Art Lab for Kids: String printing

I was thrilled when IF asked me to share a lesson or two here with IF readers from my new book: Art Lab for Kids by Quarry Books. There are 52 “labs” inside the book with many more variations in each of the go further section. All of the lessons have been used over and over again with multi-aged groups that I have taught over the past 19 years. For this post I thought it would be fun to share a lesson that could be a blast to do outside (if it’s summer in your neck of the woods!) but of course you can do it inside as well. The materials are easy to gather and the whole experience could be enhanced with your favorite music! You can also get plenty of inspiration before starting by checking out Jackson Pollock’s large scale works. Ready? Okay! Let’s go!


– Liquid paint (tempera or acrylic) in three colors (or more!) of your choice
– Small containers for the paint
– Craft sticks
– Cotton string cut in lengths as long as your forearm – one for each color
– Heavy weight paper

Clear an area to work in and put down a few layers of newspaper or covering to protect the table.

1. Dip your string into the paint

2. Using a craft stick, immerse and coat the string with the paint (or fingers!)

3. Holding the string above your paper, let your arm drop and let the string go limp onto the paper

4. Continue with this motion until you are ready to change colors

5. Use one string per color to avoid mixing.

Go further and try these three ideas out:

– Fold the paper over the string and hold the paper with your hand wile you pull out the string.
– Drag the string around the paper in different directions.
– Fill the paper fully with one method, let dry and then use another method on top.

This is a great indoor/outdoor art experience for loosening up, making beautiful collage papers, a finished work or simply play! I hope that you try this out with a child (or not!) and if you are willing – share the results on Art Lab for Kids Facebook page!


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Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at
Thomas James

Posted by Thomas James on 07/12/12 under children's art,classes,IF Kids


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