String and glue can be used to make objects that are structural and rigid, but with organic, flowing lines and shapes. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating and dirt cheap DIY.
When I first stumbled across the YouTube channel of Джутовая Филигрань, I was absolutely fascinated. She is using string and glue to make ornate, decorative, structural objects, and her channel has incredible, detailed, step-by-step tutorials. She’s speaking Russian (I assume), but the onscreen text is in English and it isn’t hard to follow at all. So far I am only seeing this technique from Russian crafters, but I expect that, like the newspaper tube crafts, it will soon be more widespread. It’s so powerful and versatile that I can imagine using this method on a huge variety of projects. Let’s look at an example, from this video (chosen more or less at random – she has a lot of good videos):
She’s made this ornate box with string, glue, wooden skewers, paint, and then glued on some fake gems and pearls. To be honest, I don’t love the aesthetic of her work, but I love the method!
Breaking It Down
She starts this particular project by making a frame out of wood skewers glued and wrapped in string. Then she places a drawn template inside a sheet protector like so:
Then she uses diluted glue to lay string down over the pattern. Because she uses a sheet protector, the glue doesn’t adhere to the pattern.
When the panel is complete, she covers it with PVA glue and allows it to dry. Once it’s dry, it can be cleanly removed from the plastic, and it’s rigid, so it will stand on its own. It’s like quilling, but with structural integrity. Here are some of my personal experiments with this technique:
To curve the panels, she heats them with a blow dryer and then wraps them over a bottle like so:
Once they cool, they retain that curve. Genius!
Smoothing the Edges
I haven’t decided how I want to use this technique in any of my personal projects yet, but as you can see I have played around with it a little bit. The biggest challenge is cleaning up the glue edges: when you peel the string off the plastic backing, the glue has dried flat and leaves a lot of rough, ugly edges that really show up when you paint the object. She doesn’t really go into detail about how she resolves that, but I think she does it with scissors and trimming. I have also seen another Russian crafter burn the rough glue edges smooth with a soldering iron. I have done it with a craft knife and a bit of sand paper (okay, and a nail file), and haven’t been perfectly pleased with the result. But I do think that practice (and maybe a soldering iron) would give me nicer edges.
If you want to make things that are fluid and ethereal, but also structural, this might be a great way to achieve that look. The more layers of string you use, the stronger the resulting object. I would also like to try it with different kinds of string (maybe embroidery floss?) to see what other results I could get. Happy crafting!