Trying String Pulling

The other day my friend Del wrote a guest post for me about string pulling.  Now, I’ve had this image…

2018-01-10 12.39.42

…from Pinterest sitting in my “things to try” folder for absolutely ages.  Then one day on Facebook I see that Del has tried that very thing!  And made such a beautiful job of it too.

So I finally decided to have a go.  My first attempt wasn’t so great – the red one.

2018-06-08 21.08.07

A little bit too much paint. It was about this time that I decided I would message Del and ask her to write a tutorial.  But when I’d grabbed the equipment and taken it to my temporary art studio (in bed because I have the flu)…

2018-06-08 21.08.10

2018-06-08 21.08.14

…I grabbed two types of string.  The red one was done with proper string, like twine.  The purple one was done with a thinner knotting cord, and I scraped the excess paint off too.  That seemed to work a lot better.

2018-06-08 21.16.14

2018-06-08 21.16.18

Which is when I decided to get fancy.  I went with several bits of string, and a rainbow!

2018-06-08 21.23.592018-06-08 21.26.19

It came out really pretty, but I wasn’t quite quick enough and the red paint started to dry before I did the pulling.

If you’d like to learn how to do it, definitely go and read that guest post from Del.  It’s very good, and includes sensible instructions like using a long piece of string instead of the piddly little pieces I used in the rainbow piece.  And there’s a mesmerizing video of some string actually being pulled.

She also advocates trying different mediums and different strings, and even not putting paper on the top before you pull.  I definitely intend to experiment more.  Once I’ve gotten over the flu.


Guest Post: String Pulling

I have a second guest post for you!  The lovely Del from Del’s Doodles posted some beautiful art last week and I just had to ask her to write a post about it.  It doesn’t have many in-progress pictures but you’ll get some in the next post when I have a go of my own.  Over to Del!


A friend recently shared a video to my timeline where a series of people are demonstrating the pulled-string-painting technique.  (Note from Colette: I did some snooping and found the video.)

This technique is a crazy simple method of creating striking, abstract artworks; it’s low-budget, low-maintenance, and low-mess!  It’s pretty much what it sounds like – you dip a piece of string in your painting medium (paint or ink), and then pull it either between two pieces of paper, or along one pre-painted piece of paper, to get a swirly, organic abstract shape.


A piece of string – I tried sewing thread with ink, and thin crochet acrylic yarn with paint. The string made very fine, delicate lines, where the yarn held more paint and left thicker, bolder imprints.  You’ll need pieces of string around 2x the length of the paper you’re working on.

Paper – you can use any paper, and I’d recommend the cheapest paper you can get for practicing on, but the technique can get quite wet so for your ‘proper’ attempts, thicker paper like card or watercolour paper is better.

Paint/Ink – I started with acrylic artist inks because I didn’t feel like mixing down my paint into a more watery consistency.  Inks are good because they require less effort to get started, and you can even bypass the palette if you dip your string straight into the ink bottle.  Some inks of mine were better than others, with the cheaper inks drying a bit quick and the more expensive inks, like Lukas and Windsor & Newton, making nice pulls. For paint, you want something similar in consistency to ink, but not too watered that the colour isn’t vibrant.  If your paint is too thick it’ll ‘clump’ along the string, so you don’t want that either.

Some kind of poking device – I used a wooden chopstick and a plastic palette knife with a thin tip. This is for helping get the paint on (and off) the string.

A heavy-ish object, like a hardback book or a block of wood.


Dip your string into your painting medium.  If you’re working with paint in a palette or saucer, use your chopstick (or equivalent) to poke the string into the medium and make sure it’s well coated.  Hold on to the tail end, and don’t paint the last few cm.

As you pull your string out, pin it against the edge of the palette with your stick and press it down lightly, dragging the string out between the stick and the palette – this will squeeze any excess liquid from the string so that it’s not too paint-laden.

For pulling between two pieces of paper:

Place the tip of your string near the top of your paper, and then drape it in loops and swirls down to the bottom, leaving the paint-free tail end sticking over the edge of the paper.

Place your second piece of paper squarely over the first so that it’s lined up, and then place your heavy object down on top.  The purpose of this object is to distribute even pressure rather than to press down; if it’s too heavy and you’re having trouble pulling the string out, find something lighter; if your string is stuttering as you pull it out, it’ll leave stutters in the paint lines.

Hold the unpainted edge of your string and pull it as smoothly as you can out from between the two pieces of paper.  Try to do this in one smooth action – don’t yank it out, but don’t take too much time either; you want to do it while the paint is still wet enough to smear all the way down the paper.

Lift your book up, carefully lift the top piece of paper, and you should see two lovely mirrored paint shapes! 🙂

For pulling along one painted surface:

Paint the surface you’ll be pulling along with paint that will stay wet for a minute or two, like thick acrylics. While it’s still wet, dip your string as above, and then drape it along the surface just like you would for pulling between two sheets. Make sure the string is touching the surface along its entire length; press it down with your stick if you have to. Then, take the tail end, and slowly pull the string downwards and off the surface. You should see it dragging through the wet paint and leaving lovely patterns 🙂

That’s it! Experiment with different painting mediums and different strings to get an effect you like that you’re comfortable working with – and most of all, have fun! 😀


You can find Del on Facebook at Del’s Doodles, where she does all sorts of beautiful art pieces – including mandalas.  I intend to follow some of her tutorials soon.  She sells some of her pieces too, and they’re stunning!

