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How to Make a String Art Nativity Scene

This Christmas I haven’t done any projects with the nativity scene, which is what Christmas is all about. So of course, I wanted to incorporate a nativity scene into my holiday DIY this week.

This week is the conclusion of our holiday blog hop – Deck the Home, which is a five-week series of amazing Christmas DIY projects of the home. Hundreds of projects have been shared by 25 very talented DIY bloggers. Be sure to scroll to the end of the post to check out everyone’s home decor. And even though the hop is ending, we have quite a few weeks before Christmas, giving you plenty of time to work on some of your favorites.

So back to the nativity scene project. I wanted to create a giant nativity scene for the yard, but my hubby insisted on a simple reindeer and Santa sleigh instead. Since it was the last week of the hop, it was final chance to incorporate the nativity.
I had also been wanting to try DIY string art because I’ve seen so many cool designs. Therefore, I decided to try my hand at creating a DIY string art nativity scene.

Nativity scene string art on wood

How to Make a String Art Nativity Scene

Here are the steps I took to create the DIY string art nativity scene. Since this was my first time doing string art, I hope you find all the string art tips and tricks for beginners helpful.

Tools and Materials for DIY String Art Nativity

White DIY string art nativity scene on wooden board

Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the star on a wooden board

Drawing the Nativity Template

First, I drew the nativity scene on a piece of card stock. I figured the 8.5×11 paper was about the size that I wanted the nativity. You could draw the design out yourself or you could use the one I drew.

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Nativity scene homemade drawing on paper

Marking the Nail Holes

The next thing I did on my DIY string art project was I marked my nail holes with a black pen. You want your nails to be about 3/4″ apart. The more consistent, the better because then you can make more even/symmetrical patterns. In fact, you could even use a spacer (grab a drinking straw and cut it down to 3/4″) to be consistent.

In Hindsight: Some of my nails were marked way too close. I did this to try to get the curves of Mary and Joseph and a tight outline of the manger. But it makes your string harder to tie – and the pattern more confusing to follow.

Also, I ended up leaving the hand off of  Mary because there wasn’t enough space in between her and baby Jesus to give a nice outline. When you are drawing and marking your nail holes, be sure to have a nice clean outline of your shapes or people.

Marking the nail holes on the nativity scene string art sketch

Tapping the Nail Holes

After I marked the nail holes, I taped my picture to a piece of wood. Then I took one nail and started tapping it through the paper into the wood, to mark the hole.

I used the same nail and continued to do this for all of the holes.

Marking the nail holes on wood for the nativity scene string art piece

When I removed the paper, I had each of my holes marked for the string art.

Nail holes marked on wooden board for nativity scene string art

If you look at the below picture, you will see that my holes are marked too closely between Mary and baby Jesus. Again, you want to make sure that each area has a clean outline. It shouldn’t be hard to decipher, like this part.

Marking the holes in the wood for the nativity scene string art

Trimming the Wood to Size

Next, I used my table saw to trim off the top of the wood. I sanded down this side and any rough areas too.

Wooden string art project ready to start stringing

Stain the Wood

After my nativity scene pattern was on and my wood was trimmed, it was time to stain the wood. I used a homemade natural stain for this – which I absolutely love.

Hammering in the Nails

After the stain on the nativity scene dried, I then hammered in all of the nails into the wood. It took about a little over 100 nails. Here are the results:

Hammering silver nails on the wooden board for DIY string art nativity scene gift

Nailing into the string art board for DIY string art project

Wrapping the String

I did a lot of research to learn how to wrap the string around the nails to create beautiful string art. However, everybody the same thing – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Although true, I like a little more guidance than that, so here are my DIY string art tips for beginners:

First Things First

  • Decide you want to use the positive space or the negative space. I went with the negative space – which means instead of filling Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the star, etc in with string, I left them blank. Instead I filled the space around them with the string. When you are thinking about positive and negative space, think of using a cookie cutter in dough. The actual cook is the positive space and the scraps around where the cookie cutter went are the negative space.
  • Take your string and start in a corner. Wrap your string around the nail and tie it a couple of times. Be sure to leave a tail on your string so you can hide it later.
  • If you are starting with a busy scene or design, such as this nativity scene, then start with an outline of your scene. It will help you see your pattern and go from there. Here I am using my pattern to making an outline with my string.
Wrapping string around nails in a wooden board to create DIY string art nativity scene
Here is the finished outline of the nativity string art. I’m sorry for poor pictures – I get most of my projects done at night when the kids are sleeping. 🙂
Making an outline with string for the DIY string art project nativity scene.

