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1970s Fads: String Art

By Patrick Mondout

String art, one of the artistic fads of the Super70s, was both pop art and a bit of a challenge. You could choose from a wide range of complete but unassembled kits ranging from owls to butterflies to ships (as shown on the right). These kits had all the components necessary to create your work of art including: a board (often covered by black velvet), nails (which had to be pounded into a pattern on the board: thus some assembly required), and just enough string to be wound intricately around the nails as stated in the instructions. Once finished, you had a nice piece of art to hang on your wall.

These pieces of pop art often took many hours of intricate work and were wonderful conversation pieces. Some of the more adventuresome string art lovers designed their own patterns or deviated from the pattern in the instructions (with limited success, to my recollection). And if you weren't careful with them, a string or two would break loose and the whole work would begin to unravel. Cats, in particular, loved string art.

Where Can I Get String Art Kits?

We are often asked that question. Your best bet is eBay. In fact, we have a list of such items at the bottom of the page!



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about String Art? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"My favorite string art was a black triangle with florescent orange string. Under the black light this was really trippy and was the perfect accessory to any cool pad. Mine hung next to the can tab art. You know, when soda and beer cans had the removable tab. We would take them and make long strands of tab garland to hang around the room and multi strings to hang in doorways and windows as curtains."


"I still own 2 of the sting art a simple sailboat my brother did and a little girl wearing rain gear and holding an umbrella that I made. I have looked for some for my children to do. They still bring back fond memories of my childhood and its not something that went in the trash. I'm happy to see a site honoring these. Maybe someday the company will start selling them again when they find people are still interested."


"I did a string art project in school. Each of us had to create our own design. I know it had four different colored orange strings blended into it but can't remember what it actually was. I think it was a Phoenix. Looked pretty cool."


"String Art is still popular--I have a book I purchased which was published in 1981 by Judy/Instructo. It has string art patterns that kids can do with needle and thread instead of nails and thread. Each pattern comes complete with directions for completion. I use the patterns with my students to teach math patterns and fine motor skills. The kids love it--we are finishing our string art snowmen on Monday."


"I had kits of these things. Here's what I remember of the instructions:
1. get wood, and fabric.
2. find a picture like a flower or tree
3. set nails along the main lines, usually equal distant, but no rule
4. start looping string around the nails.

Looked cool under black lights, same genre of velvet paintings."


"I remember string art very well. My mother was always doing it and I seem to remember it hanging in just about every room. The one that stands out the most to me was a fish. It was on a blue velvet background and done with silver string. There was also a suspension bridge if I remember correctly. I must admit some of it looked pretty cool! (Better than the sponge art. Does anyone remember that?)"


"My brother was only 13 at the time, 1972, and he was skipping school, and was sent to an all boys school. While there he made some of the greatest string arts, mostly ships, sailboats, and fishing boats. They were so cool. I remember a particular one was ever so cool when in the "black floresent lights"."


"I did a couple of string art pictures -- one was a deer that I made for my now husband when we were dating and the other was an American eagle for my uncle who has since passed away and I now have it hanging in my home. Both pictures have held up so well over all these years and people that come in my home and see them always comment on them. My kids would love to do one. Wish they would come back out in the stores."


"I've been trying to think of new and low cost ways to decorate my home. So I was at the thrift shop and they just aren't what they use to be. Anyway, it reminded me of this real cool butterfly string art I made for my Mom when I was 19 in Job Corps. When I first started it I wasn't sure if I would be able to finsh it. At the time I wasn't much on finshing things I started that were optional and since my mother was the one that was always reminding me of that I thought if I could finsh it it would show her that I was going to be OK. (You know in the "real world") Well, I managed to finsh it, it turned out great btw and it was the begain of a lifelong love of learning new crafts.

My mom, she never got it but it showed me that I could finsh things if I sit my mind to it. Even if it takes a long time, even if I have to do the samething over and over and over, and what it tought me most of all is not to be in such a rush all the time, slow down, pay attention, and get it right the first time."


"We had to make a string art in geometry class. Mine was of the Golden Gate Bridge. I really enjoyed making it."


"I loved doing string art back in the 70's and 80's and have been looking everywhere for kits. So glad I found ebay. Someone should start manufacturing these kits again, they would be surprised to know how much interest there is trying to obtain them. They are really fun to do and the finished product is really a work of art. As a matter of fact, I still have one that I completed hanging on my computer room wall."


"The String Art was my way of relaxing in the evening, waiting for the alarm bell to ring. My crew at the firehouse laughed when I first began to do the String Art but when my first project was finished, I received lots of compliments. It was the large owl."


"I am only 14, but once I was looking in one of my grandomothers chests and found an old string art kit. I strung it up and am looking at it right now. It is a koala in a tree. I always thought it was a cool design."


"My two oldest brothers were true kids of the 60. Myself and another brother were children of the Super70s. As such we had erector sets, crystal radios, and let's not forget model rockets (both solid fuel and water), chemistry sets and those transparent argonauts.

Anyway, my two older brothers each got String Art kits for Christmas. One had this enormous snail (black velvet background) and the other got the sailboat, much like your picture. The snail got completed and was on the wall quickly, I don't EVER remember the sailboat getting finished. Seems to me it might still be in a drawer at that old house, not through two later owners."

--Frankie P

"Just like all of the rest of the baby boomers today I'm feeling very nostalgic. I'm sorry to see that this fad has not resurfaced. I received many hours of enjoyment making my string art projects. I know I've made at least eight of them. I have six of them and they are still hanging on my walls. My favorite is a ship with two masts and gold thread for the sails. The last one I did was in the early Awesome80s of a deer on real wood."


"Believe or not, I have about 10 String Arts at home. One I created by scratch! Some are Wire Arts! I have one String Art Book and plan to make more original arts. And you thought it was a lost art!"




An original string art sailing ship from the Super70s.

Photo courtesy of Bucky Szulborski

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