If someone were to ask you to draw a picture, what’s the first thing you would reach for? Crayons? Colored pencils? Markers? Chalk? Pastels?

Those are probably some of the drawing tools that would immediately jump into your mind. But what about a needle and thread? You probably didn’t think of those, did you? But those tools are exactly what thread artists might think of first.

Thread art can take many different forms. For example, a knitted or crocheted sweater can be a work of art on its own. But many knitters and crocheters can also use their needles and yarn to create beautiful images.

Likewise, those who practice needlepoint and quilting can make fabric items that are as lovely as any painted or drawn picture. Even young children can try their hand at string art by wrapping string or yarn around a series of nails embedded in wooden frames.

Using needles and thread to create works of art has a long history. Hundreds of years ago in medieval Europe, large woven images hung on walls. Some could be hundreds of feet long and broken up into multiple panels. These pieces of thread art told grand stories and were called tapestries.

One of the most famous examples of a tapestry is the Bayeux tapestry. Over 230 feet long, it depicts the Norman conquest of England and features William the Conqueror as its primary figure. Tapestries were valuable pieces of art, because they could be moved easily and displayed in many locations. In addition to wall hangings, tapestries could also be incorporated into pillows, blankets and chairs.

Tapestries can use many different colors of thread. Tapestry threads can also be blended and layered in three dimensions. These unique characteristics give tapestries and look and feel unlike any other form of art. When displayed in different lights, their colors and textures can take on different qualities when viewed from different angles, making tapestries as intriguing as any painting.

Drawing with thread is not as easy as drawing with a crayon or a colored pencil. It’s also not easy to erase your mistakes! Thread artists are very skilled at using their tools — needles, thread, string, pins and nails — to create drawings that look like they could have been drawn with a pencil.

Some thread artists have even taken creativity to a whole new level. Toronto thread artist Amanda McCavour creates thread drawings that seem to float in the air. How does she do it? She creates thread drawings by using a fabric that dissolves in water. Once she has her thread creation just like she wants it, she dissolves the fabric, leaving a drawing consisting only of thread suspended in mid-air!

50 Join the Discussion

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  1. Comment= If you write with thread, I can tell that they kinda look like you in 3D or something.
    Question= When they paint or do things with thread, are they really making it 3D art or are they just painting?
    Prediction= It might be about what you think when you try to help animals.

    • Hi Korean! Thread is usually 3D while painting is traditionally 2 Dimensional; however, artists are coming up with new ways to break the stereotypes of art everyday! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Hi Harry! Isn’t is crazy how the back can look totally different than the front?! Art has so many different perspectives! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  2. THOUGHT: Yeah, agree, but it should also be quilting/knitting/sewing.

    CONNECTION: In our art class we are weaving patterns, and I wonder if we can use different threads or is it just one kind of thread?

    WWOTD: Determination is a characteristic of Obama.

    PREDICTION: I think tomorrow’s Wonder is about rare Albinos.

    • Hi Tam! Quilting, knitting, and sewing definitely qualify as art with thread! That’s so WONDERful that your class is weaving patterns! Are you making a class quilt? Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  3. Thought: My video didn’t work.
    WWOTD:Characteristics-strong aspect or quality of something/someone.
    Prediction:I predict that the next wonder will be about…some rare animal.
    Connection:I didn’t really connect because my mom taught me how to use a needle and thread but not for drawings or art.

    • Hi Erick! We’re sorry that you’re video didn’t work! Definitely try reloading the webpage and it should work! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Erick! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about a lion, a tiger, or an elephant OR about a great gray owl.

    Thanks so much!
    Ms. Davidson’s Science B

    • Hi Ms. Davidson’s Science B! Those are some great WONDERS! We can’t wait to WONDER with you more tomorrow! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  5. THOUGHT: Yes, I think that you could draw with art.
    CONNECTION: I used yarn to make art during art class.
    WWOTD: Never give up is my characteristics.
    PREDICTION: It is probably about the sun bears.

  6. Our class is wondering:
    - How many artists in the world can draw with thread?
    - How do thread artists make their portraits?
    - How much time does a thread picture take?
    - Why does thread look like pencil even though it is thread?
    - Can children make pictures out of thread?

    • Hi Ms. Tesa’s Class! Those are great WONDERS! We think that there are lots of artists that can draw with thread! Especially if you consider quilting, knitting, sewing, etc! Artists often make portraits by first taking a photograph of the person and then using the photograph as a reference during the art process which probably takes a long time! Depending on the type of thread, it can look very similar to a pencil with its thin line shape. Children can definitely make pictures out of thread, and we would love to see you try it! We bet they would look WONDERful! Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Ms. Tesa’s Class! :)

  7. That video was skipping really weird. I sent you guy’s a comment yesterday, and it said it went through, but I don’t see it. Have a good day! Destiny

    • Hi Destiny! We’re so sorry that you’re video is skipping! Try reloading the webpage and hopefully it will work! Check back on the Wonder that you commented on, because we WONDERed back at you! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  8. THOUGHT: I like the video.
    CONNECTION:I have thread before.
    WWOTD:Determination is a characteristic of Obama.
    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about an extinct animal.

