“I mean, give me a guitar, give me a piano, give me a broom and string, I wouldn’t get bored anywhere.”

— Keith Richards

I am right there with ya, Keith! Recently I’ve been obsessed with string art. A few weeks ago a friend mentioned she was considering a craft project for a group of fourth-graders using stained wood, thread or yarn, and nails with heads to create a design or image. I couldn’t help falling in love with the simplicity of this craft project. I was immediately transported back to my childhood and the memory of black velvet string art hanging on many living room walls.

It is believed that string art originated as a tool to make math equations more interesting to children, according to stringartfun.com. The first recorded use of straight lines to form curves was by Englishwoman Mary Everest Boole (1832-1916). This was called “curve stitching.” In 1909, Boole published a book called Philosophy & Fun of Algebra.

I don’t think of string art and algebra in the same thought, but I do remember a lot of intricate string sails on ships and Spirograph-style artwork back in the day. This string art project seems simpler and perhaps has a broader appeal to all age groups depending on the chosen design. For younger kids you may want to hammer the nails yourself, choose a simple line art image, and use small or no strand twine or yarn. Spacing the nails out to about 1 inch will also make it easier for little hands.

We did a pumpkin because it is appropriate for the season. It will have a happy place on the mantel through Thanksgiving this year. However, I’m already strategizing the green Christmas tree with a gold star on top, or the giant monogram for the newlywed’s gift, or the pretty pink heart for Valentine’s Day. So much fun!

We loved this project because including sourcing the wood (which meant having grandpa scrounge through his salvage pile) and the quick shopping trip for embroidery floss, this craft was done in just a few hours.

Pumpkin string art

  • 9-inch square piece of
  • stained wood
  • masking tape
  • 60-80 nails, 3/4- to 1-inch long
  • with heads
  • 2 skeins each of two shades of orange embroidery floss
  • 1 skein of green embroidery floss
  1. Print or draw your desired image onto a piece of white paper.
  2. Secure the image to the wood board with a piece of masking tape.
  3. Hammer the nails along the lines outlining the image, sinking the nails in at least one-quarter inch and placing them at least one-half inch apart. Tear the paper away.
  4. Depending on where you start – the pumpkin or the stem – choose orange or green embroidery floss. Tie the thread to first nail with double knot. Start stringing the colored embroidery floss between the nails however you like. Ours was random with no pattern. Continue until you are satisfied with the string coverage. We used two shades of orange to give the pumpkin some interest. The green floss is done the same way for the stem.
  5. Keep in mind, you may wish to occasionally knot your string to one of the nails so that if tension is lost, you won’t lose your entire design.