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String Pull Monoprints

String Pull Prints

Art concepts and skills:

  • Bilateral symmetry

  • Line

  • Primary colors

  • Organic shapes

  • Printmaking

Benefits of this project:

  • It’s success-oriented with a pleasing design at any skill level

  • It engages the sense of touch

  • Can be adapted for those with sensory aversions

  • Open-ended exploration and discovery can be encouraged once the process is learned.

Materials needed:

  1. Acrylic paint (we chose 3 primaries)

  2. Water

  3. Pre-cut string, approximately 1 1/2 - 2 feet long, depending on paper size. We used 3 pieces of string per print.

  4. Watercolor paper or thick drawing paper - 2 sheets per student

  5. Heavy books or another flat object for weighing down the paper


For prep, we added just a tiny bit of water to each of 3 medium-sized bowls of acrylic paint. We decided to go with thy’all primaries because it’s a great opportunity for discovering color-mixing.

Have some pre-cut string handy. 3 pieces of string are needed for each print (or just re-use the string in the same color once printed).

Dip a piece of string and submerge it into a bowl of paint. Then “squeegee” the paint off he string using your fingers. To keep fingers clean you can use gloves but we enjoyed being messy ;) Make a design on the paper with the wet string by arranging the paint-y string on a sheet of paper. Repeat for the other 2 colors. Alternatively, you could just use one color, like black, and focus on contrast.

This is key: be sure to leave a small section of each string hanging off the paper somewhere to pull when ready!

Print pull set-up: sandwich your string composition with another sheet of paper and place some heavy books or other weighted flat object on top (preferably something you don’t mind getting messy). Now for the fun part! Carefully pull out each string, and then lift the weights off and let your students magically reveal their bilaterally symmetrical-ish prints! I did teacher demo first and let the students try with assistance as needed. Finally, I let them explore on their own- they loved it! Especially pulling the strings and revealing their unique designs.

We liked doing this as a partner activity, with students helping one another. We also found that high quality paper yielded beautiful results. We enjoyed talking as a group about the images we found in the organic shapes! What do you see?

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