Copper Clock String Art

String Art FAQ

As you read on my main String Art page, String Art was a hobby of mine in the late 70's/early 80's. Not that it's not a hobby now, I just haven't made any pieces in quite a while. (who knows what making these web pages might inspire).

I've gotten a lot of questions mailed to me since I've put these pages up, and I thought I'd answer some of the questions here, to help out all the up and coming artists...

Feel free to e-mail me any questions you don't see here but would like a hand with!

Some internet links

What is String Art?

Hmmm. big question. In this context, it's artwork made by stringing thread between nails to make patterns and designs. Well, that's the general definition I suppose. As you can see by the artwork on my string art page, that definition can be stretched any way you wish.

String art had it's hey-day in the 1970's, which is kind of a shame. It's a great and unique art medium,l that got swept out the door along with wood paneling and bell bottoms. Although this rumor is being dispelled, as a lot of people seem to be finding my string art pages, so perhaps we have a renewed interest.

How do I do string art?

Well, pick a pattern, get your materials and go to it! :-)

Unfortunately, since there aren't kits out there, it's tough to break into string art on your own. My best advice is to experiment on your own, until you feel comfortable with the process,and what nail patterns will make what kind of patterns.

I would suggest making a square or circle, spacing the nails evenly. String between in many different ways, seeing what kind of patterns arise from different stringing methods. Get a feel for the process. Move on to irregular shapes and/or irregularly spaced nails. Also, look at my pieces and the works of others - not just from an 'art' point of view, but with a technical eye. See the different shapes you get from various nail and string combinations. Pretty soon you'll feel comfortable designing your own pieces!

What kind of materials should I use?

As you can tell by seeing some of my pieces, you can use whatever you want to make string art. I even string onto springs to make flowers and earrings! But here are some basics to get you started


Being you need nails to string around, wood is a nice medium to hammer nails into. :-) Any wood will do in a bind, but from experience - particle board seems to work best. Regular woods sometimes work, but be careful - use soft woods like pine and your nails will become loose. The same will happen with a wood that has too much grain. hard woods will stop this, but it may be tough hammering the nails in. Remember, for big pieces you're hammering in 200-300 nails in, close together, at the same height. Plywood can be used, but often the glues used are again too hard for 'string art' nails. particle board is easy to hammer into, and has no grain to loosen the nails. The biggest drawback is that it's physically heavy.


You usually cover the wood before hammering and stringing. I've found felt to be one of the better background materials. it's got a nice texture, and isn't 'shiny'. Really, any material will do for your needs, just make sure you use a material without a grain, as you don't want little tears showing up at your nail holes.


Ahhh yes, nails. The biggest question, and the hardest to answer. There are three things to look for when selecting a nail - size, look, and head.

The nails will be going into the wood about 1/2 inch deep. Then determine how much nail you want sticking out to work with. A small single dimension project might use nails 1 to 1.5 inch in total length, while a large '3D' project the nails might be 3" long. You usually will want slender nails, whatever length. You don't and a very 'thick' nail, as it will be a pain to nail them close together and string them.

The head of the nail provides two purposes in string art. One is to keep the string from falling off. bang all nails have some kind of head, even if you use 'brad' nails you should be all set. The second purpose is looks - the larger the head, the more visible the nail will be in the finished work. Look at some sample pieces and see if you can tell how the nail head impacts the look of the work you choose.

The final is the look of the nail. Not all nails are the grey things you find in home depot (although they work just fine). but, there are times when a fancy or colored nail would enhance your project. Check out specialty, craft, or other out of the way stores for nails. They used to have silver or gold plated nails. Even home depot - look for paneling nails - they used to come in all kinds of colors - rose, gold, turquoise...


OK, the final part. What do you string this baby with. Again, you can use anything you want! :) Most common and cheapest is sewing thread. It's cheap, available in a lot of colors, and does the job. A lot of my work was done with thread. (String Art is also called Thread Design in some books for this reason.)

The only drawback is that thread is thin, and this may not give your work enough body. Again, check craft and hobby stores for other kinds of materials. Crochet thread comes in colors, and is a little thicker than thread. yarn is a bit thick, but can be used for effect. My clock is string with copper wire!

Hope this gives you a great starting off point!

Where can you find string art kits?

To be honest, I have no clue. The only small selection of kit sellers is at one of the links above. The last big selection of kits I remember are going on 20 years ago, back when American Handicrafts was still around. There aren't too many 'hobby' stores around any more, and most of the craft stores here in the Boston area don't carry kits any more.

A visitor pointed out that ebay has become a place to find kits and books on occastion. Check it out for yourself at

If anyone knows where more kits can be found, drop me a line...

Where can you find books on string art?

Look around. Most libraries still have string art books in their stacks. Searching on Amazon or other internet book sellers still turn up a hit or two. I'm not sure how many local bookstores will carry them - I'm not even sure if any have been written in years.

A visitor pointed out that ebay has become a place to find kits and books on occastion. Check it out for yourself at

Where can you get string art patterns?

That's a toughie. If you find string art books, many contains patterns that you can copy. Other than that, once you get familiar with string art, you should have no problem design your own patterns, whether they be a design of somethign real, or your own personal abstract.

People also ask if they my copy some of the works I have on my pages. The answer depends on what you are doing.

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John McLachlan

last update: March, 2003