With strings attached
On page 13 of the edition dated 20 March 1974, the North East Leader Messenger featured a promotion for Ann’s Hobby Shop. Ann’s Hobby Shop used to be situated at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre on Montague Road, Modbury. Ann’s sold craft materials as well as completed projects, such as the work of string art held by Ann Barratt, who is pictured in the photograph.
During the 1960s, kits and books appeared on the market to help you create string art. It was still a popular pastime for both adults and children in the 1970s. String art was cheap and fun to do. Basically, you wrap coloured thread, embroidery cotton or wire around a grid of pins or nails in a geometric pattern, to make a picture. More complex designs feature multiple curves and intersecting circles to produce a kaleidoscopic effect. You can also build up your layers using different colour threads, which is an effective way to draw in the eye of the viewer to your design.
String art has a mathematical origin. At the end of the 19th century, intrepid teacher Mary Everest Boole invented ‘curve stitching’ or string geometry to help get children interested in mathematics, a subject that she loved. Typically designs are modelled on the ‘Bezier’ curve, as the straight lines of strings positioned at slightly different angles intersect. Spirelli stitching, which is another form of string art, is used to decorate cards and other paper crafts.
Today, there is a resurgence of interest in vintage crafts. There are websites devoted to string art design and instruction. Crafters have created a multitude of traditional and new innovative designs and have posted their ideas on Pinterest and YouTube. You can still purchase books and kits or download patterns online.