State String Art: Twelve Weeks of Christmas, Week 12

Welcome to the final installment of…

The Twelve Weeks of Christmas!


This is it!  With Christmas coming this Sunday (What?!  No really!), I have one last DIY tutorial for an easy, versatile, and cheap — did I mention it was cheap? — gift idea.

String art!

So, rewinding… here’s my Etsy inspiration (just to reiterate, this is inspiration — I did not make this one):

(click on image for original source)

Well, I saw this pic (and its sky high price tag) and thought “I could make one of those!”

… and I did:

Tennessee nail string art

In case you’re wondering… or maybe your U.S. geography is a bit rusty… or you haven’t seen that TV show How the States Got Their Shapes (it’s a good one!), this is Tennessee.  I made this one for my father, who is a Tennessee native as well as a HUGE Tennessee football fan (thus the orange background).  The heart represents Knoxville, which is his hometown as well as the college town.  Once I set out to do this project, it only took about three hours and it was surprisingly easy.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • A piece of wood
  • Small nails (short length)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Embroidery string
  • Hammer
  • Pliers (optional)
  • Patience (at first)

How to Make it:

First, I got a piece of wood.  I actually found this one at Michael’s for about $10 (they make these with beveled edges and in various sizes and shapes).  Looking back, that was not the penny-pinching-est option, but I was strapped for time, so… ya know.

(Later the same day I found THE cheapest option and kicked myself immediately: a wooden cutting board!  And I totally saw the PERFECT size at a local Dollar Store for three bucks.  Ah well… next time.)

Then I added two layers of Tennessee orange paint to the board and let it dry (I just used an acrylic-in-the-bottle-nothing-fancy paint.)

Next, I Google Image searched for a picture of the state of Tennessee.  I found this one and printed it out (I had to use two sheets of paper to appropriately fit my piece of wood).

Then, I cut it out to make a stencil — because you KNOW I’m not about to sketch/free hand that thing.  Uh uh.

I traced around the edges lightly, and then…


Hammer time.

(Sometimes the hammer and nails did not do exactly what I wanted them to and in those cases, I just manipulated the nails a bit with pliers and re-hammered.)


Or halfway there.

The next part actually made me so nervous, my palms got clammy.  I know… weird.  But I get really anxious about these kinds of things!

However, once I started going, it was SUPER easy (just the getting started part I had to get over).

I tied the string to an outside point, then began looping it from the heart to the state lines.  I used ONE CONTINUOUS PIECE OF STRING (I didn’t cut it, I just held it in my hand as I looped it around).

Given the nature of this particular shape, each nail in the heart held many outside points, so don’t worry if you use the same inside heart nail for 10+ loops (as long as you don’t think it will pop off if brushed accidentally).

Here’s the finished product one mo’ ag’in:

tennesse string art nail

I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I’m pretty pleased with it (and now I’ll know for the next time).

As you can see, I signed it — I was giving it to my dad after all — and used a metallic silver Sharpie.  I also used the same Sharpie to color each nail head and add a thin silver line around the beveled edges.  This was not really necessary, but sometimes I can’t be stopped when I’ve got a Sharpie in my hand.  (Josh finally had to reign me in — his exact words were “You’ve done enough.  Put the Sharpie down, Courtney!”)

Hey — let’s look at some more pictures of it!  This time, different angles…  Go Tyra Tennessee!

tennesse string art nail

tennesse string art nail

tennesse string art nail

tennesse string art nail

For a grand total of $12 and 3 hours spent, I have a project that I’m excited about AND that my dad loves!

P.S. — Yes, my dad reads this blog, but he has already received this as an early Christmas gift.  He came to visit this past weekend, and posed with the problem of safely wrapping it for his suitcase on the plane, I decided just to give it to him early and enlist his excellent engineering skills to solve this problem.  Something about cardboard and a platform???  I don’t know… I let him figure it out.  :)


Check out what you may have missed…

The Twelve Weeks of Christmas


24 thoughts on “State String Art: Twelve Weeks of Christmas, Week 12

  1. The string art of the state of Tennessee is wonderful!! You did an amazing job, your Daddy will love it and even more so since you made it for him! Keep up your wonderful blog ideas!

  2. Pingback: Handmade Gifts (and other reasons I’m patting myself on the back right now) « The Ginger Penny Pincher

  3. Pingback: Handmade Gifts, Part 2 (still patting myself on the back) « The Ginger Penny Pincher

  4. Pingback: Wordles = Free DIY Typography Art! « The Ginger Penny Pincher

  5. Pingback: Valentine’s DIY Printable (No Photoshop required!) | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  6. Pingback: Things That (P)inspire Me: Words, words, words… | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  7. Pingback: Things that (P)inspire Me: Heart Shaped Loveliness | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  8. Pingback: 6 Month Blog-iversary! | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  9. Thanks for the step by step instructions! They were extremely helpful :). I did NC since that’s where I live! I graduated from Appalachian State University, so to change mine up a bit, I put my <3 in Boone. Turned out better than I expected! Thanks for sharing your ideas :)

  10. Pingback: The Orange Dog | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  11. Pingback: Bouncy Balls and Pantyhose | The Ginger Penny Pincher

  12. I actually didn’t have any problems with that in either of my state art projects. I used a nice bamboo cutting board for one and I used a precut piece of beveled wood that I got from Michael’s for the other. I know little about carpentry or wood, but I assume it was because of the quality of wood? I also used small nails? I hope that helps! Good luck!

  13. Hi! I love this project and I’m planning on making this for my best friend who moved to Alabama. I just have a few questions:

    1. What type of string did you use and where did you get it?
    2. Did you get silver nails or just color over them with silver sharpie?

  14. It was just a thick sort of string that I got at Michael’s (though I don’t think it really matters). The nails were already silver, but I chose to color the tips with the silver Sharpie. Totally unnecessary, but it added a little texture… Whatever :)

    Good luck and happy crafting! (Alabama is where I grew up — I lived in Mobile for 16 years!)

    Thanks for reading!


  15. Pingback: Christmas Jubilee | The Ginger Penny Pincher

Comments are closed.