State Map Nail Art (Or Why I Should Live In A Square State)

The hubs is a collector of maps and we are in the process of creating an entire map wall in our home office.  Let me clarify that this has been in the works for over a year.  And we've done nothing other than buy more maps and talk about it.  We are efficient people, let me tell you.  I blame it on wanting to make cute map alternatives to break up a sea of vintage maps, rather than tackle stacks of papers begging to be filed and boxes screaming to be unpacked. Modern versions of nail art (nothing like those numbers from the 70's) are all over Pinterest and Etsy.  Hearts, cute phrases, state maps.  Every tutorial I found made it seem so easy that it would only take minutes to do.  My hint should have been the most complicated state in any of these tutorials was Ohio.  Which is a glorified Colorado, Mississippi, and all those other easy states.  But alas, I committed to create my own version of my home state, Virginia.

What You Need: Wood Plaque (I chose 11x14 inch in walnut) Paint & Brush 100% Cotton Crochet Thread (usually found on the Cross-stitch aisle) 3/4 x16 Wire Nails (one large pack should be enough) Hammer State Photo - blow up to fit your plaque

I found a map with clear boundaries and after a few tries at Staples, ended up with a version that would easily fill my plaque.


I bought a sample size container of a decor-matching shade of navy from Lowes (Valspar 4011-8 'Mystified') and put two coats on the wood after I gave it a quick sand and wipe down.


Once the paint dries, center your state map on the plaque as this will guide your nails for the final project.  I would use painters tape to secure your map to insure your paint finish stays crisp.


Now the fun part.  I would suggest starting this half of the project on a stressful day.  You will feel better about 50 nails in.... guaranteed.

I started at the top (near where DC would be) and worked towards Southwest VA, thinking this would be the easiest part of the state.  I was dreading making a decision on whether or not to pretend the Eastern Shore didn't exist.  Little did I know my need for perfection would make that part seem easy.


Decide up front how detailed you want to be - square states get it easy here.  I ended up placing my nails much closer together than I originally intended in order to show the nuances of the border.  When you go to wrap the thread, the less dense your nails are, the easier it will be.  But why not rise to the challenge?

I decided to sacrifice aesthetics for accuracy and included the Eastern Shore.  The flaw with this is that it would have to be wrapped separately.  I promise this will make sense when you see the final project.  You don't have to have a center point to wrap the threads - you can do it haphazardly to fill the whole state, but I chose to place a heart at our town (where we met & married & live - it's just too precious I know).  I free-handed the heart, but looking back would have made it a bit larger to make the wrapping process easier.



Once you get all your nails in, its time to remove the pattern.  Here is where I determined that every other tutorial lied.  You should be able to pull off the painters tape and pattern but......



Let me draw your attention to all the teeny-tiny paper flecks caught under the nails.  If the nails were further apart would this happen?  Maybe not, but who knows?  All I can say is that a good pair of tweezers was ruined in pulling out half the nails to remove these annoying pattern leftovers.  Having to hammer them back in afterwards ended up being a blessing in disguise - it took care of the stress from having to re-do it!  Needless to say, I don't have a great solution for this - just be prepared to do this, so don't hammer your nails in too far initially.  Make sure your nails are all about the same length - and it's time to start wrapping!

I started wrapping in the Southwestern part of the state where the nails were closer together and I knew the starting knot would easily be covered.  Be sure to keep the string tight as you wrap between the state border & heart.  I tried to keep about the same number of threads on each nail in the heart to keep the look even.


Tie off the thread at the end and tuck it under and there you have it!  That's a wrap (pun totally intended).

Once you have your supplies and have finished painting, it only takes about 2 hours to get the nails in, the nails out, the nails back in, and wrapped.  If you have paint on hand, you can definitely make this for less than $10!  Make this your next rainy day project - link up your masterpiece when you try it out.  What would you do differently?