Let's get festive: Christmas nail & string art!

Written by Ashleigh G

We wanted to kick off our festive blog series with a great activity you can try with your unit, with friends or during a cosy afternoon whilst watching your favourite Christmas film. (For me it has to be Elf!)

To make this string art you will need:

  • Blocks of wood thick enough to hammer nails into;
  • Plenty of nails - the exact amount will depend on your design but they should have a large enough head to stop the string from coming off once you thread it round;
  • String or embroidery floss in a number of colours;
  • Paper and pencils for designing.

First, decide on your design. You could choose something simple like a Christmas tree or snowman, or go for something more complicated involving multiple smaller sections, like a string of lights or letters.

When you've got your design, trace it onto your paper. Cut your template out and position it where you want it on your block of wood. I used some sellotape to keep mine in place.

With your template in place, you can begin positioning your nails! Where you position them will affect your overall string pattern, so you might want to plan out their position with pencil markings first. As a general rule you should put a nail on every corner or point, and if your design is rounded, you could start by plotting '12' '3' '6' and '9' o'clock and fill in the gaps to make sure you have even placement. If you're designing a snowman or something similar you could plot '3' '6' and '9', leaving 12 free to blend into the higher snowball. But every design is unique and you'll know what you want your final design to look like so experiment with different placements!

If you've never hammered a nail before, here are some tips. Hold the nail near the head, gripping it in place. By holding it higher up, if you slip with the hammer there's less chance of you accidentally whacking your fingers! Without lifting the hammer too high - your wood should be fairly soft anyway - tap the head of your nail with your hammer until it stays in place without needing to hold it. Once it's free standing you can hit it a bit harder to drive it into the wood. You should leave about an inch of the nail sticking out of the wood to wind the string around, but you can hit it further into the wood if you wish.

Carry on adding the nails until your design starts to take shape. Once you've gone round your template you can remove the paper from the wood. Simply pull it away - it doesn't matter if it rips - and you'll be left with a nail outline of your design.

Now comes the fiddly part! First, choose your colours. If you're going for a Christmas tree you'll be needing green, brown for the trunk and some gold or yellow if you've added a star. To prevent the string tangling you could cut a length of about a meter to start with. Tie your string to a nail - it's usually best to start at a corner. In any pattern you like begin winding your string around the nail template. You could do figure 8's, zig zag, or use one nail to create a wheel pattern. The pattern is up to you and if you find you don't like how it's turning out you can unwind the string and try a different approach.

Tying lengths of string together and winding them around the nails you will eventually build up colour on your design, tying off the ends as you go. You could add more definition by winding another shade around the edge of your design or weaving it through the pattern. Once you're happy with your design simply tidy up the string by cutting the loose ends and voila! You've just made some awesome nail string art!

If you want to add some more festive flair simply string some battery operated lights around your design. If you want to make something with more intricate patterns, think about how you can separate each section. This fox for example has separate sections for its ears, tail and stomach. By dividing up the design you can make even more detailed patterns!

This craft makes a great decoration or could be the perfect unique gift. Your design doesn't have to be Christmas themed - there are designs out there for all sorts of occasions as well as animals, flowers and a whole array of movies and TV shows! Whether you go for a festive theme or not, we hope you'll have a go and send us some pictures of the results!

Have you tried this craft before? Or have you got another festive activity you'd love to share? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!

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