    • Hi Elizabeth! We are so glad that you are WONDERing with us and enjoying the video! What did you thread before? We’d love to hear about it! Thanks for WONDERing with is, Elizabeth! :)

    • We would love to see what you’ve drawn, Danessa! We think it’s probably WONDERful! Have you ever done art with thread like the video? Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  9. THOUGHT:That lady is very talented.

    CONNECTION:I know how to thread, but not that well.

    PREDICTION:I predict that tomorrow’s wonder is about a very rare animal.

    WWOTD: characteristic

    EXAMPLE:Determination is a characteristic

    • Hi Keith! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! We bet if you are determined enough, that you could thread as well as the woman in the video! :)

  10. WOW! THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!!! I never knew that you could draw with thread!
    But how long would it take for someone to make a person from drawing with thread?? :D

    • Hi Jade! We are so glad you’re WONDERing with us! We think it might take them a while to make a whole person, but it would be pretty WONDERful! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  11. THOUGHT: I thought it was cool.
    PREDICTION: Tomorrow’s wonder is on snakes
    CONNECTION: I like art.
    WWOTD: charactristic

  12. THOUGHT:I liked it a lot.
    CONNECTION:I have used thread before.
    PREDICTION:I think tomorrow’s wonder will be rare.
    WWOTD:Characteristics

    • We are so filled with joy that you enjoyed the WONDER, Tiffany! What did you use thread for? Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  13. THOUGHT:The video was interesting.
    CONNECTION: I know someone that sews with thread.
    WWOTD: CHARACTERISTICS-strong aspect or quality of something.
    EX: Determination is a characteristic of George Bush.

    • Hi Kylee! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! We are glad that you enjoyed the video! What does your friend sew with thread? What is your favorite characteristic about yourself? :)

  14. THOUGHT: That was cool how she drew stuff with thread.
    CONNECTION: We are sewing in art class.
    WWOTD: Determination is a characteristic of Obama.
    PREDICTION: I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about a lion.

    • That’s WONDERful that you’re sewing in art class, Chett! What are you making? Roar, that’s a WONDERful prediction! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  15. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about big cats like a tiger or a lion OR about snakes!

    Thanks so much,
    Ms. Davidson’s Science A

  16. While watching and reading today’s wonder we learned that you can make art and pictures out of thread. We also thought the art displayed on the video was cool. We wish we had a talent to make art with string. We are WONDERing how did you find this artist, and we would like to meet her ourselves! We also wondered why she took 150 pictures of her subjects? We wonder how long it takes her to complete one beautiful piece?

  17. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about a rhinocerous OR about yaks or ox. We are excited to WONDER with you tomorrow!

    Thanks so much,
    Ms. Davidson’s Science C

    • Hi Ms.Davidson’s Science C! Those are WONDERful WONDERs! We can’t wait to WONDER with you tomorrow! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  18. Hey guys, its Mike from yesterdays WONDER of the day. Do you remember me?This was a great WONDER. Thanks for this amazing WONDER! I would have never thought if you can draw with thread. I would first think of using pastels or crayons. Not until this WONDER! When was thread made? When was the idea of drawing with thread created? Can you tell me a WONDER that relates to How is thread made?
    Thanks,
    Mike

    • Hi Mike! Thanks for WONDERing with us! Thread has been around for a long time and has actually been used to communicate history throughout the ages using tapestries. And we can tell you that it took a lot of hands and time! Thanks for WONDERing today! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you draw with thread?
  • What techniques do thread artists use to create their works of art?
  • What is a tapestry?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to explore the world of thread art in greater depth? Recruit a friend or family member to help you check out one or more of the following fun activities:

  • What kinds of art can you make with string? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Check out six of the coolest thread art projects you’re likely to see. From Batman’s signal to words spelled out with string, these projects will inspire you. Take that inspiration and try your hand at a string art project of your own. With the help of an adult, can you make your own thread art heart?
  • Want to see more examples of thread art? Jump online to check out Barb’s Threat Art Gallery. Click on the links on the left side of the page to see examples of her work, including a ballerina, blue moons, irises and bluebells. What do you think? Which threat painting is your favorite? Why? If you could draw anything with thread, what would you draw?
  • Ship ahoy! Can you make a string art sailboat? You’ll definitely need the help of an adult for this challenging project. Check the list of required materials and make a trip to your nearest craft supply store. You’ll need to break out your geometry skills to help you get all the right angles for your sails. Once you have your materials and the template downloaded and printed from the website, you can set aside modern technology in favor of tried-and-true “old” technology in the form of a hammer and nails. Be sure an adult helps you construct your project. Once you have the sailboat outlined, you’ll be ready to string your thread into a beautiful piece of artwork you can hang on your wall!

Still Wondering

Explore EDSITEment!’s History in Quilts lesson to learn more about how people from different cultures and time periods have passed down the tradition of telling stories with quilts.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes an up-close look at a rare animal. How rare? Join us tomorrow to find out!

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