Thursday, 13 October 2011

String art

String art (or pin and thread art), a kooky omnipresent 60s/70s decorative craft that lingered on the walls of my junior school, library, several friends houses, and the living room where I grew up.

The one on our wall was, unlike those below, merely 2D, strung by my mother, from a do-it-yourself set. An abstract design of silver string on black velvet cloth, that looked simultaneously like a boat, plane & bird, without actually looking exactly like either of those things. It was, quite possibly, my first experience of geometric abstract art.

I was fascinated to learn that this craft/art was in fact a Victorian invention, by the mathematician Mary Everest Boole (1832–1916), as a way of making mathematical ideas and geometry accessible to children. Why it became popular during the 60s/70s, I have no idea, although I imagine your mind could quite easily get lost in one, while under the influence.

These pictures below are all from 'Stringcraft in 3D' by Patricia & Brian Eales (1976). It's not so much the designs here that I find striking, but the lighting, and colours, that make them very otherworldly.

Text & scans © 2011 Gary Andrew Clarke 
Photos © Patricia & Brian Eales

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