This guitar string lily flower is one of my favorite projects I’ve ever come up with. I’m super excited to show you how to make a flower sculpture out of guitar strings!
I save all of my old guitar strings. Why? Because they make great art supplies! I think the curls on the ends where they were wound around the tuners are super cute, and the ball ends remind me of lily stamens. So, when I noticed that I had four sets of old guitar strings on hand, I decided to do a little upcycling, and make a guitar string flower sculpture. The lily that I came up with is somehow strong and delicate at the same time. It would be a great handmade gift for a musician! I’ll walk you through all of the steps and show you how to make your own guitar string flower.
By the way, this lily sculpture won second place in the Stay Home and Craft Challenge from FaveCrafts, and was a finalist in the Trash to Treasure contest on instructables. I was so excited to share my project with the crafting community, and stoked that I was a finalist in both contests!
And if you’re looking for more upcycle projects, check out some of my other recycled arts and crafts. I love using weird materials like produce bags, old vinyl records, and clothing labels!
How to Use Guitar Strings in Sculptures
I recommend that you wear safety glasses and gloves when you are working with guitar strings. They are springy, and the cut ends can scratch you. If you’ve never changed the strings on a guitar before, please be careful so that you don’t put your eye out and break your poor mother’s heart.
The easiest way to get used guitar strings is to have an experienced player give you strings with no guitar attached. If you remove them from a guitar yourself, make sure that you know how to do it before you begin. There is a nice tutorial here, and it’s not difficult, but guitar strings are under a LOT of tension. I’m serious about this, don’t cut or twist or attempt to remove a string from a guitar unless it is COMPLETELY slack.
Guitar strings wear out quickly enough. You may be able to find someone who is more than willing to give you their old ones the next time they change them out. I feel like the worn look gives them extra charm, and of course I like to upcycle whenever I can. I just love giving new life to something that was going to be garbage anyway!
But you can always buy new strings for this project if you want to, and if you do, I highly recommend the Ernie Ball Silk and Steel strings. They have a layer of silk in between the core and the windings, which makes it really easy to remove the windings from them (we will be making the lily petals out of the windings). I use silk and steel strings on the guitar I play, because they’re easier on my fingers than all-metal strings.
And speaking of my guitar, check out the “abalone” decals and shark-shaped capo I added! I love the look of the decals, and they’ve been in place for almost 3 years now with no peeling or fading. The decals are applied like stickers, so it’s super easy to do, and I couldn’t be happier with the look.
Sort Your Guitar Strings
Here are the guitar strings that I used to make the lily sculpture. A set of guitar strings for a standard guitar will have 6 strings that vary in thickness. The thicker, bass strings are usually bronze colored, and the two thinnest ones will probably look silver.
Take a look at the guitar strings I started out with. See how some of them are thicker, and look like springs? Those are made from very thin wire (the windings) wrapped around thicker wires. The windings can be removed (I’ll show you how in a minute). This will give you yards and yards of very thin, curly wire. The windings are what I used to make the delicate lily petals.
In all, I used four sets of guitar strings to make my flower, but I picked through to get the sizes and colors of strings that I wanted. I only used the thickest 16 strings from the 4 sets of guitar strings. The thinnest silver ones were set aside for another project.
One end of all of the guitar strings should have a metal ball on one end. (You can’t see the balls when the strings are on the guitar.) The balls on the ends might be many different colors. This is because some brands color-code the balls so that you can tell the strings apart when you’re re-stringing your guitar. So don’t be too surprised if the strings you find have strange colors on the tips. Just look for a different set of strings if the colors aren’t what you wanted for the stamens of your lily.
The other end of the guitar string will probably be curly, where it was wrapped around the tuner on the neck of the guitar. I didn’t use the curly part in this particular sculpture, but if I was making a vine it would make a great tendril. Or curly hair on a statue. Or the tail of a piggy. Okay, I need to make another sculpture now!
Gather Your Materials
In addition to the 4 sets of guitar strings, I also used:
- Some stiff scrap wire to stiffen the stem of the lily (a coat hanger would work really well)
- Some gold florist’s wire
- Bronze jump rings in 4 mm and 8 mm sizes (I got an assortment of different sizes of jump rings, which was very reasonably priced. But you can also get each size individually.)
- Safety glasses
How to Make the Flower Stem
To start, choose seven of the thickest guitar strings to form the center of the flower and the stem. Cut one 13″ (33 cm) long, and six 12″ (30.5 cm) long sections, all with balls at one end. The balls will form the stamens that peek out of the center of the guitar string flower. Save the cut-off ends to make some of the lily petals.
How to Use Jump Rings as Clamps
We will be using the jump rings as clamps to attach all of the parts of the lily together. To turn the jump rings into clamps, put the tip of your pliers inside the jump ring, and gently spread the handles apart. This opens the jump ring up into a “C” shape. Using the pliers, place the now-open jump ring around the wires you want to clamp, and squeeze the jump ring shut. Make it tight, so that none of the wires in the bundle are loose or wiggly. Clamp two jump rings near each other to make your joins extra-secure.
How to Make the Guitar String Lily Leaves
Now, to make the leaves for the lily! Take one 12″ (30.5 cm) section of guitar string and bend it in half, creasing it. For the leaf vein, cut a 6″ (15 cm) section of a thick string, and pull a little bit of the winding off of the end. Attach the vein at the tip of the leaf by wrapping the winding around the bend in the leaf string. Now clamp all 3 of the loose ends together using jump rings. Make two leaves this way.
How to Make the Guitar String Flower Petals
Gather up your remaining guitar strings. Remember how the biggest strings are made of thick wires wrapped with very thin wire called the windings? We are going to make the flower petals out of the windings.
Be sure to put on your safety glasses (you gotta keep your mom happy)! Then take your pair of pliers, grab the thin wire, and pull it off of the end of the thick wire.
I made a video for you that shows you how to remove the windings from the guitar strings. Pulling the windings off is an easy process, UNLESS your strings are corroded. Then the windings will snap and break very easily. If you’re running into trouble, you can always get some new strings (like my favorite Silk and Steel that I’m using in the video.)
As you remove the windings from the guitar strings, you will end up with really long pieces of curly wire. Cut the thin, curly wires into 7″ (13 cm) sections.
To form the flower petals, divide the 7″ pieces of windings into 6 equal piles. Gather up one pile of the windings, along with two 7″ sections of mid-size guitar strings. Clamp them together tightly at each end with two jump rings. Then bend the cluster of wires into a curve, and pull the wires outwards from the middle of the cluster to make a shape that looks like a hammock. I pulled the mid-size guitar strings to the edges of each flower petal, to give them a more defined border. Repeat this process with the rest of the windings to make 6 petals.
How to Assemble Your Guitar String Flower
Grab the 7 guitar strings with balls on the ends that you set aside to form the stem. Add one or two 10″ pieces of stiff wire to the bundle, to make flower stem rigid. Clamp the stem together every couple of inches with the larger 8 mm jump rings. Clamp the leaves to the side of the stem, about halfway up, with more jump rings.
Attach the six petals in a circle around the stem, with the balls on the ends of the strings poking out of the center of the flower. Wrap gold florist’s wire tightly around the base of the petals to hold them in place. Trim the raggedy ends of the guitar strings on the tips of the petals.
Now give the petals, stem, and leaves a final bending to make them sit the way you want them to. How pretty! Now you know how to make a guitar string flower. A lovely handmade lily that will never wilt, made from recycled materials! I hope you use these tips to make your own guitar string flower sculpture, or pin this idea for later.