Introduction: String Art Map

Picture of String Art Map

I've seen a few string art maps recently that I thought were adorable and wanted to make a string art map of California that really showcased my love of the Bay Area.  Plus I haven't done string art since I was a kid!  This seemed like the perfect reason to revisit a fun craft.   I heart string art!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You'll need to gather:

A map of the area you want to immortalize in string
Paint (optional)

It's all pretty obvious, really.

Step 2: Trace the Map

Picture of Trace the Map

First I found a map of California online because I wanted to be able to manipulate the shape and size.  You can also do this with a paper map.

Then I imported the map to an image manipulation program (Illustrator probably, or Photoshop, but you can use anything), created a new layer and traced around the border.  Then I added a heart where I live and deleted the map layer, leaving me with a clean outline.

Next I split the image into pieces that would print easily on 8.5x11 paper, printed it out, and taped it together! 

Step 3: Nail It

Picture of Nail It

You can treat the board you are going to use however you want to, or not at all.  I had a robin's egg blue in mind, and found some appropriate spray paint.  You can use stain or dye or paint, or fabric, or whatever you like.

Next, place the map on top of your board and start nailing away!  I placed my nails about 1/2" apart and wish I had put them closer together.  Which is hard because my fingers aren't much thinner than that, and holding the nails in place was tricky!

Don't pull too hard on the string as you're wrapping your nails.  My string kept popping off the nails, and even popped nails out of the board until I learned to loosen up a little!

Step 4: String Away

Picture of String Away

I first decided to make a radial pattern with the string, coming from the heart to all corners.  

Then I decided to go nuts.  

Which version do you prefer?

Make your own string art map with your favorite town indicated and post it in the comments for a free 3-month Pro membership!


scooter76 (author)2012-07-20

Very cool. Made this for a shark loving friend. Thanks for the great Instructable

scoochmaroo (author)scooter762012-07-23

Awesome! 3-mo PRO for you!

colavita.girl (author)2012-06-19

I've only ever done one string art project before this but this looked so cool that I had to try it. I had a bunch of nails left over from my first project so they came in handy. Since they were so small I used a pair of needle nose pliers to hold them in place which worked out really well. Thanks for the cool project :)

I did Florida

3-mo Pro for you!

The Science Guy (author)2012-06-10

I didn't have a board big enough to do my country (Scotland) so I tried these two first.

Adorable. I love them!

Padstar (author)2012-06-05

I tried something similar with what i had lying around. i know they are not perfect but the next few will be better (hopefully buy some nails)

scoochmaroo (author)Padstar2012-06-05


JessiS8 (author)2016-12-02

Thanks! One thing I just keep trying to figure out is what is the best TYPE of string to use for something like this? I want the pattern to really pop. I'm doing a distressed, darker stain on a wooden back (pallet style) so I'll use a bright white string, but sewing thread just seems too thin and flimsy. Ideas?

mlduffy (author)2015-08-18

Going to do this with some students this year! Thanks!

2ashley9 (author)2015-04-10

Very nice, did you just use one length of string or did you cut and tie it off after every few nails?

pkratsdau (author)2014-12-22

May I suggest using a comb and placing a nail in every or every other ( whichever you prefer ) space. The comb will help hold the nail in place so you don't hit your thumb ect... when nailing, and you can space the nails as close or as far as you like.

Damutsch (author)2014-11-09

Awesome project, I was going to make a map of Düsseldorf, Germany, but it turned out way to complicated so i made the skyline over the Rhein instead! I used some floor panels that I had left over, stained and glued them together!

violingirl made it! (author)2014-10-03

Here's mine of Wyoming. It was a birthday gift.

Nousie (author)2013-02-13

Thank you for this instructable! It was really fun to do. I made this as a Valentine's gift for my boyfriend, it's Curacao (where he's from).

scoochmaroo (author)Nousie2013-02-13

Gorgeous, I love it! 3-mo PRO for you!

the_cactus_caper (author)2012-08-01

i do love my California..looks awesome

The Abstract Monster (author)2012-06-13


Padstar (author)2012-06-12

Question, did everyone use one length of string? i did....not sure if it was the best thing to do.

scoochmaroo (author)Padstar2012-06-13

I did for the second round of stringing. I think it was better for me because the string I was using was really heavy and the knots where I had to tie it off were visible.

Terranan (author)2012-06-04

oooh! Looks nice!

What if u took major cities, put nails where those would be, and have the string hit that so you see where the city is? Would that work?

Padstar (author)Terranan2012-06-12

You'll love it, great fun to play with different routes. i was going to do that myself but with screws it didnt work. Nails next time and thinner string

leeski (author)2012-06-07

This project is bringin on some inspiration as something I cna do with my son. talk about enless possibilities. star wars x-wing fighter or maybe black string to make darth vader.....

scoochmaroo (author)leeski2012-06-10


jessyratfink (author)2012-06-05

I think I'll be needing to make one of these in the shape of Kentucky. :D

Jmae (author)jessyratfink2012-06-06

I think I will be doing the exact same thing. :)

lmnopeas (author)2012-06-05

Really cool! I love the detail with the heart.

angelabchua (author)2012-06-05


SelkeyMoonbeam (author)2012-06-05

Cool! Can we have a maps challenge sometime?

AcrylicMonster (author)2012-06-05

this is so great! Good job!!!

BLUEBLOBS2 (author)2012-06-04

Awesome! I might have to try this sometime.

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