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Tracy Briggs, Published July 31 2013

The Great Indoors: String art gets a modern update

In the 1970’s, when I was a Campfire Girl, I spent a good deal of time trying to sell Campfire Candy.

I never did master it. (Maybe, that’s why I was so impressed years later to find out my good friend, Carrie, was named a “Campfire Candy Queen” for her top notch sales. I’m still a little jealous.)

Fortunately, Campfire wasn’t just about candy sales. We made crafts.

We’d spend hours making shellacked plaques, macramé plant holders and Shrinky Dinks. (For those born after 1980, Shrinky Dinks were pieces of plastic that you colored and then cooked in the oven. They’d shrink to half their size and dry hard.)

We also did some pretty far-out string art. It was simple enough, usually made from a kit that included a board, pegs and string. They gave us patterns so we’d know how to weave the string between the pegs.

I remember a Holly Hobbie masterpiece I made in fifth grade. Others made peace signs, or even those big-eyed owls. I’d bet money that my favorite 70s-loving meteorologist, Daryl Ritchison, has some string art tucked in his old bedroom closet. And you just know somewhere in the Brady Bunch house there was some. (I bet Jan made an owl.)

So, when Ashley Morken from the Unglued craft store in Fargo told me she’d been holding classes teaching people how to make string art, I was a little shocked. I pictured a bunch of middle aged Campfire Girls trying to relive their youth. But she assured me it’s not that at all.

Check out Pinterest.com and you’ll see that interest in modern string art is booming. It’s the same principal: You get a board, nails or pegs, and you weave string into a pattern. But Morken says there’s a difference. Modern string art tends to be a little more random and less geometric. It’s a fresh take on an old idea.

She says people are making string art for wedding and baby gifts, taking birthdates or anniversaries and weaving them into patterns. But the possibilities are endless.

Morken says it takes from a half-hour to two hours to make many medium-sized projects, and items to make the art can be purchased fairly inexpensively.

Basic instructions for modern string art

- Find a piece of wood (can be recycled wood for a rustic look.)

- Find a pattern for what you’d like to make and trace that pattern onto the wood in pencil.

- Pound nails into the outline of the pattern. Make sure the nails have heads on them. Colored nails are a fun touch.

- When all nails are into wood, make sure they’re the same height.

- Tie string or yarn into a small knot on one of the nails.

- Weave the string from nail to nail in whatever pattern you’d like.

When you get to the end of the string just tie it into a knot.

If you’d rather not tackle it on your own, Morken says they continue to hold workshops and classes at Unglued.

Watch ‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com