Crazy String

About a week ago, an exhibition of work by the artist Mark Bradford opened here at the DMA. One of the first things that children will probably notice as they walk into the galleries is that Bradford’s art is BIG! Whether it’s a monumental painting create by collaging billboard paper or comic book pages, or an ark-like sculpture that soars above your head, this art is hard to miss. The next thing they may notice? These paintings are made of much more than paint.
 

One of the many things I find intriguing about Bradford is the way he uses his materials. In many of his works, pieces of twine are buried under layers of paper, only to emerge in areas where the paper has been sanded away. Often the twine seems to be a “stand-in” for drawing, creating contours and outlines that are still visible even under layers of collaged materials. And, it makes the paintings rich with texture.

So in the spirit of Mark Bradford, here are some of my favorite string (or yarn) art projects.

Individually or as a group, drawing with string is a fun challenge!

Trade your pencil for a piece of string and try to create a drawing using only string or yarn. Contact paper is a good base so that your string stays in place without worrying about glue. Once your drawing is complete, add a paper backing and hang! {I did a similar project with my summer camp kids last year, but we laid out our designs on paper, then covered the entire thing with contact paper.}

Painting with yarn

Painting with yarn is always a big hit in the art studio. It’s a bit more messy than the traditional paint brush, but it really allows young children to capture their gestures on canvas or paper. We lay down tarps and wrap kids in aprons, so this is probably a project to do outdoors or in a place where it is ok to get messy. Dip pieces of yarn into paint, then throw, pull, splat that yarn onto your canvas.

String art is a project that will appeal to those math-loving artists out there. Technically, the result of all your twisting and turning is that straight lines form a curve (please don’t ask me to explain!). You’ll start off with a basic pegged frame, then twist your string or yarn around the pegs to form the criss-crossing pattern. Go to Family Fun for step by step instructions.

Yarn balls featured on the Make and Takes blog

And for something a little more crafty, make three-dimensional shapes out of string. Soak your yarn in liquid starch or Elmer’s glue, then lay pieces of yarn over a balloon, covering the entire shape in whatever pattern pleases you. Wait about 24 hours for it to dry, then pop your balloon and you’ll be left with an airy yarn shape. I found great directions here at the Make and Takes blog.

And don’t forget to visit the Mark Bradford exhibit—challenge your children to search for evidence of string in Bradford’s paintings!

Posted by: Leah

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Filed under 6 to 12 year olds, Art Projects, Children’s art, Kindergarten, PreK

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