Random Craft Quiz – Part 5

I’m getting better at this.  It’s only a month since the last part this time.


41) Have you ever bought craft supplies in bulk?

Quite often.  If you know you’re going to use them, it’s cheaper in the long run.

42) Have you ever participated in a crochet/knit along?

A couple.  I started making Sophie’s Universe a few years ago but couldn’t decide what yarn I wanted to use and decided to make three.  I got distracted and ended up with two small Sophies and a stalled one.  I have since turned the two small ones into cushions…

…and I fully intend to finish the other one at some point.

43) Have you ever completed a year-long project?  (Mood blanket, temperature blanket, etc)

Many projects that have taken more than a year, but no specific year-long project.

44) Knitting, crocheting or both?

Both.  And cross stitch.  And embroidery, and badge making, and beading, and hama beads, and sewing.  I like to say that if I don’t already do a craft it’s probably on my list of crafts to try.  I do a lot of them.

45) Patterns or improvised?

Depends on the craft.  Generally with knitting and crochet I’ll follow patterns.

46) Stick to one project or keep multiple going at once?

Hahahahahahahahahaha!  At last count my list of WIPs was more than 40.

47) Wind new yarn or leave it as it is?

I usually leave it as it is, until it it’s mostly used and collapses into a tangle.  I don’t mind tangles though.  I find untangling them to be quite therapeutic.

48) Buy supplies online or in person?

Online is nearly always cheaper.  We don’t have any Friendly Local Yarn Stores in my area, so there aren’t really any independents to support.

49) Make gauge swatches or hope for the best?

I like to live dangerously.  Rarely make a gauge swatch… although I rarely make projects that really need them.

50) Favourite hook/needle size?

I do 90% of my crochet and knitting with double knit yarn, so usually a 4mm-4.5mm hook/needle.


That’s it!  More than 18 months after I started, I’ve finally finished this random craft quiz.

Many Mini Aliens

Every year since 2009 I’ve assigned myself a yearly challenge, or six.  This year I forgot all about it until about a month ago, when I decided to do a Half-Yearly challenge starting in June instead. Since the challenge I ended up choosing is crafty, I’m writing about it here as well as on my personal blog.

I came up with a few options, then couldn’t narrow it down further.  So I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry and Reddit asking my friends to pick a number between 1 and 4.  They didn’t know what they were choosing for (something I do quite often), but the options I had written down were:

1) Write a blog post every day.
2) Turn a cloud into a drawing every day.
3) Knit a mini alien a day.
4) Make an origami something a day.

As the votes came in, I realised that making 1 mini alien a day for half a year would result in more than 180 mini aliens.  That’s a LOT.  They sell really well when I do school fairs, but that is still practically an invasion of mini aliens.  So I decided that if that option should win, then I’d make 2 a week instead.

When the voting ended, option 4 had 3 votes, options 1 and 2 both had 5 votes, and option 3 won with a massive 11 votes. So, with the plan to make 2 mini aliens a week, I drew up a page in my bullet journal to keep track of them.  Which is when I realised that the start of June is not the start of the 2nd half of the year.  Bit of a brain blip there.  So I’m doing a Slightly-More-Than-Half-Yearly Challenge instead, and will be making 62 of these adorable little guys…

2016-03-10 12.52.11



One of the current Twitter trends I’ve noticed is #MerMay.  It popped up on some feeds I follow, and was shared by some others. From what I saw, it was a challenge where artists draw a mermaid a day.

I’ve done some quick research and apparently MerMay was created by artist Tom Bancroft, who has worked on some of my very favourite movies, including The Lion King.  And it also turns out that there’s more to MerMay than just drawing one a day.  There are also prompts.

Maybe next year I’ll partake in the challenge properly, but this year I’ve just drawn a few mermaids.

The first one I did was this one…

2018-05-04 13.33.41

A lot of my learning to draw so far has been copying images I like, and I usually find them on Pinterest, which makes it very hard to trace the original artist.  I did a reverse image search but all I find is links to the image on Pinterest.  If you know who drew this, please let me know.

2018-05-05 17.26.58

My next attempt was baby Ariel…

2018-05-05 15.25.50.jpg

Again, I couldn’t find the original artist.  I promise I will start paying more attention to this.

2018-05-05 17.29.44

I need to work on positioning my pieces on the page, as evidenced by this lovely mermaid’s midriff being over the perforations on my sketchbook.

2018-05-05 15.35.03

Original image from Pinterest again – maybe I should find a new source.  Any suggestions?

2018-05-05 17.29.50

At this point I moved on to original characters.  I’m trying to do more of that.

I like kind of everything about this one apart from her face.  Face was much fail.  Also, positioning fail again.

2018-05-15 22.57.01

Next up wasn’t original, but inspired by a pin that was gifted on r/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon.

2018-05-16 00.14.11

I decided I hadn’t drawn enough rainbows so…

2018-05-16 00.31.09

My final (so far) MerMay is an original piece, taking an original character…

2018-05-15 23.23.50.jpg

…and giving him a tail.

2018-05-16 00.53.26

That’s it so far, but there’s still a whole bunch of May left so there may be more mermaids coming.

Follow me on Twitter @By_Colette to see more MerMays and other crafty madness.



Origami World Records

The other day I posted about my attempt to make the smallest origami sonobe cube I possibly could, and I promised to follow up and see if anyone had made one smaller than my 1cm one.

My Google-Fu is not strong, but I found this page on where their users have submitted the smallest cubes they’ve made.  It starts off with a 2cm cube, which made me excited because mine was smaller than that!  It progresses though, and gets down to 4mm!  That’s insanely small.

Note: the page does display a very dodgy looking 3mm entry, but I have to agree with the comments that it looks fake.

I also found this page, on which lists a whole bunch of origami related world records.  There isn’t actually an entry for the smallest cube, but there are some other entries that made my brain hurt just thinking about.

For instance, the “Model Folded From Smallest Square”.  0.36×0.3 mm.  MILLIMETERS!!!  Apparently the guy – a watchmaker in Spain – used a 20x magnifier, and the result was about the size of a full stop.  Jeeeeeezzz.

As I said, my Google-Fu is not strong, but I tried finding pictures of the origami piece and all I really found was other sites listing origami records, who used almost an identical paragraph as like this one, which also included a photo.


(Semi-Google-Fu skills found no other instance of this photograph online.  That is the exact image size from – I didn’t make it tiny.)  It’s supposed to be a bow tie, but all I see is a square.

I also found a response on a question/answer website which mentioned the photo and didn’t show it, then linked back to the RecordHolders website (which also didn’t have the photo).

I did go to the home of records – – and set up an account so I could a full search.  They have no record for the smallest origami cube, and no record for the model folded from the smallest square either.  Maybe I should submit my 1cm cube.

As for my best friend Cayden – mentioned in lots of my posts, and in the last one I’m following up on – he isn’t 100% sure but he thinks his smallest cube was made with 1″ paper, which beats me.

He has provided me with a picture he had of some very pretty cubes, but it’s an old image and not taken to prove size so doesn’t have any reference really.  Still – pretty and awesome.


He followed up the next day with two pictures.  The first was this one, with a 13mm cube – I still win.

2018-05-10 13.56.07

And then he sent this one… 8mm.  Cayden wins.


Update: the next morning Cayden sent me this one.


Show off.

Making Things, Then Making Them Tiny

As discussed before, when I do origami pieces I have a tendency to repeat the same piece over and over again.  Like these sonobe cubes.

2017-08-08 19.48.15

And when I’ve made seven hundred zillion of something, I like to see if I can make as small a version as possible.

2017-08-08 19.49.15

The cube on the bottom of this pile is made from 12×12″ craft paper (which was kinda difficult because I only have card stock which is hard to origami with.)

2018-05-03 16.14.06

The next cube is using standard 6×6″ origami paper.  The cube on top of that uses a quarter of that paper, so 3×3″.  The next one is a quarter of that, and so on.

Except… that the final teeny tiny square presented an issue.

These are the paper sizes for the first 4 cubes…

2018-05-03 16.10.20

As you can see, each time I’m using a quarter of the previous size.  Which means that the 5th cube should be made with 0.75×0.75″ paper.

2018-05-03 16.10.28

That is very, very small.  Folding the sonobe units themselves wasn’t too bad. But putting the cube together proved impossible for my big chunky fingers.

2018-05-03 12.27.25

So I gave up on that size, but I didn’t want to give up altogether.  I was convinced I could get a smaller cube than the one using 1.5×1.5″ paper.

Up til now I’d been folding the paper in half both ways, and cutting the paper into quarters…

2018-05-03 12.31.43

To get a size between 1.5″ and 0.75″ I had to fold the paper in half, then fold that half in half to create a 3/4 line.  Then fold up into a triangle to make a square, before cutting the shape out.

2018-05-10 01.47.32

Which left me with a 1.125×1.125″ square.  Which was nicely tiny, but a lot easier to work with.

2018-05-03 12.57.46

So this is the range of sizes I ended up using…

2018-05-03 16.10.39

And this is how small the smallest cube is.

2018-05-03 16.08.49

(I have been very confusing and given paper sizes in inches, and then measured the cubes with a cm ruler.  Sorry about that.)

Here are all the smaller cubes…

2018-05-03 16.09.03

…and the large cube all on it’s own because it wouldn’t fit with the others.

2018-05-03 16.09.14

And finally, here they are all with the size paper they were made from.

2018-05-03 16.12.50

So yeah.  Making something, then making it as small as possible.  I’m almost certain that someone out there has made one smaller. Someone with tinier fingers than I, or the ability to use tools to do their origami.  My best friend does origami too, and I’m sure he’s probably done one smaller.  I’ll do some research about that and get back to you.

2018-05-03 16.08.16