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How to do letter nails

Introduction: String Art

I decided that I wanted to expand my art horizons and do something different, that not a lot of people see. String art! I’ve taught myself how to do this and would like to share with others. You need patience and time for this, but the end result will be worth it!

For this instructable I will show you the basics of how to make your own string art. We will start with something simple, like a word. I’m going to make the word “family” in string.

-Birchwood plywood (for the word family, my piece of wood is 20″ x 4″)

-Steel wire nails: size 1 x 18 (from Lowes)

-Craft paint (I used brown)

-Dmc floss from ACmoore (I picked basic white)

-A printed out template for nailing

-A towel (optional-for underneath the wood so the nails don’t nail into the table!)

Step 1: Paint

Paint your piece of wood with your acrylic paint (I chose brown).

Paint two coats.

Don’t forget the sides of the wood.

No need to paint the bottom of the wood.

Dry time: 20 minutes

Step 2: Template

Place your template on the wood where you want to nail it. I put mine centered equally.

Just use a few pieces of tape to secure the template on.

I posted the pdf file of the family template.

Attachments

Step 3: Nailing

Grab your steel nails, you are ready to start the nailing step.

Place your nail around the edge of the letter and hammer in place.

Do not nail too far down because you will go through the wood. Have about a half inch of the nail showing when you hammer it in.

For the rest of the nailing process, make sure to have an appropriate distance between each nail. About 3/4″ distance between the nails.

REMEMBER- we are nailing around the letter

Step 4: Remove Template

Once you’ve finished nailing, remove the template. Carefully pull the template up from the nails. Try not to pull so hard, or the nail will come out of the wood.

Discard the template.

Step 5: Knotting

You are now ready to string!

Knot your first nail. Know twice to keep string secure.

Step 6: Stringing

Once you’ve made your first knot, the next process you wrap the string around the next nail once and move on to the next nail to create an outline for the letter.

Keep doing this process until you get to the end of the letter and you clearly see an outline.

Step 7: Stringing (continued)

Once you get to the end of making the outline of the letter, start wrapping the string around random nails to fill up the space.

(You can crisscross the string) There is no specific way to do this, you just need to fill in the space.

After this process is done, knot the string twice on the last nail of that letter. Cut off excess string.

Step 8: Stringing (continued)

After this process is done and you filled up the letter, knot the string twice on the last nail of that letter.

Cut off excess string.

Repeat this process for all letters.

Step 9: Finished!

I decided to set this on my mantle. You can also hang this up anywhere, it’s a great home decor piece.

I also provided images of the other string arts I made using the same instructions and techniques!

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How to do letter nails

How to do letter nails

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How to do letter nails

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How to do letter nails

7 Comments

How to do letter nails

Nice, particularly the colourful one! Question: did you paint the string after placing it? Thanks!

How to do letter nails

Wonderful and so simple, I’m definitely doing that!

How to do letter nails

Awesome work! great instructions. Might give it a try very soon 🙂

How to do letter nails

And yes it is the first time I used this website!

How to do letter nails

Hey, I like this! I love the way the string appears to sort of float out in front of the board. That’s a neat, visually interesting effect.

First time author!? Your documentation is great. Please post more!

How to do letter nails

Reply 7 years ago

Thanks ! I appreciate that. This was actually a school project. We had to show the class a step by step instruction of something we created!

How to do letter nails

This is really nice, and so simple too! Great work!

Nails are important

Because your nails are important and can even help a doctor find out if you are healthy or not, it’s important to take good care of them. It’s not that hard. Here are some dos and don’ts of fingernail and toenail care.

How to do letter nails

Keep them short and clean

Keep them short and clean. Use a good nail clipper or a small nail scissors to cut them every week or two. If you let your nails get too long, they’re more likely to break and to get germs under them that can make you sick.

How to do letter nails

Cut them in the shape of the tip of your finger

Cut them in the shape of the tip of your finger, kind of straight across but a little round at the sides so they’re strong.

How to do letter nails

Cut your toenails straight across

Cut your toenails straight across, using a clipper designated for toenails. This will help prevent an ingrown toenail.

