After Shelton blew my socks off last week with my early Valentine’s Day gift, I was so excited to surprise him with a homemade piece of art straight from my heart. I’ve been looking for something to put over our bed, but nothing I found while perusing Etsy (or Pier One for that matter) seemed to fit us. When this happens, I know the only solution is to brainstorm a project and do it myself. Once the notion of string art entered my mind… the wheels started turning and well, here we are.
What does “same boat” mean? Glad you asked. Same boat is mine and Shelton’s personal relationship mantra. No matter where we are in life or what’s going on, we always say that we’re forever in the same boat. It’s a simple touchstone, but that’s all I need when the waters get rocky. Same boat means he’s right there with me, that we’re in it together no matter what “it” is.
So yeah. That’s why I couldn’t find what I wanted at Pier One. I needed it to be this personal.
Before creating your own string art, please read my notes at the end of this post.
You will need: a cork board (whatever size you like), acrylic paint, 11/16″ wire nails, and embroidery thread.
Painting the cork is optional, but it reinforces the texture of the cork and also gives it a finished look.
I highly recommend anchoring your letters. It makes moving it very easy if you need to and just keeps everything in line.
I call this picture The Final Nail.
Time to start wrapping. I wish I could tell you there was a pattern to making it look awesome and crazy and random… but there isn’t. Once you double knot your thread on the first nail, just go to town with it. And even though this is a haphazard process… it is not a fast one. Prepare to spend the most time on the first letter and you will get faster as you go. When I was finished with one letter I always looped around each nail to give the letters a straight edge.
Progress. Tying off a letter is a bit tricky. Basically, when you’re done looping around each nail, pull the thread towards you with tension (to keep the letter from unraveling) and…
…while still holding the thread tight with your left hand, loop the end of the thread behind the nail you finished on and pull it through.
Double knot and carefully snip away the ends.
The finished product.
I have a confession to make. This is the most moving project I have ever completed. Something about it really speaks to me – not just our same boat message – something more. It inspires me greatly, to the point where I want to make more. Lots more. I think most of us work hard to stay inside the lines and make a perfect life, but life is never perfect. It’s a tangled, wonderful, undeniable mess. And I’ve learned that through my relationship with Shelton. To really appreciate the messiness of life, because it’ll never be all-the-way clean.
Shelton really liked it, too. Okay, that’s a lie. He loved it.
Project Notes & Sources of Inspiration:
- Your message/design will determine just how much nails and thread you need, so think about that while shopping. I ended up buying extras of everything, which chalked up to three boxes of nails and three skeins of each thread color. I only used one and a half boxes of nails and one skein of thread per color. So, I could’ve saved a little bit of dough, but then again these are not what you call expensive supplies.
- I referenced a couple other string art DIYs and they called for linoleum nails, but I couldn’t find any at Walmart. I settled on wire nails but wish that I would have chosen nails with bigger, wider heads. This would have helped the process for two reasons: 1) at times it was tricky keeping the thread secured under such a small nail head while wrapping it and 2) literally for days after I completed this project my pointer finger (the one I used to primarily pin the nails) hurt like it had been burned. Painful!
- I will do another string art project in the future, but plan on adjusting the process. For instance, using another material over cork, different nails, a hammer, etc.
- DIY String Art Tutorial by Honey & Fitz
- String Art For A Beachy Room by Creative In Chicago