We’ve recently showcased some forms of art which are centred around patterns, such as paper folding, wind sculpture, glass sculpture, illusionary sculptures, patterns occurring in nature, (called fractals and mandelbrots), and patterns created by drawing machines.

Today we look at another art form which creates patterns - string art, or pin and thread art. This is a series of coloured threads strung between pins, or points to form geometric patterns. You might have even done this at school, in either maths or art classes!

The thread, wire, or string is wound around a grid of nails hammered into board. Though straight lines are formed by the string, the patterns are created by the position of the pegs and the method of winding the thread around them. The slightly different angles and metric positions at which strings intersect gives the appearance of curves. They can be very simple or very complex, limited only by your imagination!

String art has its origins in the 'curve stitch' activities invented by Mary Everest Boole1 at the end of the 19th century to make mathematical ideas more accessible to children.

Mary Everest Boole (11 March 1832 – 17 May 1916) lived in Middlesex, England and was a self-taught mathematician who is best known as an author of didactic (instructional) writings on mathematics, designed to encourage children to explore mathematics through playful activities such as curve stitching.1 To read more about Mary Boole, click here.

In it's simplest form, curve stitching makes geometric patterns such as the parabola from overlapping straight lines:

From it's mathematical beginnings, string art was popularised as a decorative craft in the late 1960s through kits and books, which are still available today. You might even be inspired by the following short video to give it a go yourself!

Then there is Kendra Werst, a Missouri based artist in the USA, who takes string art to a whole new level. She creates three dimensional works that redefine space.

Using colorful strands of thread affixed to the adjacent walls in the corner of a room, the multihued strings weave in and out of a plexiglass panel to create a sculptural structure embellished with abstract accents. The structure is a geometric feast for the eyes that stands at 9 feet tall.2

Footnotes

  1. With thanks to Wikipedia.

  2. With thanks to mymodernmet.com