wave like string print

Dynamic String Prints

String prints enable you to create delicate organic forms with simple materials, these beautiful elegant mono prints will delight and surprise you time after time. This is one of those magic techniques that can absorb you for hours, the ‘just one more’ syndrome means it is hard to stop.

dark coiled string print

string print with white border

As you go on you lose yourself in the process and it can become quite meditative, the flowing patterns seem to affect your mind and movements and you too begin to flow. If you want a calming activity that will focus your attention and uplift your spirits here is one to try.

Dynamic string prints video

Have a look at the video which shows some of the different types of pattern you can make with string prints.

Make it a printing party

Dynamic string prints are great for children (use diluted paint instead of ink if they are very young) and groups of people of any age, I have run this activity with community mental health projects and in care homes for older people as well as children at the after school club in the village.

two string prints in a wave shape

two string prints in a wave shape

One of the nice aspects of it is that it works better with people operating together – one (or more) to press down on the card and one to pull the string so, it is a very sociable and co-operative activity.


The materials are likely to be around already, if not they are easy to get:

  • strong thread
  • ink or diluted paint,
  • paint pots and brushes
  • paper
  • a piece of stiff card
  • newspaper, plastic gloves and aprons are a good idea

Lets print!

drawing explaining string prints

drawing explaining string prints

  1. Fold your sheet of paper in half, lay it on a pad of old newspaper.

2. Pour a small amount of ink into a heavy container (non spill)

3. Use a paintbrush to push a length of thread into the ink, press the thread against the side of the pot with your brush as you pull it out to remove excess ink and avoid drips.

4. Lay the inky thread in coils and waves on one half of the paper, remember to leave a tail hanging out

5. Fold the other half of the paper over, or lay a new piece on top.

6. Put a piece of stiff card on top, press down on the card (get more hands to help)

7. Pull the thread tail till all the thread is out.

Remove the card and open up the folded paper to see your new print!

 Keep experimenting…..

  • Try different types of cord / string / button thread/ embroidery thread etc
  • Try smooth shiny paper and rough textured paper, what difference does damp paper make?
  • Lay the thread in a wavy line, or try coiling it round.
  • Pull the thread straight out of the paper and the print will come to a point at the edge.
  • Move the string sideways as you pull it out – this will make a very different pattern.
  • Dip sections of one length of thread in different colours
  • Overlap prints in different colours to build up more complex images
  • Do pale prints and then darker ones over them to give an impression of depth
  • Try using dark paper and light coloured paint, or metallic ink on black paper
  • Add drawings or collage to your finished prints
two symmetrical string prints

symmetrical string prints

Here are some more examples of string prints to inspire you to try some different things…

Inky string laid on a background colour

Inky string laid on a background colour

Paint an area of background colour onto the paper before laying your string down.










String print with brown background

String print with brown background

This introduces a different texture and more colours to your print.









String print with yellow background

String print with yellow background

Multi coloured string print spiral

Multi coloured string print spiral

These two prints were made by pulling the string through a hole in the middle of the stiff card.

Instead of the line disappearing off the edge of the paper it leaves in the centre so your print has a different focus.






String print wavy spiral

String print in a wavy spiral


It is a bit fiddly to thread two pieces of inky string through a hole in the card,  but I think it is worth it!







Let me know how you got on and share photos of your dynamic string prints by putting them on instagram at #thecuriousprintmaker

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10 thoughts on “Dynamic String Prints

  1. Pingback: Yoga Mat Printing Part 1 - The Curious Printmaker

  2. Ward

    Not clear what you mean – ‘a hole in the middle of the stiff card’ – needs an illustration – where is the hole in relation to the upper half of the folded paper it is pressing on? Thanks T

    1. Emily Harvey Post author

      Hi Terence, thanks for your email – you are quite right to bring this up. I did the string print post and then added the extra bit about circular ones later after a bit more experimenting! I think it warrants a new post of its own really. I will put it on the list…..
      However to answer your question now; Use two sheets of paper and make a hole in the centre of the top sheet; pass the inky string through this as well as though the hole in the board, so there is a little tail sticking out of the board on top and a long inky string hanging down below, then lower the string onto the bottom sheet of paper. Press the top sheet of paper and board down and pull the ‘tail’ out all the way. When you lift up the top board and paper you should have 2 string prints, one on each sheet of paper.
      It is quite a fiddle to do but I was captivated by the result. I hope this helps you to visualise the process – a new post will follow shortly.

        1. Emily Harvey Post author

          Thanks for letting me know, it would be good to see the prints you make, you could email them to me (info@thecuriousprintmaker.co.uk) or if you use instagram put the hashtag thecuriousprintmaker

  3. Barbara Head

    What a great idea Emily! Can’t wait to have a go. Will look forward to monthly news email. Barbara


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