So what the heck is String Art?

Basically, it's string strung between nails that have been hammered into wood. But that's like saying that painting is just pigments applied to canvas. :)

An art form more associated with the 70's, it's really unique unto itself. Aside from being able to make patterns with the nails themselves, using the geometry of the string, arcs, and moire patterns can be quite tantalizing to the eye. Add nice nails and creative stringing materials, and you can get some pretty nice works.

I Saw my first work over a parents' friend's house. Being the mathematical/artistic kind of guy, I thought "I could so that", and so I did. The next weekend I spray painted some wood black, hammered in a design and made some patterns with thread. After getting in trouble for using dads nails and moms thread, they admitted it looked pretty good.

So for the next 10 years or so I made a variety of different works. Some from patterns in books, some from kits (yes, they sold kits for this), and some are my own design. The pics below are some samples that were captured.

Unfortunately, string art is a more fragile artistic medium. String doesn't last forever, nails tarnish, and darned if the things don't attract dust like there's no tomorrow. Very few of the works have survived to this day. I still like to make an occasional piece, but finding an apartment where they don't mind incessant banging can be a challenge. :)

I have to say, with some amazement, that this page has become extremely popular. I've received over a dozen e-mails requesting information about string art.

So while I don't mind answering some questions, I hope I'm not inundated. If I can find some time I'll had a little 'how to' page to this. Until then, I've set up a little FAQ page where some of the questions that have been sent to me can be answered. In the FAQ there are also some useful links I've found while surfing the net.

In the mean time, I have to say

I love all the interest my pages have generated, but I really don't have a secret stash of kits or vendors :) If you found this page, I suggest keep searching the internet and see what few kits or patterns you might be able to find on ebay, amazon, or any other place on the net.

Again, thank you for all the accolades on my designs, but again, I cannot give out patterns for the items on these pages. They are either copyrighted by other people, or they are my original designs, and the patterns have been lost over time. Once you get the hang of string art, you should be able to re-create any design you see here from the pictures.

I've also made a Yahoo! e-mail group so we can chat and place some String Art resources

Now, in no particular order

The Works...

Click on any picture for a larger image. Items are still being added. Some of the pieces are scanned from 20 year old photos, so be kind.
Copper String Art Clock picture
Copper Clock

One of my nicest pieces, a clock for the living room. My own design, this clock is made with brass nails and 'strung' with copper wire, giving it the nice metallic look. The clock did indeed operate.
Camel String Art picture

This is another of my own design. A roommate at the time loved camels, so I came up with this diddy. It's made with beige nails and brown thread. The 'fur' is tan wool, fluffed with a wire brush.
Abstract String Art picture
Paisley Gone Mad

One of many 'abstract' designs - art for arts sake if you will. This was made for the companion for the roommate of the camel (also my roommate). I went with a blue color scheme to match the room decor. Design was just something freehand I came up with. Aside from 'filling in the circles' with string, you will notice there are additional nails and designs within some of the paisleys - not something seen often in string art.
Abstract String Art picture
Web Abstract

Another abstract design. One of my first in self design. This is silver nails with a silver-sparkily coasted string. What is lost in the photo is the third dimension. The two upper webs are of three different heights, giving the webs a 3D look.
Abstract String Art picture
Verigated Tangents

Another self-designed piece. While not too 'exciting', the different string arcs provide some illusion, with the juxposition of different overlapping shapes. This was actually string with a verigated white/yellow string.
Abstract String Art picture
[[second mantle pic]]

One of my largest pieces. This abstract was made for my aunt to hang over her mantle. Another abstract of my own design - I like the geometry of this one. The overlay of the shapes defined by the nail lines, vs the shapes filled in with thread. Again, the photo doesn't give you the depth of the work. It is about 1.5" from nail head to felt - and each color has it's own level, so the corners have a 'bowl-like' look to them. The horizontal designs on either side of the main diamond also step up from felt level to nail level as they move into the piece.
Abstract String Art picture

One of my early pieces taken from a string art book. (Lack of straight nail alignment is a giveaway... :) This is a good example of some of the simple shapes attained by different stringing methods.
Abstract String Art picture

Another abstract piece taken form a book. The main design is a flowing curve in the center, almost invisible, connecting the two fanned endpoints. For this piece the lower layer is a thick thread covered with a sparkily silver coating. The upper layer is just a colored thread.
Abstract String Art picture
Vertical Waves

A self-designed piece. Part of the experimental phase - I had the scrap wood and wanted to something a little more interesting. An interesting flair on top, with the large common nail providing the anchor for the missing cut.
Abstract String Art picture
Aqua Eye

A abstract piece from a string art book. I used the viridian green and turquoise to give it a deep sea feel. Again, this is a nice example of how two rows of nails can be string in quite different ways
Butterfly String Art picture
Butterfly 1

The first of several self-designed butterflies. It's been a while, but I remember seeing a picture of a butterfly drawn on some wrapping paper, and that gave me the inspiration for this style design.
butterfly String Art picture
Butterfly 2

This is a butterfly design I did for my aunt. Unlike the other bright orange butterfly, I went with some more subdued colors here to go with her home. I also adventured into some more interesting 'markings' than just plain circles in this butterfly.
Butterfly String Art picture
Butterfly Kit

This is a store bought kit that I did. It's been so long I can't recall any more info.
sailboat string art picture
Sail boat

My own design. After doing some other ships (below) I got the idea of how sails and all should look in string art and went forth in my own design. Since I wanted this to look totally like a shadow, I used black nails, so they would blend in with the black thread.
sailboat string art picture
Ship Kit 1

1 of 2 ship kits I did in my youth. It was kinf of anoying, as there were so many nails, and not too much string connecting them. A lesson in patience I suppose. :-)
sailboat string art picture
Ship Kit 2

The companion to the above kit
car string art picture

It's not pretty, but it's the start. This is my very first string art kit. And I hated it. :) I have to stay,it sat onthe shelf half donw for a year or more. It was way too much work to not only hammer all the nail sin, but get them in straight (it shows, doesn't it). But I eventually got it done, and it did look nice. Things just took off from there.
couple string art picture

This is form a pattern in a string art book. Thought it was neat for the nails to make a pic, and just use string as the outline.
Fan leaf string art picture

Back to abstract. This pattern was taken from a string art book. A nice illustration of making a shape with the string that isn't apparent by just looking at the nails.
Owl string art picture

Another pattern taken form a string art book. It was a cute pattern, so I made quite a few out of many different materials. This isn't the best owl I made, but it's the only surviving picture.
Peacock string art picture

One of the nicer kits that I have come across. Nice design, colors, and multi-dimentional. So nice I kept the pattern after I was done to re-create it in the future.
Mirror string art picture
Mirror 1

The first in a series of mirrors I enhanced with a bit of string art. This a basic mirror with a string frame. So I wouldn't get in trouble, I have erased Mom and her bad perm from the reflection. :)
Mirror string art picture
Mirror 2

Second in a series of mirrors. I Had access to some irregularly shapped mirrors, so I used that to a bit of an advantage.
Mirror string art picture
Mirror 3

Third and most interesting in the 'mirror' series. thi is 'scrap mirror with scrap wood',leading to a rather unique piece. Yes, the securing points for the string in the upper left are behind the mirror. And a thumb tack providing a very visible ancor inside a double fan on the upper right.
Spider plant string art picture Plants string art picture
Spider plants

A spider plants and two house plants; both from kits. Although it loks nice, it was a lot of nails for so little string.
Train string art picture

Another of my early kits. As well as liking trains myself, it's a interesting kit due to the added bits of hardware. Although it adds somethign interesting, I never thought to add other 'things' to my self designed pieces.
Train string art picture

This is actually the duplication of a kit. The store was going out of business, and they had this piece, assembled but damaged, for a cheap price. So I picked it up, copied the pattern, and then made a 'good' one for myself.
Train string art picture
Corner Shelf

Decided to have a little fun here with a no-longer-used corner shelf...
string art flowers string art flowers

One of the more unique forms for string art I've had the pleasure of. Found this 'pattern' in a book. The flowers are made by creating three different sizes of springs, forming the springs into a loop, and stringing them. Each petal is then assembled into the stem, and there you have it.
string art business card [Return to John's Home page] ,      [Return to John's Bio page],      [Return to John's Hobby page]

John McLachlan

last update: March, 2003