String painting is such a cool and FUN way to make artwork. No artistic skill required! With simple supplies and zero experience you can make absolutely beautiful pieces of art! This kid-friendly technique is great for both adults and children.
We used printer paper in the photos you’ll see in this post. If you want to turn your creations into greeting cards, or art that will last a little longer – I definitely think they’re worthy of hanging on the wall – then I recommend using a stronger paper like cardstock or watercolour paper.
For the paint, we used liquid watercolors that I bought from Amazon (I’ll include the link below). You can also use ink or acrylic paint to make these paintings. Acrylic is a slightly different technique that I’ll show you over in this string paint art post.
String painting is about as messy as regular painting – it’s really not that bad. A cookie sheet (like I used in the video below) will completely contain any drips. When my kids tried this technique, we covered the kitchen counter in newspaper to protect it.
All three of my kids really enjoyed this project. My kids LOVED seeing the art that their string designs made. And so did I!
I’ve included LOTS of photos in the post below (mostly because they’re all so pretty I couldn’t decide which ones to delete!). You can see what worked for us… and what completely failed!
Check out our video on How to Make a String Painting using Watercolors:
Looking for even more fun and simple art projects? Here’s a few of our favourites:
String Painting: A Complete Guide
The full printable instructions are at the end of this post. Here’s a list of affiliate links to products on Amazon that are similar to the supplies we used to make this artwork:
- White printer paper (or card stock or watercolor paper)
- Acrylic yarn (or cotton yarn)
- Liquid watercolor paint (or ink)
We used regular acrylic yarn for all the paintings you’ll see below. We also tried cotton yarn and it worked really well too.
Cut a piece of yarn that’s about 18 to 24 inches long. The shorter your piece of yarn is, the easier it is to work with.
Optional: I found the yarn absorbed the watercolor paint better when it was soaked in water first. It doesn’t need to soak for long. A couple minutes while you’re preparing everything else will do the trick.
Pour the liquid watercolor paint into a small bowl. You’ll need the bowl to have at least 1/4 inch of paint in the bottom of it.
Place your piece of yarn into the bowl of watercolor paint, leaving about 4 inches of clean yarn outside the bowl so you can pick it up later.
Use a fork or a popsicle stick to get the yarn completely saturated with the watercolor paint. We cut wooden coffee stir sticks (from the dollar store) in half and they worked perfectly for pushing the yarn around in the paint.
Feel free to water down the paint a little if you like. The more water you add, the less bright the colours will be in your artwork.
The only colour we watered down was the purple because our purple is really dark and saturated.
Fold a piece of regular printer paper in half like a book.
Pull the clean end of the string out of the liquid watercolour paint and lay it out on one half of the paper.
Fold the paper in half.
Then place a small box such as a tissue box on top of the paper to hold everything down. Keep in mind that a little bit of paint will end up on the bottom of the box, so I recommend using something from the recycling bin.
While pressing the top of the box down on the paper, slowly pull out the string. Make sure you pull it out as straight as you can keeping the string as close to the same position as possible.
You only need to push down on the box gently. If you press it down really hard, it will be difficult to pull out the string. So if you notice the string isn’t moving very well, release some pressure from the box.
When you’ve pulled out the entire piece of string, you can open up your creation. You’ll have mirror images of your design on each side of the paper!
It’s really addictive! We tried all sorts of designs and patterns!
The images below will show you how our various string layouts turned out.
String painting with a single colour:
To make your string painting look more like flowers, cross the string over itself into a loop or two.
String painting with the string dipped in multiple colours:
This was my FAVOURITE method that made the prettiest paintings for us. Follow the same steps as above, but dip the same piece of yarn into 3 different colours.
Use the stir sticks to pull the yarn into each colour. Make sure the yarn is completely covered without any gaps.
They turned out SO PRETTY!
FAIL! Here’s what DIDN’T WORK for us:
Don’t use the yarn or string more than once. When the yarn is super saturated, you don’t get those cool looking lines coming down from the string. Just a solid block of colour.
Still pretty, so not a complete fail. See the photo below.
Here’s what they look like when you layer the colours:
FAIL! LOL I’m embarrassed to even show you this next one.
I KNOW it’s possible to layer multiple string paintings on top of each other. But it just didn’t work for us.
If you decide to layer different string designs onto your artwork here’s my tips so yours turn out better than mine:
- Make sure the first painting is completely dry before you add another string design on top.
- Use thicker paper like cardstock or watercolour paper so the paper doesn’t wrinkle as much.
- Check out this string art post from TinkerLab for more tips.
String Painting using Liquid Watercolors or Ink
- White Printer Paper
- Acrylic or Cotton Yarn
- Liquid Watercolor Paint
String Painting with One Color
- Cut a piece of yarn that's about 18 to 24 inches long. The shorter the yarn, the easier it will be to work with.
- Soak the piece of yarn in water for a few minutes to help the paint absorb in to the string.
- Pour the watercolor paint into a small bowl. It should have at least 1/4 inch of paint in the bottom. To make lighter colors, add a bit of water to the paint to dilute it.
- Place the yarn into the bowl of paint. Use a fork or a popsicle stick to completely saturate the yarn with the paint. Leave about 4 inches of clean yarn outside the bowl so you can pick it up later.
- Fold a piece of printer paper in half like a book. Open it, then pull the string out of the paint and lay it out on one side of the paper so that the clean end comes out at the bottom.
- Fold the paper so it's closed with the string inside. Place a tissue box on top of the paper to hold everything in place.
- Gently press down the top of the tissue box onto the paper. Pull the string straight out from between the paper, keeping it straight and in the same position as much as possible.
- Once the entire string has been removed, remove the tissue box and unfold your paper. You'll have mirror images of your design on each side!
String painting is such a fun and EASY way to create beautiful artwork! It’s amazing to see the beautiful designs you can create with a simple piece of string or yarn. This kid-friendly technique uses liquid watercolours or ink and regular printer paper. Such a great art idea for both adults and kids!
Here’s even more simple and fun art projects for you to try out!
For more fun craft ideas, check out our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids for 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!
Where to buy:
You can purchase Low-Mess Crafts for Kids from Amazon, or wherever books are sold: