Take a moment and imagine your embroidery without the confines of fabric, needle, and stitches. Imagine the thread in your hand going wild and free, streaking through the air, leaving contrails of color, texture and dimension. You’ve just created imaginary string art. Now let’s do it for real. Just as spring break is upon us here in the USA, your thread wants to get out of its box and make an episode of Threads Gone Wild. Here are two ways to get started making string art.
OPTION 1: Upcycle found string art
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at string art, but didn’t know where to begin…or wanted the easiest way to begin, try a project like this. I found a cute string art design at a TJ Maxx in the USA, removed the boring plain yarn and replaced it with more fun fibers. No design experience needed. It takes minutes, no hammering required, and your design looks better than the original.
What I used in this model:
- Wild & Free cactus string art from TJ Maxx (from www.NielsenBainbridgeGroup.com)
- sharp embroidery scissors
- One spool of Kreinik Micro Ice Chenille in Fern Green
- One spool of Kreinik Tapestry #12 Braid in 053F glow-in-the-dark lime
- Purchase a string art design from a craft store, home goods store, or antique store
- With the scissors, remove the plain yarn currently wrapped around the nails that are in place on the design.
- Start wrapping with the new, fun threads using Micro Ice Chenille first. Tie one end around a nail, then start “stringing” it, wrapping it around the other nails at diagonals, or as desired. When finished with that thread, tie the end in a knot around a nail. With your finger, push the chenille down the shaft of the nail slightly to give you room for the next thread.
- Use the other thread, the Tapestry #12 Braid in the same manner, on top of the Micro Ice Chenille.
OPTION 2: Create your own from scratch
- Paint a wooden base your desired color
- Draw or use cookie cutters or clip art outlines, cut them out, and temporarily tape them onto your dried wooden base.
- Hammer nails around the outside of our paper template. This is a good way to work out stress from the day, by the way, but always be careful when using a hammer and nail. Safety first.
- Decorate with threads by stringing the thread from nail to nail (tie thread ends around a nail and make a knot to secure beginning and end).
- Add words or embellishments around the string art with paint, paint pens, and stencils.
Why string art is a mental vacation for a stitcher
Before you start your next cross stitch, felting, tapestry or sewing project, make some string art. This is no-fail “embroidery” where you can’t go wrong. Every once in awhile, don’t we need an escape from the stitching “rules”? Use it to experiment with different thread types without worrying about neatness, technique or pattern. Feel the freedom to layer different kinds of threads for more visual interest. Choose colors that stir your soul. Mix up thread types to be as varied and interesting as life itself. String art, while starting out as a means of teaching math to students, has become a means of creating three-dimensional art. Layering different types of threads simply adds to the dimension.
Do you remember a moment from childhood when you disregarded the outlines in your coloring book, and wildly drew dashes of free-form color side to side? It may have been frenetic motions, with cares thrown to the wind, energy materializing as you performed free-form coloring. Wow that felt good, didn’t it? Go do that again, with thread.
For more information
- String Art portraits, http://www.laarco.com/works/frida/
- String art how-to video: https://youtu.be/DN8u0ODwDWI
- Kreinik metallic and glow-in-the-dark threads, www.kreinik.com
- String-art art installations: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/string-art-216854
- Search “string art” on Pinterest and Instagram for more inspiration
Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory. Dena’s monthly column, Kreinik Calling, sheds light on the fascinating fibres that we all use and love.