String Art Patterns

String art or pin and thread art, is characterized by an arrangement of colored thread strung between points to form geometric patterns or representational designs such as a ship’s sails, sometimes with other artist material comprising the remainder of the work. Thread, wire, or string is wound around a grid of nails hammered into a velvet-covered wooden board.

Though straight lines are formed by the string, the slightly different angles and metric positions at which strings intersect gives the appearance of Bézier curves (as in the mathematical concept of envelope of a family of straight lines). Quadratic Bézier curve are obtained from strings based on two intersecting segments. Other forms of string art include Spirelli, which is used for cardmaking and scrapbooking, and curve stitching, in which string is stitched through holes.

String art has its origins in the ‘curve stitch’ activities invented by Mary Everest Boole at the end of the 19th century to make mathematical ideas more accessible to children. It was popularised as a decorative craft in the late 1960s through kits and books.

A computational form of string art that can produce photo-realistic patterns was introduced by Petros Vrellis, in 2016. He combined his technological background with arts by exploring the potential of new media through digital art and interactive installations.

The patterns he used in his artworks are generated from a specially designed algorithm, coded in openframeworks. The algorithm takes as input a digital photograph and outputs the knitting pattern. Over 2 billion calculations are needed to produce each pattern; not much of a load for today’s computers, but definitely an impossible task for the human brain. So, this is a new and unique type of knitting that could not have been implemented a few decades ago, without computers.

Many other artists used this art to create outstanding designs. For example, Slovenia-based artist Sašo Krajnc (aka Cvern) handcrafts incredible string art portraits made with unbroken pieces of sewing thread. Each piece appears like a textile spirograph, featuring countless lines of black thread interwoven and tightly wound around circular, nail-clad, aluminum and wooden frames.

Cvern’s portrait subjects include historical artists, such as Salvador Dalí; pop stars, such as Rihanna and George Michael; and political figures, including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. If you google “String Art”, you can find a lot of amazing artworks which can inspire you.

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