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String tree how-to
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kiwikat wrote in saucydwellings
In the past I've had people request instructions on how to recreate the string tree I made in my living room. While I don't have a full tutorial, I do have enough to get you going so you can hopefully recreate this fun project at home.

Here's the tree in my living room that started all the trouble:

I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos, when I took them my camera's screen had died- so I could take pictures but I couldn't really aim or anything or be sure the photo had come out.


Start by putting pushpins into the wall in the general shape of the tree you're hoping to create.


I generally have a photo of a tree printed out to give me a basic guide as to the shape I'm going for. Don't be married to any particular tree, feel free to edit as you see fit.

Any good drawing teacher will tell you that the rules of trees are thus:

Don't be too symmetrical or regular with the branches, trees are not ladders.
Generally odd numbers of things look better than even
Don't try to make it too perfect. Trees grow kind of wonky.

Other pointers I would give you would be:

Don't be too linear. Jump around with the string, don't just go from one pin to the next when you're making the trunk. The doubling back is what gives it that neat appearance of bark or texture.

You can use the same pin over and over, don't be afraid to wrap the hell out of them.

To make knotholes I make a ring or two of pushpins and wrap the string in a circle while weaving in and out. If it looks stupid just unwind it and try again.

I usually bring a chunk of wood to use to push the pins into the wall, because if you don't protect your poor thumbs you WILL get thumb blisters.


You can see here how I'm doubling back. I often take breaks to step back from the tree and ensure I like how it's shaping up.

If you have to let go of the string (I do this about 4,000 times per tree) simply tack the string firmly into place with a pushpin and wind it around a few times. You have to maintain tension or the thing will unwind and ruin your hard work.


Generally I start with the trunk and do each branch individually. This makes sense, since the ends of a tree's little branches don't grow back into each other.

You can mess with the width of branches by varying the spacing of your pushpins and changing how you wrap. For example, if you want to make a tiny branch it will look smaller if you cross the string on the way instead of looping around the pins like a big elongated "0".

Everything will look more natural if you allow the branches to overlap. Try not to let previous branches distract you, just focus on the branch you're making and try to make that branch seem right. It's similar to learning to sing harmony in choir- don't pay too much attention to what the other people are doing, just find the spot where your part fits.


Popping the branches out the other side meant I had to cut the string for this installation. I usually make my string trees all from one long piece.


Can't forget the birdy on the left.


This is the closest thing I have to a picture of the finished product. At the bottom the turtle is climbing over the trunk, and the birds are resting in the branches.

Sadly this was taken down shortly after I completed it. C'est la vie! All is impermanent.

I have enough birds to do a companion tree so I can install this on either side of a door, which is my grand plan as soon as I get a suitable location.

If you enjoyed this I have pictures of my one other string tree as well as my whole art portfolio available for viewing at kandeart.com
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Thanks! It's a lot of fun.


Totally amazing, what a great idea!

Can you give me some hints on how you did the foliage/lights on your website?



I didn't do the foliage/lights, I hired corey@mythicwebdesign.com who did my web design and coding. He's great!

I'm sitting right beside it now and I can't find any. I have two cats and it's never gotten hairy.

super creative! how did you get the idea for this?

My husband actually thought of it. When he was a little kid he always thought it would be cool to do but he couldn't ever get it right because he's not very good at drawing trees. When we redid our living room he told me about his idea and I built it the very next day. : )

very cool! thanks for sharing your design and string tree tutorial. :)

Glad to share, I hope some other people try it.

love this! definitely gonna try it out.

It's way easy, you should.

Get on it! It's pretty easy to do.

This is absolutely beautiful!

Holy cow this is awesome. It would be perfect for the odd wallon the side of my stairs!

Give it a shot! Supplies are only like $5. : )

Fantastic! I'm also really digging the other art at your site.

Thanks very much. I work on it pretty constantly. : )

This might be a "dur" question, but what kind of string do you use? Also do the pushpins show up in the finished art? I can't see them in the pictures but I'm looking at this on a little device. :)

Thanks for posting this!

I just use yarn. I've had the one in my living room for three years and it's holding up beautifully. You can see the pins if you get up close, but I always use clear ones so they're very minimally visible.

Glad to share!

HOLY CRAP!!!! I am in LOVE with this! SO COOL!!!!

Now that I've regained my composure... how long do these generally take? I'm so inspired.


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