If you are looking for a sweet but really easy and budget-friendly gift idea that your kids can make to give to their grandparents, teachers, coaches…whoever!…then I have just the idea for you! These DIY string art plaques only take a few supplies (that you can easily find at your local craft store) and come together really fast. They are fun to make and can be customized in countless ways based on what holiday you’re making them for or who you are giving them to. Let me show you how they come together so you can whip some up as Christmas or Valentines gifts too!
This simple DIY string art project actually came about in a fun way! I first came up with the idea as a project for a birthday brunch I threw for my girlfriend a few months ago. I wanted something that could keep our hands busy while we visited and could be taken home as a party favor. I had a hunch a sting art project (which I had actually never done before) would be fun and somewhat mess-free, but I also wanted to keep it really simple and inexpensive. So I hunted around Michaels and found the perfect supplies for the project. I then made a quick sample to put out at the party and let my guests get creative on their own! The results turned out even more darling than I could have expected, and I tucked the idea away to share at Valentine’s Day.
But then Henry came home from school and saw my little heart project and begged…literally begged…to make one too. It never occurred to me that this could be a really fun kids’ craft, so I bought a few more wooden plaques and helped him create his own string art for his bedroom. No surprise…he picked an X-Wing fighter over a heart 😉
With the exception of helping him get some nails into the tighter corners, Henry did that art all by himself, even picking out which yarn would go where (he’s 7.5 years old). And so I thought…not only would these be a great classroom project (if you’re okay with a lot of hammering noise!), but would also make really, really sweet kid’s gifts for family members, teachers, etc!
I kind of got addicted to making them because they’re so darn cute, and I just know you will all LOVE how quickly and easily they come together…so let me show you how it’s done!
My two main priorities with this project were 1) cheap and 2) easy. If you look up DIY String Art on Pinterest, you’ll see all sorts of crazy and amazing ideas. I wanted this to be something that could be done fast and while ladies were chatting…and it’s this exact simplicity that also makes this project perfect for kids! Here is what you need:
- 5″ square wood plaques – I found mine at Michaels for $0.99 a piece…I love this chunky square because it stands up on its own (perfect for bookcases!), but you could certainly use any size and shape wooden plaque you can find! This bulk set is another great option!
- Variegated yarn (more on this below)
- Small nails (more on this below)
- Tack hammer – any hammer will probably work, but I find these small craft hammers perfect for the tiny nails. And if you’re doing this as a party or classroom craft, get a few!
- Acrylic paint and paintbrush – choose a color that matches your yarn, these are my favorites!
- Thumb tac (not shown)
- String art template sized to about 3″ wide – I used this free heart template, but you can use pretty much any string art template you can find. Try using Google to find free designs (that’s how I found the X-wing), or this shop on Esty has great designs too!
A quick note about the yarn. It’s actually when I stumbled upon all these Sugar’n’Cream yarn skeins at Michaels that the idea for this project really came to life. By using yarn with different colors, you end up with a really pretty final product with only using one piece of yarn all the way through. There are dozens of color options, so you can easily pick different schemes based on which holidays or people you are making this for!
TIP! You can see AAALL the various color options here, but note that these skeins run about $1.99 each at Michaels and often go on sale!
Since I originally did this craft for a party, I also wanted to provide different nail color options. I found the best selection at Lowes (in the section with thumbtacks and hooks) and bought silver, copper and gold versions…all which look great with the different yarn schemes!
Making the DIY String Art
Once you find a template you love (again, finding a pattern is easy on Google or Etsy), re-size it to be about 3″ wide (obviously adjust the size if you use a bigger wooden plaque). Then tape the template onto your wooden plaque, orienting it exactly as you want.
TIP! If you’re doing this for a class or party, run off lots of templates so everyone has their own.
Next, use a plain ol’ thumb tac to pierce the paper template where each nail should go. Push hard enough so that you puncture the wood underneath too.
When you remove the paper template, you should be able to see exactly where each nail should go. (You can discard the template at this point, as you will no longer need it!)
Next, use the tac hammer to nail each nail into the wood in the designated spots, leaving about 1/4-1/2″ gap between the top of the nail and the wood surface. Try as best you can to put the nails in straight and even, but don’t stress too much about it. If you look closely at Henry’s X-wing, they aren’t at all straight or even, but they held the yarn just fine!
Then, take the end of the yarn and knot it twice around one nail, leaving a tail of 2-3.” It doesn’t matter which nail you use, but I suggest one near the bottom of your design.
Then just wrap the yarn around the nails, moving back and forth across your design as much as you can, keeping the string taught. At first I tried to be really systematic in my stringing, but I just grew frustrated. I found it easiest to simply string the yarn randomly while still making sure I hit every nail at least once.
TIP! Because the nailheads are small, the yarn has a tendency to pop off the previous nail. If necessary, use a finger to hold the yarn on the previous nail while you wrap it around the next. Once you move on, the yarn will stay in place.
The more you string your yarn back and forth, the denser and more colorful your design will be. Keep weaving back and forth until you’re satisfied, then end up back where you started.
Before tying off the yarn, I suggest wrapping the yarn around the entire perimeter of the design. This just helps give a clearly defined border and solidifies the design a bit.
TIP! You don’t need to do anything fancy as you go around the perimeter, but it does help to go around the nail(s) at the corners/intersections before moving on. I just looped around that top center nail before going around the right side of the heart.
Once you get all the way around and back to where your original tail is…
This last step is optional but I think it makes a huge difference! Simply use some matching acrylic paint along the edges of the square plaque. There is no need to tape it off or make yourself crazy about it…just paint the edge for a splash of color!
Once they are stood up, the small bit of color makes a big impact!
Start-to-finish, this little heart design took me about 20 minutes…if that. The nailing is the longest and most tedious step but the stringing and painting take just minutes. Surely it would be longer for kids, but even Henry had his X-wing done in one sitting.
Even though the supplies are inexpensive and unassuming, the combination of the yarn design on the raw wood gives this project a really funky, modern, handmade-chic vibe. And by keeping the design small and using a single piece of yarn, this really is a quick little project…ideal for kids or the classroom, as well as a ladies’ craft night or as DIY gifts! I loved this DIY String Art project, and I can’t wait to adapt this project with other designs, and hope you give it a try too!
Happy crafting my friends!