How to Make String Art

By Jane Smith ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Various colors of thread or string
  • Straight pins or finishing nails
  • A piece of cork board or cardboard
  • A lot of patience

String art is a form of applied geometry. Using straight lines only, it is possible to define a curve. This curve, called a parabola, is the set of all points defined when you pass a flat plane surface through a solid cone. The curves can be a circle, ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola. Combining various sizes of curves results in interesting patterns.

Check the resources at the end of this article for ideas on the string art you want to produce. It is best to start by making simple curves. Once you are able to make these, combine several to make more complicated pieces.

First, put nails or tacks along the horizontal and the vertical sides of your board, about a half inch apart.

Beginning in the upper left corner, tie thread or string to the first nail, then connect it to the second nail from the bottom left corner, going toward your right. Bring the string back up to the second nail going down the left side, then back to the third nail going to the right along the bottom. Keep going until you have connected each nail in turn to the next one down or over from it. Your string will eventually form a curve called a hyperbola. A hyperbola is a conic section, which is the set of all points made when you pass a flat plane surface through a solid cone.

Switch colors and begin at the corner that is diagonal to the first corner, and repeat. If desired, switch colors twice more and do the opposite two corners. If you do all four corners your piece will look like the one pictured above.

Experiment with different distances for the nails, different colors, and with smaller curves. Hang you work where others can enjoy it.

About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.