With Christmas right around the corner we are all searching for that perfect gift to give our child’s teacher. There’s the coffee mug, the Starbucks gift card, and of course the classic gift basket. I don’t know about your child’s teachers, but C’s are PHENOMENAL! They have brought her leaps and bounds this year. I wanted to do something extra special for them, but, what? Although they all deserve a luxurious spa day, that was not in my budget! Off to Pinterest I went for some inspiration. Coffee cup, coffee cup, crayon art, wreaths, gift cards…. then bam, an apple string art! I located a local mommy friend and got a quote to have her do it for me. $45 each. Yikes! I was hoping for something around the $10 range that feels like it came from the $45 range! Then, I thought, “I can do this myself!” After a little youtubing’ blog reading, and pinterest surfing I was ready to teach myself how to diy string art!
My shopping trip was going to consist of The Home Depot and, my personal favorite, Joann’s Fabric and Crafts! Shopping list: Wood, nails, and string. That’s it. I also needed stain and rags to apply the stain, but I had those at home left over from previous projects.
When I got to The Home Depot I headed straight for the wood section. The Home Depot has a “scrap” wood cart that is 70% off. These are left over cuts from projects that other people had cut or just weren’t up to standards. You can usually find some really great treasures. Little tip- the best finds are usually on Mondays after everyone has worked out projects over the weekend.
I was able to snatch up a $15 piece of wood for just $3! I had them cut the wood plank into 5 pieces. (That’s enough for 5 gifts!) Next, I grabbed the nails (about $2.) I chose black and one inch nails for starters. The black would compliment the colors of string I had in mind for the apple, and the one inch nails gave me plenty of room to work with as a beginner.
Next stop, Joann’s. Because I subscribe to their emails and get text message updates, I had a 25% off my total purchase coupon!
I strolled back to the embroidery floss and grabbed two cherry reds and a leafy green. In hind sight, I should have grabbed a brown and did the stem in a different color than the leaves, but hey, beginners mistake! Because they are much easier to unravel and don’t get tangled up like the bundles, I grabbed a roll of each color rather than a bundle. The bundles get all tangled and you will spend half of your time fighting knots in the string and gritting your teeth with frustration. Spend the extra money. Save some sanity. Get the rolls! The string was the most expensive part. Three at $2.59 each came out to be about $6 after my 25% off coupon and taxes.
1 inch black nails
string in colors needed
computer (google and paint/word art)
old towel or something to work on
favorite music to work to.
Once I had all of my supplies ready my first step was to stain the wood. I love a dark stain, and I had some left over from when I made my kitchen table, so it was perfect. If you have never stained wood before, it is super simple! Dip your rag in the stain, rub it on the wood, and wipe until its no longer wet. Let the first coat dry, then apply as many coats as you’d like to achieve your desired level of darkness. I personally love the wood look, so I only did one coat on this project.
Now for the fun part- googling! Whatever type of design you are working on you want to find a very simple outline. I searched for “apple outline.” After a few minutes of scrolling I found the perfect one. If at all possible you want it to be an outline with out shading or color so to save your ink. I saved the image, opened it to word, stretched it, and made my page margins as small as possible so that I could get a large image. Edited to add- I later learned that I was doing it the hard way. I now open my images in paint and print on pages 2×2 so that I can be in full control over how large of an image I want. This will take a little playing with on your behalf. I usually resize to 75% for most images, then print 2×2 and its perfect. This may not work for everyone.
After I print my image out I cut away all excess paper so that I can see the edges of the board and know exactly where to and not to hammer. Align it in the center of the board, and tape down your edges so that it doesn’t move when you begin to hammer.
This was my first project, so I hadn’t learned all of the little tricks, yet. Originally, I taped it down, then put a nail in each corner to secure it, then hammered in one nail at a time directly across from another nail as to make sure everything was even and neat…. Don’t do this! It is a waste of time. Start with your inner most nails and just go in a circle spacing them about a thumbs length apart. Then, go to your second inner most circle and do the same. Repeat. Repeat, until you are done. This way you don’t “hammer yourself into a corner” where its hard to squeeze your fingers into an area to hold the nail. You WILL end up hammering your thumb and man does that hurt! All of the nails do not have to be perfectly spaced apart and even. Just make sure they are hammered deep enough into the wood so that they don’t pop out or wiggle when you start wrapping string. Try to get them all at equal depths as possible. Once you are done hammering it will look something like this…
Now, take the paper and gently rip it all away from the nails. There really is no right or wrong way to do this part. Just rip it out then use the tweezers to get all the little pieces that were left behind.
After this, take your string and make a little loop to secure the nail in. You will then begin to loop and wrap, loop and wrap in a zigzag pattern back and forth between all of the nails. I like to go over the whole thing once in one direction, back over again in a different direction, then go across. You can do it any way you like. Remember to keep the tension in the string, or it will slip off the nails and you will have to undo and redo a lot of work- which is a pain! Once you are satisfied with how full your image is, you want to outline it. This not only helps define your image, but it secures the string in place so that it won’t slip off. Just wrap around the nails and always go on the outside of the nail with your wrap, like so… You can go as basic as you want with your border, or as intense as you want. I like to put an outline border on some of mine, then go back and go inside, outside, inside, outside back and forth around the whole image to give it a little depth. You will learn to play with it and make each piece your own.
In recap- $3 for wood (5 pieces), $3 for nails, and $6 for string. For just $12 I was able to purchase enough supplies to make 5 teacher gifts! That is just over $2 a piece for a gift that they could tell put time, thought, and love into… thankfully no blood. But I sure did get myself with that hammer a time or ten! Ouch! But, the final product was worth it and all of her teachers loved it! PS: I even got a couple of orders for string art from local friends which paid for my supplies, plus some! Win win!
“Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere” -Anonymous