String art combines geometry and the creative process to form complex-looking designs that are fairly simple to make. It’s a math craft with staying power. I can remember how excited I was to learn to what is also known as curve stitching as a child and when my younger teen son saw me preparing this post, he told me how much fun he had making these math designs too. Bonus: making string art also boosts vocabulary, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
The designs are created merely by connecting points with straight lines in a predetermined sequence. I’ll talk you through the basics of making a parabola.
- pen or pencil
- cardboard or cardstock (I upcycled one of my son’s old folders for the demo, a file folder would be sturdy enough for an older child)
- sewing needle
- thread or embroidery floss
1. Using the ruler, draw two straight 5-inch long perpendicular lines, this means they meet at a right, or 90-degree angle like the letter L. You can introduce your child to the terms x-axis, the horizontal line or base of the L, and y-axis, the vertical line or backbone of the L. Keeping in mind that this is the back side of your design, where neatness is less important, use the ruler mark off every 1/2 inch on each line. On the x-axis, number the points from 1-10 starting on the left side at the first point off of the intersection and moving right, as pictured above. On the y-axis, number 1 should be at the highest mark and 10 should be at the lowest one just above the intersection.
2. Use the sewing needle to poke the holes at each mark; this will make the next step much easier.
3. Thread your needle and starting at number 1 on the x-axis, poke the needle through to the front of the paper. Leave about an inch of thread behind and tape it down to anchor it. From the front, thread the needle back through the number 1 hole on the top of the y-axis. Next move to the number 2 spot on the x-axis and so forth in sequence. You’ll be working your way from left to right on the x-axis and from top to bottom on the y-axis. When you’re running low on thread, be sure to tape it on the back side to keep the front side neat. Cut more thread, loop it through the needle and start over again.
You will need a lot of thread. These two five-inch lines require more than 100 inches of thread. That’s more than 8 feet! It’s cumbersome for a child (or me) to work with a single piece of thread that length.
4. Turn your sheet over and admire your handiwork!
To adapt the string art project for young ones, use sturdy cardboard, create large hole with a hole puncher and use yarn or string with a large needlepoint needle instead of a sewing needle and thread. Or you can simply draw the connecting lines.