Bicycle String Art (Version I)

Since my first string art project turned out pretty good, I’ve decided to go at it again, but this time on a smaller scale. This bicycle string art project came together over what turned out to be a long process of multiple changes. I had a look in mind before I started but it didn’t turn out as I expected. First, I intended to make the bike entirely black, using the leftover yarn from my Mt. Fuji project. However, the thread was much too thick for this bike and it looked crowded and bulky. I also tried with regular sewing thread but that was much too thin. The best result was going to be in the middle. After a trip to Michael’s, I came back with two colors of embroidery yarn, which is what you now see as the final look.

One final adjustment came from coloring the nails. I wasn’t planning on doing anything with them, but the text part wasn’t strikingly clear (due to style and size for the font) so I decided to paint the nails to make the text appear more uniform. I colored the nails around the gray thread with a black sharpie. Once that was done, I thought that I needed to make the green parts of the bike stand out more against the dark gray, and I wanted to paint those nails in a color as close to the yarn as possible. I couldn’t find a sharpie to match the yarn color so I decided to paint the top of the nails in the same color as the green board piece to the left. And with that, the project was complete.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS:

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 12 hours

STEPS:

TIP 1: This step is totally dependent on the type of wood you’re using as the base. I had two pieces of wood laying around that I cut in half and ended up with four. You can also use a solid piece and just paint stripes on it. It wouldn’t make a difference.

  • Once you have the wood pieces picked out, sand them lightly to smooth out the surfaces.
  • Using a clean rag, wipe it out clean.
  • If you need to glue pieces together, now is the time. I used wood glue to attach them together and used a tightly secured heavy duty strap to keep them together while the glue dried.  I did that first with the three pieces stacked together and later added the fourth perpendicular piece. Also, remember to wipe any excess glue before it dries. 
  • Once the glue has dried and the pieces are securely attached, it’s time to paint. Use blue tape for clean separation lines between different colors. I used four colors for this project, all Behr – Pewter Mug (gray), Life at Sea (blue), Creamy Spinach (green) and Polar Bear (white). Paint non-adjacent colors at the same time and wait for them to dry before moving on to the next section. 
  • After the paint has dried, move on to the string art part – nailing the model and stringing yarn around the nails.
  • First, pick out your bicycle and text – for the bicycle I used one of the free clip arts from Microsoft Office suites; the text is Lucida Handwriting.
  • Print the bicycle and text on paper and tape them to the board. I wanted to have heart shapes in the middle of each bike wheel, so I cut out two hearts and glued them over on the bike in the desired spot.
  • Now it’s time to get the nails onto the board. Go around the models and start hammering the nails in. It’s up to you how much space you leave between them but the tighter you can go, the closer you’ll be able to follow the shape.
  • After getting all the nails on the bike side, slowly remove the paper. Proceed to do the same for the text.
  • Now, the fun part – stringing yarn around these nails. I started with the gray part for the bicycle. First I did the spikes, twisting the yarn around each nail. Since there’s less nails in the inner part of the wheel versus the outer, some of the inner nails will have to have multiple loops over them. Gauge as you go. 
  • The seat also had a random pattern, but for everything else I followed the same technique as the mountain string art project. 
  • First, after you tie your tight knot around the first nail, take the thread and go around each nail from the top all the way around each nail on the bike; on the second pass go from the bottom around each nail; in the third and fourth pass you’ll be making ‘s’ between the nails, in one direction on the third pass time and the opposite the fourth and final pass, so you’ll end up with little ‘x’ shapes between each nail. Or you can do an entirely different pattern. This is just how I’ve been doing it. 
  • Here’s a little drawing that may (or may not) clarify the steps some more. The black circles are the nails and the green arrows are for the direction of the thread around the nails.
  • Great news – bike is done!
  • Now, do the same for the text. I left some extra lose thread at the beginning after tying the knot on the first nail, and, after finishing each word, retied the end part of the thread in the same spot, before cutting it. So essentially, I started and finished at the same place. I ended up with less lose strings that way, which should help keep the whole thing a little tighter.
  • This is optional – if you chose to paint/color the top of the nails, go ahead and do that. I used sharpie on the top of the nails with gray thread and actual paint on the nails with green thread. 
  • And now you’re really done..well, almost. Don’t forget to hang it! 

I made a small change to this version afterward, and here’s how version II bicycle string art project looks like.

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