Pulled String Art is one of the coolest classic art projects you’ll ever try! And it doubles as a wonderful math art project for kids.
In this post I’ll share a couple different paint types you can use to make pulled string art. Just be sure to have plenty of paper handy because you can’t make just one of these.
And be sure to listen for the SOUND of this! Everyone love the funny sound the string makes a you pull int out from under the book.
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NOTE: Full disclosure…this is a messy project! I recommend doing this on a tray or table covered with butcher paper. Your fingers and the book will also get a bit covered in paint.
- String I use crochet thread like this
- Paint Use either liquid watercolors OR watered down tempera paint
- Craft sticks
- Cardstock I highly recommend heavyweight paper for this
- Old book
- Paper towels
Pulled String Art Instructions
Time needed: 15 minutes.
An incredible classic art project kids (and adults) will love.
- Prepare the paint
If you are using liquid watercolors, mix them with a small amount of of water. You want the paint to be pretty concentrated. If using tempera, squeeze it into a small cup and water it down until it is runny.
- Cut string and place in paint
Cut string into 18″-24″ lengths. You will need a piece for each color. Add one cut piece of string to each paint cup. Use a craft stick to press it into the paint.
- Prepare paper
Fold a piece of cardstock in half.
- Open and add string
Open up your paper and lay one of the pieces of string on one side of the paper. Leave a “tail” sticking out of the bottom! If you are using the watered down tempera, gently run your finger along the string as you pull it out of the cup to remove some of the paint. If you don’t, you may end up with paint blobs.
- Close paper and press with book
Fold the paper over the string and place a book on top.
- Pull the string out
Hold down the book with one hand and slowly pull out the string with your other hand. It will make a squeaky noise! That’s a sign you are doing it correctly! Just be sure not to put so much pressure on the book that the string breaks. Place the string back in the paint cup afterwards.
- Open it up
Remove the book and open up your paper to reveal an incredible image!
Repeat the process above with 2-3 more colors. It’s incredible to see the layers!
- Make sure your liquid watercolors are not too watered down. If your paintings are too light add more paint.
- You can use regular paper for this but it may rip a little as you pull the string out.
- As I mentioned above, if you are using watered down tempera gently remove some (not all) of the paint before adding it to the paper by gently pulling the string between your fingers as you remove it from the paint cup.
- Paper towels are handy to clean up and for wiping paint off your hands.
- I highly recommend using watered down black tempera paint. It presents a beautiful contrast to any colors you use.
Let’s Talk STEAM
Pulled string art is a playful process art technique that has beautiful results. Process art is art made for the purpose of creative exploration. The focus is on the process of making not the end product. Process art may or may not yield an interesting result. In this case we get an incredible piece of art made from a unique process of sandwiching and pulling on paint soaked strings.
An axis is a straight line around which geometric figures are reflected. In this project the folded center line acts as an axis. It runs vertically up and down the page.
Symmetry is the agreement of the position of a pattern on either side of an axis. By sandwiching the string between folded paper you are producing a symmetrical mirrored image on either side of your paper.
Two other beautiful examples of pulled string art can be found here on Tinkerlab where they used incredibly vibrant color combinations and on the Artful Parent where they went big with this process!
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Hey Ana! I haven’t ever had any luck with this activity no matter the paint or technique I use! Can you give any tips or specifics (I.e. completely undiluted liquid watercolors, or maybe even the brand name, bc I’m in Canada)—on how to make this work, like how long to keep it in paint, or in book etc.do you have Video of this on your Youtube? I’m so at a loss this is probably one of the only activities I haven’t been able to recreate of yours in some magical way & it’s the one we all want to do the most! Thank you!
Ana Dziengel says
Oh no! Did you check out the video here: https://youtu.be/vuD3Xo1vK_Q
I would use tempera mixed with water to make it thinner. Leave the string in the paint for a minute and then gently remove excess paint by running your fingers along the string before putting it on the paper.Let me know if this helps!