Saturday, May 25, 2013

String Art Portrait Plaques

Looking for a craft project to do over the long weekend? How about making a string art portrait plaque (or 3!)?

These plaques are super cute, easy, and surprisingly quick to put together! I was inspired by a tutorial I saw on the Country Living website, but wanted to put my own twist on the idea. Since my living room has a lot of beautiful wood in it, I decided to stain my plaques rather than paint them. I also thought it would be pretty cute to make one of Buddy, one of Hank, and one of myself, so I created my own templates.

Creating a template can be done relatively simply in Photoshop using your own pictures, but if you want something quick you are welcome to use the ones I made, which can be found here. They will need to be scaled accordingly for whatever size plaque you choose.

Now, on to making them! You will of course need some supplies:
Wood plaque, wood stain or paint of your choice, hammer, art template, 3/4" nails, waxed cord, rag, sponge brush (not pictured), scissors (not pictured, but come on, you have 'em handy, right? You're crafting!).
Begin the process by staining your plaque. I bought a Walnut colored Soy Stain, which worked great! The directions recommended applying the stain with a cloth, but I found the easiest way to apply it to this plaque was to brush it on with a sponge brush and then rub off any excess stain with my rag. I really loved the way the color came out and found the stain dried fairly quickly.
While your plaque dries, cut out your template. When the plaque is dry, place your template and tape it down. Be sure to use a 
relatively un-sticky tape so you don't inadvertently remove any of the stain when you remove the tape!
Now you'll need to hammer in the nails around the perimeter of your template. If you have any areas with more detail, I would recommend starting with those. For a larger template place nails approximately 1/4-1/2" apart. For a smaller template, place nails approximately 1/8-1/4" apart. They don't need to be perfect, but you'll want to space them as evenly as possible.

My many years of staring at sewing rulers and tiny seam allowances have gotten me pretty used to eyeballing things, but if you're not comfortable doing that, feel free to use a ruler to mark the nail placements before placing your template.
Once you've hammered nails in around the perimeter of your template, remove it! It's string time!

Begin by tying a knot around one of the nails. I chose the one at the base of the design. Then take the cord and bring it to the next nail (you can go on the inside or the outside of the design), pull taut, then loop the cord around the nail, and repeat for each nail until you've completed the other shape of the design.

Admittedly I did my first plaque with the cord to the inside, then tried the next one with the cord to the outside and found that I slightly preferred the look of that one. Live and learn! I still think either way looks great.
Once the outline is complete, it's time to fill in the middle of the design! To do this, just continue pulling the cord taut and looping it around nails, but this time do it randomly, creating lines that go from one side to another (top to bottom! Left to right! Upper right to lower left! Etc!).
At some point while you're filling in the middle, you'll think to yourself, "Golly this looks good!" and then you'll probably keep going for a little longer, and then you'll think to yourself "Golly, this looks less good." If that happens, feel free to undo a few of your lines, which is fortunately very very easy. When you've achieved a design that YOU like, cut the cord (leaving enough excess to tie a knot), tie it around the nail and trim the ends.
Guess what! You're done! Wasn't that easy? Since I stained all my plaques at once, once that was done, I was able to turn out all three of these in about an hour.
Now all that you need to do is figure out where you want to put them. Want to hang em on your wall? Get some of these, nail them into the back of your plaque and hang away! Want to display them on a mantle or on top of a cabinet? Well, you could lean them, but WOAH precarious! So you could get some of these and make a fancy little display that isn't about to fall over at any given time.

I'll be hanging mine in my living room near the front door. I can't wait to get them up!

Til next time!


P.S! If you haven't heard, Craftgawker and Whimseybox are holding a challenge right now! The submitted projects that receive the most "Favorites" on Craftgawker will have a chance to have their project turned into a DIY kit with Whimseybox! Super cool right? Well, yours truly has entered, so if you are feeling generous help a sister out by favoriting my String Art Project on Craftgawker!


  1. This project is so great. I don't know where i'd put one of these in my condo, but I want to make one anyways!

  2. Those are so cool! I used to be obsessed with string art! I'm definitely going to try and make one soon.

    1. Thanks! I go in and out of obsessions with string art, too. I hope it turns out great!

      By the way, I took a look at your etsy page and LOVE the jewelry you're making! Is it sold anywhere in the Seattle area?