Budget project · DIY · Home decor · Wall Art

Rustic Rockstar


My neighbor was recently purging her house of clutter and unused items. I happened to step outside right as she was leaving with a huge armload of boards. I mean, almost blocking her line of sight HUGE armload. I asked if I could help her carry those to her car and she said no, these pieces of wood were headed for the dumpster. She gave me a funny look. I realize now that it was probably because I was looking at her like she had grown a second head that started speaking another language, but I digress… I quickly asked if I could take them and hauled them inside. On closer inspection I found that they were IKEA Malm bed slats. Perfectly good, perfectly wonderful. I began thinking of what to make.


I have slowly been purchasing and making more wall art for my house. My current wall art feels really dated and my walls seemed neglected in general. But we all know that art can be pretty pricey, so I like to look at thrift stores, art school exhibitions- Seattle has a wonderful tradition called First Thursday where the first Thursday of every month art museums waive their entrance fee and people- many art students- set up booths in Pioneer Square and sell their creations- and of course, my favorite, DIY.


  • 1×4 wooden boards, or whatever scrap wood you come up with, 4 boards 20 inches long each
  • 1×2 cut to 2 pieces 13 inches long each.
  • Minwax Special Walnut Here
  • Acrylic paint- I used this Antique Gold and Antique Parchment
  • Wood Glue
  • Embroidery thread Here
  • 1 1/4 inch Finishing Nails


  • Hammer
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Rags
  • Paintbrush
  • Hanging hardware


I have been wanting to try my hand at the string art trend for a while now, and these bed slats afforded me the perfect opportunity. I laid out a few slats together to get an idea of how big I wanted the piece. I opted for 4 slats high (each slat a 1×4) and trimmed to 20 inches long. I also cut  2 pieces of scrap 1×2 to 13 inches each. I then sanded everything down and stained it with Minwax Special Walnut, only one coat because I didn’t want it too dark. While those dried, I hopped on the computer to print out my phrase. I decided to print “Rockstar” in French Script at 350 points. I chose this font because for most of the words the letters are connected and it had a decent width to the lines that made up the letters. It’s something you want to consider when choosing a font.


Once my boards were dry I ran glue along the edges and clamped the boards together to dry, then I flipped it over and nailed  one 13 inch piece of 1×2 3 inches in from each vertical edge, adding one nail per board for added reinforcement. When doing this, be sure to choose nails that are not so big they pop out the front! I used 1 1/4 inch finishing nails.


I then flipped it back over to the front and played around with the phrase placement until I was happy with the arrangement and taped them to the boards. I knew I was going to keep the color palette pretty neutral, & I was using a cream colored embroidery thread, but it still needed something. So I broke out my antique gold and antique parchment paint and added a few stars around the phrase. Ahh, much better. Now we are ready.


My original plan was to use regular nails with small heads to outline my phrase and attach a crystal or stud every so often to the heads. But taking another look I realized that with this particular font and size the nail heads were going to take up too much space and block a lot of the string. I still think this is a good idea and I might do this down the road, but I definitely will need to choose a wider or bigger font or picture for this to work. Something to consider. I opted for the one and a quarter finishing nails to outline my letters.


Love your fingers, use pliers! Holding nails with needle nose pliers saved me so much time and injury. I outlined by letters in no time and was ready to begin wrapping the string.


I tied off my embroidery thread to a corner nail of my first letter and added a dab of glue to reinforce the knot, then began wrapping the string around the nails. I first wrapped each nail in a straight line all the way around my letters so I would have a strong outline. Then I began to fill in. Don’t overthink it! I just zigzagged back and forth. My system was that at each nail I would wrap from the beginning nail to another then back to the first and then back out to a different nail,  trying to connect each nail to every nail that surrounded it. I hope that makes sense. Trying to write it out is confusing ME, so….sorry.


Anyways, continue in whatever wrapping rhythm works for you until you like the look and fullness of your letters, then tie of your string and again dab some glue on the knot to reinforce it.


One mistake I made that I hope to keep you from: I was nervous that I would get the outline confused, with all those nails next to each other, so I left the paper template under my work until I was done wrapping. This is a mistake! Snipping around, picking out paper from under all that string took forever, not to mention it would have been terribly easy to mess up all that work trying to rip the paper out without disturbing the string atop it!  Keep your paper template in place until you have nailed all around the outline but remove it before starting to wrap the string. If you are worried about mixing up the order of nails, you could print a second copy of the phrase for reference or lightly outline your letters with a pencil or something else that would end up covered by the string. Trust me, it was very aggravating!


And it’s completed! I screwed 2 D-ring  picture hangers onto the back for easy hanging eventually, but I’m loving the little touch of rustic glam this piece adds to my wall. And I feel like a rockstar, so there’s that! Ha! Though Michael just pointed out it looks like an homage to his energy drink of choice…hmmm…what the hell, dude…rain on my parade…..now I’m craving that lovely liquid energy…I’ve decided- either way, it’s awesome!




Go nuts! Have fun! Get messy! Amazing things can happen when you do!



P.S. Here are the fun parties I link to!