How to Wrap the String

  • To wrap your string, you can use a variety of different ways.
    • You can weave the string around the nail holes in an almost zig-zag pattern – like if you were running an obstacle course lined with cones.
    • You can wrap the string around each nail hole in a loop. This is good for keeping a straight line or for anchoring your string once in a while.
    • You can make patterns – such as lines coming out from one point, zig zags back and forth, or up and down hills with the string, making almost triangular mountains.

Basically, you can wrap your string any way you want it.

  • Once you have your outline, bring your string over to where you want to start “filling in” the nativity scene.
  • To bring back your string, you just keep wrapping it or weaving it around the nails until you are in the desired place.
  • Then, start “filling in” the nativity scene using one of the ways above – or using your own way to wrap the string.
  • Be careful not to cross the string over any areas you don’t want filled in. I did that waaaaay too many times.

Below is a picture of me starting to do a zig-zag pattern with the string art, working my way around the picture.

Wrapping string around nails to create nativity scene string art project

You’ll keep wrapping your string and filling in your picture until you are content with it. I used a ton of string and kept wrapping and weaving in all sorts of patterns to get a filled in look. Using string and nails to create a beautiful string art nativity scene Finishing up wrapping the string around the nails on the DIY nativity scene string art project

More String Art Tips

  • If you feel like you are losing the shape of any of the things in your  nativity scene, then work your string to the point and outline it with the string again. To do this, just work your string around the perimeter of your shape. I did this with the star – I had so much string everywhere and I had only outlined the star once, that I felt that the star got lost.Then, I just worked my way around its perimeter again and again until I was happy with how it looked. I also went around the perimeter of the stable a few times too, to give it a nice clean outline.

Placing the finishing touches on the nativity scene DIY string art project

Finishing your DIY String Art

  • Once you are satisfied with your string art scene, then bring your string back to your starting point. (Do this by weaving or wrapping it until you are in the desired place).
  • Then, take your ends and tie them together.
  • With the tails, you can either weave them through your string art (easiest way is by using an embroidery needle). Or you can just hide it underneath.
  • Tying the ends of the DIY string art as the final touch

Here is my finished string art nativity scene. Not bad for my first time with string art!?

DIY nativity scene string art on wood held in front of colorful Christmas tree

Here is a close-up of the star:

String art nativity star in white on a wooden board

White string art nativity scene on wooden board

Time and Cost

It was a little time-consuming to hammer all the nails and to wrap the strings. However, wrapping the string was very therapeutic. Like doing a puzzle or coloring. Of course, you had to pay attention to your outlines – but overall it was a very calming activity.

As far as total time, I would say maybe about 3-4 hours total. The cost for me was just the string, which I bought for a buck or two. The nails and wood we had – and I made the stain with ingredients from my pantry.

Also, factor in whether you are going to add hanging hardware to back. I think I’ll keep ours leaning on the wall.

If you are looking for a fun, calming holiday DIY project that you can decorate your home with or give as a gift, definitely try string art. There’s no fancy skills involved!

Just you and some string 🙂

DIY nativity scene string art with pinecones and twinkle lights

That’s it for our holiday Deck the Home DIY projects. If you missed any, check out all of the 2018 Deck the Home holiday projects.

DIY string art nativity scene on wood

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23 Comments

  1. This looks great Eileen! I have always wanted to do string art and you make it look not so challenging now!
    Thanks so much for all you have done for this hop! I would love to do another one some day! Merry Christmas!

  2. This is so creative, Eileen. And yes, this is the true meaning of Christmas. We display our nativity scene with clay figurines every year, but this a lovely alternative to the traditional display. Thanks again for coordinating the blog hop. It was lots of fun! Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂

  3. Love this piece, Eileen! I, too, have been wanting to try my hand at string art. So, thank you for the tutorial!! What a perfect decor piece for Christmas. Merry Christmas!

  4. Wow! Wow! and Wow! Your string art is so impressive! It is so lovely to display this time of year.
    Thanks for the full tutorial and hosting the Blog Hop. You did so much work and I really appreciate it.
    Merry Christmas, Eileen!

  5. Your string art turned out so lovely. I would like to try this sometime. A great tutorial too. We will feature your tutorial on the next Blogger’s Pit Stop.
    Kathleen
    Blogger’s Pit Stop

  6. Wow, looks really hard. The string is so dense 🙂 I started doing string art just recently and created a mason jar, but it’s far from your quality. Love the pinecones and Christmas lights that you added for the end result.

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