How to Make String Art Using Canvas

Updated April 17, 2017

String art is one of the most basic applications of mathematical artwork. Sufficiently complex string patterns can create dynamic images that appear to have curvature when they are all indeed made of straight lines. Strings are often used in mixed media paintings to add an additional dimension to the artwork, for example, adding real strings to the sail on a sail boat or the spokes on a Ferris wheel. Simple patterns can be produced by even kindergarten-age kids.

Measure the edges of the canvas and make a pencil mark every half inch.

Tack cloat head nails down on each of the marks. They should be tacked into the wooden framing.

Tie a piece of string to your chosen starting nail.

Pull the string across the canvas and wrap it around another nail. Continue this process until you have created a random pattern you like.

Hammer the nails flush with the canvas to secure the strings in place.

Place cloat nails around the edge of the canvas at equidistant marks. The number of nails used will determine the shape you create. Eight nails (two in each side) will produce an octagon.

Tie a string to one of the nails.

Stretch the string to another nail and tie it there. Cut the excess string off.

Tie a second string to the first nail.

Stretch this string to another nail and tie it off in the same way as the first.

Continue tying strings from the initial nail to each of the others until you have one string tied to each of the seven other nails.

Move to the next nail and tie strings in the same fashion to each of the other nails. This time you will only have six strings to tie because you already tied one from the first nail to the second in a previous step.

Continue this process for each of the other nails. After all strings have been attached you will have a beautiful geometric pattern with the outline of an octagon.

Hammer down each of the cloat nails to keep the strings in place.

Tack down cloat nails in the same fashion as you did for the first project (all the way around the outside of the canvas). Make sure you have an equal number of nails on each side of the canvas. they are only required to be equidistant from each other on the side they are on. If the canvas is rectangular (which it probably is) then the opposite sides will have the same distance between nails.

Measure the length between the first nail at the top left hand corner of the canvas and the first nail to the right of the bottom left hand side of the canvas. Add one inch for tying. Cut enough strings of this length so each nail will have one string attached to it.

Tie the first string to the top left hand corner nail in the canvas.

Stretch this string to the first nail to the right of the bottom corner.

Tie the second string to the nail below the first string on the left hand side.

Stretch this string to the nail to the right of the last string attached at the bottom. Continue this process for all of the nails on the left hand side of the canvas.

Turn the canvas 180 degrees and repeat the process. This will create two parabolic curves on the canvas.

Hammer down all of the cloat nails to hold the strings in place.


Painting the canvas and using different colours of string can spice up the geometric patterns. There are several books and websites that sell patterns specifically for string art. Cloat nails are used for their large heads that prevent the strings from slipping off the nails during or after wrapping and tying. Other nails can be used after the procedure has been mastered.

Things You'll Need

  • Canvas
  • String
  • Hammer
  • Cloat head nails
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author