11.6.11

Paint With Yarn

how to paint with yarn


This is a craft from one of my thrifted vintage magazines that I hadn't seen anywhere else, and would probably be a good project for kids. It actually seems like I remember doing something like this in grade school, but I can't quite remember. I've since found out that this art form originated with the Huichol people of Mexico. Their artwork is super colorful, beautiful and inspiring. Definitely worth checking out. You certainly don't need to be an artist so do this though. The only skill it really requires is patience, and the materials needed are pretty basic. It's a great project to use up any scraps of yarn you're hanging onto. I have a few balls of yarn left over from my various attempts at learning to knit, but there's not a great selection of colors. I enjoyed it though, so this will probably be my excuse to pick up some more. What's one more craft supply obsession anyway?

how to paint with yarn
Article from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring 1978

Supplies:
cardboard (I used a piece from a cereal box)
various colors of yarn
scissors
Aleene's Tacky Glue*
simple line drawing
pencil
carbon paper
popsicle stick to avoid sticky fingers

*This is what I used, but double-sided tape or spray adhesive might be good choices too!

how to paint with yarn

I transferred a line drawing of an owl (which is the outline of a cool owl trivet I have) onto the cardboard with carbon paper and a pencil (I know one "ear" is shorter than the other, but that gets covered up by the yarn later). Any simple line drawing will do, or you could even just do a freehand design.

how to paint with yarn
Use the popsicle stick to hold the yarn down, especially in any corners.
This keeps your fingers from getting all sticky.

I began with the eyes, using Elmer's Glue-All. It wasn't sticky enough however, and the yarn wouldn't stay where I wanted it. Then I tried using a glue gun. The hot glue was sticky enough, but dried too quickly, which meant I couldn't reposition the yarn if need be. If I didn't push the yarn into place right away, it hardened into a big lump. Plus, I burned my fingers a few times! Then I remembered that I had some Aleene's Tacky Glue. It's sticky enough to hold the yarn in place, but stays wet long enough so I could reposition if necessary. Great for oopsies!

how to paint with yarn
Seriously, this glue is awesome.

I decided to redo the eyes using the tacky glue, ignoring the lines I had drawn and centering the pupils. I also didn't like the way the wings looked so I tore those off to try again. I wanted them to look more feathery, so I glued the yarn down in the same wavy pattern I used for the feet. Much better!

how to paint with yarn
I really like the fuzzy owl toes! :)

When the owl was all filled in, I considered cutting away the cardboard around it and calling it done. Since this was my first time trying it out however, I figured I might as well fill out the whole thing. This was still in the trial and error stage after all. I chose a variegated yarn for the background, figuring it would look more interesting than a solid color. Once I got to the edge of the cardboard though, I realized that I couldn't keep winding it in one continuous loop around the owl. The corners ended up looking a little wonky because of that, but I think it looks pretty neat overall.

how to paint with yarn
Ta Da!

When my wooly owl was completed, I looked around for something else to play with. At this point, everything in the apartment seemed like fair game. I was envisioning yarn covered chairs, books, baskets, and even my laptop! I settled for a few records from my craft stash, and covered the labels with bright colors of yarn. Then I hung them on the wall, overlapping them slightly, for (almost) instant wall art.

how to paint with yarn

If I were an artist, I'd probably say something about how the spiral of yarn speaks to the spiral grooves in the record, or maybe how the soft texture of the fuzzy yarn contrasts with the hard, shiny surface of the records. Oh wait! I think I just did. :)

oneprettythingAs seen on CraftGossip.com
SewHappyGeekSew Happy GeekBWS tips button

18 comments:

  1. Lalitha21.6.11

    I love your idea! I am thinking of doing this with my Sunday School class, so my question is - how long did it take? Did you frame the picture when done?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm actually not sure how long it took, sorry! I had a few hiccups along the way while I figured out the best way to do it, and I also started one evening and finished the next day. I think the owl took me a few hours, but the records only took a few minutes, so I guess the simpler the picture, the quicker it's finished. Sorry I can't be more help!

    I didn't frame it, but I'm sure it's easily done. Maybe even make a border of sorts with yarn? Mine is just propped up on a bookcase, leaning against the wall.

    Good luck with your class! hope it goes well. :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so cute! Sounds like a great rainy day project if it takes a little longer to do! =) thanks for linking up to Make it for less at Simply Cadence!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Textured yarns might be interesting also

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey, just wanted to let you know I featured your link today at SewHappyGeek's Feature Friday!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oooh thanks Jenna!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Barbara - You're right! Textured yarns, different widths, different kinds of string...I'm sure this technique could be used for all kinds of fun things!

    ReplyDelete
  8. angela7.7.11

    I love love love this project, I'm going to gather the materials today and get started on it tonight! Thanks for sharing. Very clever. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yay! I'm glad you were inspired! I'd love to see pictures of what you make! :D

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are one funny zombie-lovin girl! hee hee! Wonderful tutorial...this is a perfect summer craft for my owl crazy daughter :) Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous10.7.11

    Wonderful and a smart idea. A fantastic recycled project for yarn workers like myself!
    Thanks!

    from, a basic knitter

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kelly & Anon - Thank you thank you thank you!!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is awesome! Linking up at Tangle Happy tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this fun tutorial. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love this idea!! The owl is adorable, and the record albums are fun! I am just starting a junk/art journal, and this would be a really fun technique to use in it, so thanks for the inspiration! ~tina

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love your owl! I might try something like that too...thanks for sharing this with us:-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your very welcome! My girls and I will probably give this a try on a hot hot day. Wishing you a happy Thursday. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous6.12.12

    I gave this a shot today, took about 3hrs but no where near as awsome as yours!-Bru

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous4.4.14

    can i use this for my school project?

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! It gives me the warm fuzzies. :)