Who Invented String Art?


String art refers to a novel type of design that became popular in the 1960s. It is made up of colored strings bound together to form interesting geometric patterns and shapes. String art has its basis and origin in mathematics. One can design an endless variety of string art works.

Invention and History of String Art

Everest Boole

It is not right to say it was just one person who invented string art. Several brilliant minds helped develop it. The first of them was a remarkable woman named Everest Boole. Boole laws an Englishwoman who lived from 1832 to 1916. She was self-taught in mathematics at a time when ladies weren’t considered very bright. When Boole grew up, she worked in the academic field and married a fellow math expert, George Boole. Boole was an innovative teacher. She was the first to suggest that string art can be used to teach math to children. Boole herself used it to teach geometry. With string art, it was possible to make lines with curves.

Paul de Castejau

Next was a French mathematician and physicist, Paul de Castejau. He wasn’t the man who invented string art. But he created the algorithm for what would be called Bezier curves. String art is based on Bezier computations.

Pierre Bezier

The name “Bezier” is familiar to computer graphics artists because of the Bezier curve. Bezier was a well-known inventor, engineer and mathematician. After graduating from the University of Paris, he found a job as an engineer at an automobile company. There Bezier’s math skills were put to the test. He had to find a way to describe each point on a curve to help with manufacture and design. This was long before the time of 3D computer graphics. Bezier then invented the curve system named after himself. With the Bezier curve he could describe any second degree type of curve with just four points. It wasn’t exact, but it served the purpose. String art uses the same mathematical laws he found to create the illusion of curves from straight lines.

String Art Goes Mainstream

Bezier’s invention was publicized in 1962. Now it was intended as a serious mathematical tool. But the string art it made possible had too much potential for fun. The first to market it was the Open Door Company based in Los Gatos, California. Their chief designer was John Eichinger who calls his works “string mandala.” String art even found its way into classrooms, just as Everest Boole hoped it would.

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