Introduction: Reclaimed String Art Plaques

About: Upcycled and Repurposed Goods for the Home

You know those wooden plaques that were probably hanging all over your grandmother's walls growing up? Normally covered in calligraphy and farm scenes, they have a tendency to not add much in the way of modern decor. If you find yourself with a stack of these on your hands, don't fret--they can be turned into something completely different in about a half hour!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

For this project you'll need:

Flat plaque (the kind that are painted/printed work the best)

String (any color)

Small nails

Scrap paper






Needlenose pliers


Step 2: Prep Your Board

If you'd like, sand the face of the board and paint a coat or two until the underlying design is no longer visible. Here, we just painted the very front and left the edges as exposed wood, to which we applied a dark wax finish.

This is the point to add hanging hardware if the board does not already have it. Trust us, you don't want to be trying to hammer in hardware when you've already hammered in your design on the other side. It rarely ends well.

Step 3: Sketch Out Design

Tape your piece of scratch paper to the board and draw your design, marking the intersections (where the nails will go).

For those who are a little less gifted in the drawing department, your computer screen makes a pretty good emergency drafting table. Make your chosen image the right size for your plaque, turn up your brightness, place your paper over it and (gently!) trace the outline.

Step 4: Add Nails

Hammer in each nail at the intersection dots in your design. Depending on the length of the nail and the size of your fingers, it may help to hold the nail in place with pliers while you hammer it. There should be a good amount of nail left sticking up, but make sure each nail is secure enough for string tension.

Step 5: Start Stringing

Tie the string firmly around your starting nail and start connecting the dots by wrapping the string around each subsequent nail. Keep in mind you may have to try a couple different wrapping routes to get a pattern of form and overlap that suits your design. Make sure you're pulling the string tight between each nail, but not so tight as to pull the nails out!

Step 6: Finish Up

On the last nail (these normally look best if you can end on the starting nail, but that's not always totally possible), knot the string again, pulling it tight. Snip the strings very close to the knot and coat each knot and string end with a dab of glue to keep them from unraveling.