This flower string art project is an easy introduction to smoothing wood using rasps and sandpaper, as well as practicing hammering nails. Students can personalize their projects by choosing which designs and colours to use while creating their flowers. For more advanced students, or as an extension of these basic skills, see our "nail and string art" project, which introduces more complex designs in a similar context. Full credit to Jen Alberring and Alyssa Ellison from School District 63 for the idea and photographs; thanks for sharing your project!
Tools & Materials
- Flat wood, any type, approx 3/4" x 4" x 10"
- scrap piece of wood for sanding block
- cloth rag
- scrap piece of wood or cardboard, larger than wood base
- wood stain
- simple flower outline template
- optional: tape
- one large-headed nail
- 20+ finishing nails
- string or yarn, various colours, 3'+
- sawtooth hanger and mini nails to secure to project
- Safety glasses
- vice and/or c-clamps
- block plane and/or spokeshave
- flat rasp
- sand paper (various grits 80-120)
- paint brush
- workshop table or scrap piece of wood larger than project base
- ruler or speed square
Use a damp cloth rag to remove any wood dust from the wood base.
Outside, or in a well-ventilated area, place your wood base on a scrap piece of wood or cardboard. Paint the wood stain onto the wood base, making sure to drain any excess stain off the brush by running the brush up along the inner rim of the can each time you dip it. Allow to dry and apply a second coat, if you choose.
Put on your safety eyewear. If you need to, place your project on a scrap piece of wood to protect the table top you're working on (just in case your nails go all the way through).
If your flower design has a central point, hammer the larger-headed nail through the template and into your wood base. Try not to hammer the nails more than about three-quarters of the way through the wood base, or they might poke out the back of your project. Hammer a finishing nail in at each corner or line intersection on your template. Try to make the nails poke out straight up and all at the same height (about 1/2" to make space for yarn loops).
You can create different designs depending on how you weave your yarn over the same nail pattern. Experiment with your design, removing the yarn and relooping it until you have a pattern you like. Continue weaving until you have at least three loops on each outer nail; this creates depth in your flower. You may need to push the yarn loops down as you go to make room for more yarn.
Use templates or improvise with your nail placement to add additional flowers, stems, leaves, etc, after your initial flower is finished. Remember to wear eye protection while you are hammering. Try to utilize the whole wood base for your design, making sure the nails are no closer than about 1/2" to the edge of the wood.
Measure the width of your wood base and divide that number by 2. Make a dot at this dimension along the horizontal line you drew, this should be at the centre of your project. Line up the middle of your sawtooth hanger over this dot, and make sure the holes in the hanger line up with the horizontal pencil line.
Choose a place to hang your finished piece! Ask an adult to help you hammer a nail into the wall to hang the sawtooth hanger on.
Shape and smooth the wood base
Stain the wood base
Create the flower design
Add the hanger
- Try our "nail and string art" project using a more complex base design and more nails.
- Instead of a flower, try using the same techniques to spell out a word, or draw an animal, etc.
- Use many different colours of yarn and build up the loops on your nails to create a 3D effect. Research in books or online to see what kinds of designs and effects are possible with string art.
- Build a 3D structure or frame to place your nails on to create even more depth and intricacy to your project.
- Instead of nails, have students drill holes through the base and thread the string through for a needlepoint effect.
- Design a template and choose accurate yarn colours based on pictures of actual flowers.