Danielle Beaton works on her string art at her kitchen table in Auburn this month. Beaton works from home and uses downtime to work on her creations. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Inspired last summer, Danielle Beaton bought boards, nails and string, and she was in business.

As Mainely String Art, she’s created trucks, mountains, Maines, unicorns, heart-shaped stethoscopes and even a panda drooling rainbow-colored paint, an eight-hour project that was such a hit, the customer ordered five more custom designs.

“Not all panda heads, thankfully,” Beaton said. “I think he did most of his Christmas shopping with me.”

One of Danielle Beaton’s Mainely String Art creations. Submitted photo

Beaton, 27, works full-time as an insurance company client liaison. Like so many people, she found herself looking for ways to keep busy in off-hours during the pandemic and found inspiration at one of the few local craft fairs.

“It seemed like a really good outlet,” she said. “I thought it was really pretty — the intricacy of it and being able to customize anything you wanted, any way you wanted, as far as the string colors and the stains of the boards and all of that.”

Designs start by prepping boards that she’s recently started scoring for free in local lumberyard’s kindling piles.

Maybe there’s “a notch in the wood or pieces that may be oddly shaped,” she said. “A lot of people buy lumber to make decks and they don’t want knots, they want it pretty clean, simple, but I like those because they give each piece different character.”

From there, it’s sizing, tweaking and customizing templates she finds online. Outlining in tiny nails. Then, lots and lots of string in long, contiguous pieces, not so loose they droop and not so tight they snap.

“I essentially outline my piece and start filing it in,” Beaton said. Ups and downs. Sides to sides. Diagonals. “And then just crisscross everywhere to make the design so it looks messy but it’s not messy. You really have to do that up and down and back and forth to make the background color so you don’t see so much of the wood.”

A heart-shaped stethoscope by Mainely String Art in Auburn. Submitted photo

Her most popular designs have been the state of Maine and a moose and pine tree with mountains.

“If you live in Maine, you really promote Maine, it’s just who you are,” she said. “I’ve had some people who have bought some items for their RVs and campers for when they travel. They have a little piece of Maine with them.”

Most pieces take three to six hours. Many start as custom requests. Others hit Facebook when she’s done, to be quickly snapped up.

In the lead-up to Christmas, Beaton was crafting “a piece every one-two days because I had so many I had to get out,” she said. “Originally, I really didn’t think it was going to take off the way that it did, by any means, I was just trying to keep my mind busy. Then people started really liking the items and buying them and it grew exponentially really quickly.”

She has ideas percolating for picture frames. Key holders. Maybe teaching a string art night class.

“I’m not sure where it’s going to go,” she said.

She may follow where the string takes her.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: