Spirelli String Art


I don’t now about you, but I spend a lot of time surfing the web.  Sometimes I’m looking for inspiration and other times have no specific reason in mind….just could spend hours going from one place to another as things catch my eye.  If I make a visit to Pinterest, I’m really in trouble!  Very scary to see how fast the time goes and I haven’t actually made anything yet.  While surfing last week, I came across the subject of this post.

It’s called Spirelli String Art.  It’s certainly not a new art form.  It’s been around since the 1800’s.  Here’s what I found when I did a search for the history of it.  String art has its origins in the ‘curve stitch’ activities invented by Mary Everest Boole at the end of the 19th Century to make mathematical ideas more accessible to children. It was popularized as a decorative craft in the late 1960s through kits and books.”  Anyone remember the Spirograph toy when you were a kid?  I do and loved playing with it.  I guess this is part of the reason it caught my eye for card making and scrapbooking.

OK, enough history….So here is how it is done.  For the purposes of this post, I used cotton crochet thread, but you could use any type of string as long as it isn’t too bulky.  I only had an off white and a silver metallic thread on hand.  I wanted other colors so I dipped some of the off white thread in a watered down solution of acrylic paint in the colors I desired….cheap and effective.   I suppose that even some of the thinner, decorative yarns could be used as well.  You can use different shapes as long as they have “petals” and “valleys” to catch the string as you pass it over and under the shape.  The larger the number of petals you pass over the more the shape will be filled with string…the smaller the number passed over the less the shape will be filled.  A picture is worth a thousand words and in the one below I am using a simple scallop shape cut from white cardstock with my wonderful KNK Zing die cutting machine and Make the Cut software!  It has 14 petals and valleys…….

To begin, tape your string to the back of your shape.  Bring the string up at any valley (doesn’t matter where you start) and cross over your desired amount of petals on the front of the shape.  I have chosen 4 petals for this demonstration.  Place the string in the valley to the right of the 4th petal.  Now cross the string over the back of the shape and bring it up at the valley to the left of the beginning point (you have crossed over 4 petals again).  Bring the string across the front again, count 4 petals, and down in the valley to the right of that 4th petal.  Continue doing this until you have gone completely around the shape.  I am comfortable working in a counter-clockwise direction, but you can go in a clockwise direction and get the same results. Whatever is easier for you is the way to go.


So there you have it.  Takes a little getting used to at first, but once you’ve done a few they are so easy and fun and they only take a minute or two to make.  The photo frame is only one idea for using this.  There are so many possibilities. Use them on cards with a greeting stamped in the center….use two different color strings on one shape, first going over 4 petals then going over 2 petals, for example.  You can also use string for one pass and embroidery thread on the next pass for a different look.  Hope you have fun with this. Here are some spirelli shapes to get you started:

Spirelli Shapes in MTC, PDF and KNK Formats



23 thoughts on “Spirelli String Art

  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH, NANCY!!!! I bought 2 spirelli punches several years ago because they were on sale for a price I couldn’t pass up. 🙂 I’ve never used them. Now I can’t wait to play with them!!

  2. Wow, these are very cool! They look amazing. it definitely reminds me of my Spirograph I had as a kid! Thanks for sharing, Eileen!

  3. For a more subtle effect, you can use regular embroidery floss, using as many strands as you need to create the desired effect. It’s fun to play around with the different shapes and see the different looks you can get, depending on how many petals you pass over/under when wrapping.

  4. Wow… this is great. I must try this before my next cardmaking day with friends as I know a couple of them will like to try this. Thank you

  5. Such a new spin on an old concept. BUT so much easier than using nails or tacks!!! Have to try it now, Lucky me, I just got some trendy twine in the mail. I see a project in my future!!

  6. You can also use other shapes, but some are difficult to get the thread to stay on. Heart shape, square, rectangular shapes work also. Diamond shapes can work, and even be made into a Christmas tree to glue onto the front of a card. The threads (preferably metallic) are representative of garland, and you can add stickers etc. for decorations, or cut tiny ones out with your die cutter machines to glue onto the card. Limited only by your imagination.

    The round ones, or even square ones can be perfect for a small photo to be inserted under the threads, provided the middle opening is large enough to see the photo clearly. Just a thought 🙂

  7. Where can I purchase the punches or templates for the different shapes? I tried Ecstasy Crafts but they only had similar ones to ones I purchased from them in the past.

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