the plywood.
  2. Hammer a nail into the center
  3. Tie one end of a piece of string to the nail
  4. Tie the other end of the string to a pencil that, when pulled taut, measures 12.75" from the center nail
  5. Holding the pencil perpendicular to the board and taut against the nail, draw your circle.

A few notes on drawing your circle. Use string that doesn't stretch very much so your circle doesn't accidentally get larger on one side. Make sure that the string around the nail in the middle is free to spin around the nail as you draw your circle.

Now its time to mark your 80 equidistant tick marks for the 80 nails.

  1. Start at the top of the circle (closest to one side of the square wood)
  2. Make a mark at the top
  3. Measure 1" (or your custom spacing) over on the circle and mark
  4. Continue this process all the way around until you have 80 equidistant marks
  5. Go back with a drill bit 1/2 the diameter of the nails you are using and predrill on each mark.

A few notes on drawing your marks. Since you are drawing a straight line from point to point and not following the curve of the circle, the nails will actually be slightly further apart than 1". This only becomes an issue on the 80th nail. If you don't compensate slightly for this oversight, The 80th nail will fall 1 inch from the 79th nail but only 0.5" from the first nail. So do your marks , just on the inside of the 1" demarkation and you should be good!

If your predrill bit is too large, then the tension of the strings will pull the nails out. So be careful! It's pretty annoying when your design starts falling apart!

Step 3: Paint Paint and a Little Bit of Paint Then Some Sealing

Picture of Paint Paint and a Little Bit of Paint Then Some Sealing

Painting is much more entertaining when doing it with a friend :)

  1. Start off with some primer
  2. Follow up with black paint
  3. While the black paint is still wet add a deep midnight blue
  4. Let all that dry and spray it down with a sealer: fast drying polyurethane spray

The sealer is pretty sweet because it makes the entire board shine which added a cool contrast to the string. Plus its super easy to do if you have a spray can!

Step 4: Hammering the Nails

Picture of Hammering the Nails

Grab your hammer and 80 nails and go at it. Try and get every nail to be roughly the same height. It helps to use nails that have large heads to stop the string from slipping off.

Step 5: String Pattern 1: the Background

Picture of String Pattern 1: the Background
  • There are two patterns that you will follow to make the heart shape. The first one acts as a background. That is the one we will be doing in this step.

Before you start this section it is really REALLY helpful to go around and number the nails. We did this by putting little strips of painters tape on every 5th nail and writing the nail number.

The schematic shown above is copyrighted by DJ Designed - "www.Stringartfun.com"

Start off by tying the end of the string to nail number 2. Below we have listed how the string goes from nail to nail. In each case you want to run the string along the outside edge of the nail for consistency. There is a pattern here, but its much easy to follow the schematic and the numbers below, and after a few passes, you will see the pattern. One thing to note is the change in the patter at step 25 below. Make sure you take note of that!

  1. 2 - 43
  2. 43 - 45
  3. 45 - 3
  4. 3 - 4
  5. 4 - 47
  6. 47 - 49
  7. 49 - 5
  8. 5 - 6
  9. 6 - 51
  10. 51 - 53
  11. 53 - 7
  12. 7 - 8
  13. 8 - 55
  14. 55 - 57
  15. 57 - 9
  16. 9 - 10
  17. 10 - 59
  18. 59 - 61
  19. 61 - 11
  20. 11 - 12
  21. 12 - 63
  22. 63 - 65
  23. 65 - 13
  24. 13 - 14
  25. 14 - 67 The Pattern reverses here
  26. 67 - 68
  27. 68 - 15
  28. 15 - 17
  29. 17 - 69
  30. 69 - 70
  31. 70 - 19
  32. 19 - 21
  33. 21 - 71
  34. 71 - 72
  35. 72 - 23
  36. 23 - 25
  37. 25 - 73
  38. 73 - 74
  39. 74 - 27
  40. 27 - 29
  41. 29 - 75
  42. 75 - 76
  43. 76 - 31
  44. 31 - 33
  45. 33 - 77
  46. 77 - 78
  47. 78 - 35
  48. 35 - 37
  49. 37 - 79
  50. 79 - 80
  51. 80 - 39
  52. 39 - 41 Tie it off at 41

Step 6: String Pattern 2: the Heart

Picture of String Pattern 2: the Heart

This second pattern that sits on top of the first is little bit more challenging. But don't worry, we figured out the exact nail to nail placements. I will lay out one complete pass from one side of the heart to the other on a single line this time. Where the numbers are bold, they are adjacent and the string should be wrapped around their outside (see schematic above for clarification)

  1. 41 - 55 - 69 - 15 - 29 - 30
  2. 30 - 16 - 71 - 56 - 42 - 43
  3. 43 - 57 - 73 - 17 - 31 - 32
  4. 32 - 18 - 75 - 58 - 44 - 45
  5. 45 - 59 - 77 - 19 - 33 - 34
  6. 34 - 20 - 79 - 60 - 46 - 47
  7. 47 - 61 - 1 - 21 - 35 - 36
  8. 36 - 22 - 3 - 62 - 48 - 49
  9. 49 - 63 - 5 - 23 - 37 - 38
  10. 38 - 24 - 7 - 64 - 50 - 51
  11. 51 - 65 - 9 - 25 - 39 - 40
  12. 40 - 26 - 11 - 66 - 52 - 53
  13. 53 - 67 - 13 - 27 - 41 This is where you tie off the other end

To finish it off wrap the string along the outside perimeter of the circle.

It's a good idea to double knot the string and add a little bit of super glue so it doesn't come undone. Because that would be bad!

Step 7: And You Are Done!

Picture of And You Are Done!

The only finishing touches that need doing are hanging, snapping and sharing! If you make one and want to share it with us shoot us a tweet @HowWeMakeThings!

Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with How We Make Things and share your creations with us! We also post previews of our projects on these sites!

Thanks for checking out what we are up to @How We Make Things! We hope you tune in for our next projects!

Step 8:

Comments

Kuuran (author)2016-03-24

Nice project. If one has access to a projector that could help getting the nails right. Just drawing a white circumference with ticks for the nails over a black background, then project it over the work piece.

PatrickW51 (author)Kuuran2016-03-24

That's a good idea! It would be way easier to project a digital image than draw it out!

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Bio: My sister and I like to make things! And even more than making things, we like to share our creations! We want to create beautiful ... More »
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