How to do letter nails

Emery board

Some people use a nail file or emery board (it looks like a popsicle stick with rough surfaces) to smooth the ends of their nails. Make sure that the file is not old and dull. It will work better if it is new. Rub it back and forth very gently along the end of your nail to remove any rough edges.

How to do letter nails

Ask for help

Ask your mom or dad for help if you don’t know how to cut your nails.

How to do letter nails

Dry your hands

Dry your hands really well after washing them, or getting them wet.

How to do letter nails

Use lotion

Rub lotion on your fingernails, especially when your hands feel dry.

How to do letter nails

Eat healthy foods

Eating a healthy balanced diet keeps your nails strong.

How to do letter nails

Change socks every day

Change your socks every day.

How to do letter nails

Wear flip flops

Wear flip flops in public showers and at the pool to prevent infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.

How to do letter nails

Don’t bite your nails

Don’t bite your nails or pick at the skin around your nails. It can cause an infection and it hurts, too!

How to do letter nails

Don’t pry or poke with your nails

Don’t pry or poke at things with your nails. This can damage them.

How to do letter nails

Don’t cut or push back the cuticles

Cut or push back the cuticles, the tiny sliver of skin where your nail grows out your finger. That can lead to infection.

How to do letter nails

Don’t use nail-polish remover more than twice a month

Don’t use nail-polish remover more than twice a month. It’s really hard on your nails.

How to do letter nails

Don’t use acrylic nails

Don’t use acrylic nails (artificial nails) as these can be very harmful to your nail and are not recommended.

How to do letter nails

Don’t wear shoes that are too tight

Don’t wear shoes that are too tight, which can cramp your toes.

How to do letter nails

Skin doctor = Dermatologist

If you are having problems with your nails, ask your parents to take you to a skin doctor (dermatologist).

Related AAD resources

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Those sweet little picturesque scenes painted across fingernails and posted all over Instagram are super easy to recreate with the right tools. All you really need are nail stamping plates, nail stamping polish, and a clear nail stamper. Of course, there are different accessories available that can make the job a lot easier, but these three items are really the most essential. If you’ve always stared at those flawless nail art designs with an envious eye wondering how it’s done, we can help you get started.

Step 1: Gather up the nail stamping plates and other supplies

This step is easily the most important. Once you get started, it’s important that all the required tools are at your fingertips. Once you start stamping, you’ll be having so much fun that you won’t want to interrupt the stamping flow for any reason. The items you’ll need (and probably want as well) include:

  • Nail stamping plates (one will do, but why stop there?)
  • At least one stamping polish
  • A Clear Jelly Stamper
  • A scraper
  • A bottle of PROtect (for maximum cuticle protection)
  • A top coat or top gel
  • A lint roller or tape (to clean the stamper head)
  • Nail polish remover (to clean to stamping plate)

Step 2: Prep the stamping supplies

To get yourself primed and ready for stamping, a little pre-stamping prep will go a long way. Here are a few things you can do before you get started:

  • Be sure to remove the blue film from any brand new plates
  • Make sure your nails are prepped and ready for some nail art
  • Make sure your supplies are clean and in good working condition
  • Ensure your nail polish remover is within arm’s reach, just in case

Step 3: Load up the stamper

Once the prep work is out of the way, it’s time to load an image onto the stamper. Apply a thin layer of stamping polish to the image of your choice on your stamping plate. Scrape off any excess nail polish while holding the scraper at a 45-degree angle.

Now for the tricky part – roll your stamper over the image lightly. Sometimes flicking the wrist slightly will help the transfer go smoother. It’s all right to practice a few times. You’ll want to make sure the image is crisp before applying it to your nail anyway. If any extra polish is lifted with the image, clear it away gently using the scraper, the lint roller, or a piece of tape.

Step 4: Now it’s time to stamp!

If the image sitting on top of your stamper looks good, go ahead and apply it to the nail of your choice, but be quick about it! It’s important to apply the image to your nail before the polish dries to the stamper.

And there you have it – a beautiful, stamped image worthy of an Instagram post.

Step 5: Become a stamping master

Now that you’ve got the hang of stamping, it’s time to master it. For a few more tips of the trade, check out our previous post: 9 Tips to Help You Master Stamping with Clear Stampers.

Build up your nail art design kit with super trendy stamping plates and polish from Clear Jelly Stamper. Besides the stamping basics, we have everything you need to create stunning nail art designs from the comfort of your living room.

How to do letter nails

In the late 60s and 70s, string art became a popular paint-by-numbers-y way for the masses to get crafty. Head to your local thrift store, and you’ll likely find a few, in all their harvest gold glory. Usually sold in kits, these guys involved strategically placed nails or pins that were connected by string or yarn to create geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns.

But, I’m not really into geometrical shapes or mathematical patterns. I’m into letters, so I decided to create some original string art with a typographic twist. It’s super fun, easy-to-make, and infinitely customizable. Plus, it’s my favorite kind of project, where the supplies come from both the craft shop and my local True Value hardware store (we’re a part of the 2011 True Value Blog Squad!).

Materials and Tools:

  • 1/2″ or 3/4″ plywood
  • 1 1/4″ flat head nails
  • Hammer
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Computer and printer or projector
  • String or yarn (I used embroidery thread)

How to do letter nails

1. Begin by designing your piece. I just went with a simple two word phrase, but you could go as complex as your want – somebody’s name, a quote you love, decor for a party or wedding. You want to do this first, so you’ll know what size your plywood needs to be.

How to do letter nails

2. Cut your wood or plywood to size. If you don’t have a saw, see if your True Value ‘hardwarian’ will help (they’re really friendly!). Also – get a saw! You’ll want to use actual wood here, as opposed to a composite product like MDF or hardboard, as those are really meant for glue, and won’t hold nails very well.

Since I knew I was going to use my overhead projector to transfer the image, I just printed the transparency, and used that to size an piece of plywood I had lying around, which I then cut to size. Mine ended up being 11 x 24″

How to do letter nails3. Paint or stain your wood. I knew I wanted to use this rainbow embroidery thread I’ve had since college, so I just went with a basic white. But a dark walnut-y stain with a bold yellow or turquoise would be awesome, so use your imagination.

How to do letter nails4. Next, create a pattern from your original art. I just printed onto an overhead transparency, since I have a projector I can use to transfer the image. (It pays to have parents who used to be teachers!) If you have a media or art projector, use that, or you can simply print out each letter onto a piece of paper or cardstock, cut them out, then use that to transfer your letters onto your wood. If you trust your hand, you could also just add the dots by hand, using a ruler or square to keep everything even.

Notice I’ve added the dots for each nail to my pattern, and that’s what I transfer to the plywood, instead of the outline of each letter. There really isn’t a science to this, and I admit, I just kinda made it up. Three things to keep in mind:

  • Add more dots than you might be inclined to, unless you’re going for a sparse-r look.
  • Curves need more nails than straight lines, so do those first, and then add dots to your lines in equal density.
  • Don’t make your dots perfectly parallel in rows. I learned this one the hard way, and will definitely adjust next time. You want a bit of variety, so that your “cross strings” won’t be perfectly straight.

How to do letter nails

5. Then transfer your dots onto you plywood. I used a bit of 1″ painter’s tape as a margin, to keep everything straight and square, as overhead projectors can distort an image at close distantances.

How to do letter nails

5. Then, start nailing. I recommend setting up somewhere tall, since it’s a lot of nails, and you’ll get tired and sore from bending over quickly. As far as depths – it’s not a science. Just hammer the first one in until it just dimples the back, then hammer it back the other way. That’s your depth. They won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t really affect the final result. Keep things as straight as you can, knowing you can adjust angles later.

This took me about two sessions of 20-25 minutes, taking a break in between.

How to do letter nails

6. Then, just string it up. Start in a corner, and tie it off with a butcher’s knot. At the beginning, don’t follow a pattern, but keep your crosses close. Once you’ve gone around once, you can make longer leaps up and down the letter. I found it useful to go all the way around the letter near the end, finishing by filling in any the “emptier” space. Try to avoid connecting the same two nails twice, as you can really tell when it’s doubled up. I probably made this a bit harder on myself by using the rainbow string, as I also had to account for a balance of the different colors, but the results were definitely worth it.

Also, once your string is on, you’ll probably notice some of your nails are a bit out of line. Just use a light tap with a hammer to line everything up.