ArtLine S02E01 | Farah Mahdi | Lebanese String Artist

Farah Mahdi is a Lebanese handcraft string artist. She’s a proud mother of two, a painter, flower lover, wreath maker, and she creates handcraft gifts at her Hamra-based studio.

ARTICLE by Yousif A. Salame

We interviewed Farah for our first episode of ArLine second season produced by Fine Line Production in support of Lebanese artists.

If you’re a Lebanese artists and would like to be interviewed as part of our Art Line series, please follow this link and fill in the application.

String art is the handcraft of creating drawings using nails and threads. String art, or pin and thread art, is characterized by an arrangement of colored thread strung between points to form geometric patterns or representational designs such as a ship’s sails, sometimes with other artist material comprising the remainder of the work. Thread, wire, or string is wound around a grid of nails hammered into a velvet-covered wooden board.

Artists from around the world continue to make their name through being able to execute string art uniquely. Their creations attract a global audience with an appreciation for intricate design. The best way to know where string art will go in the future is to understand what gave birth to this innovative visual art.

Though straight lines are formed by the string, the slightly different angles and metric positions at which the thread intersect gives the appearance of Bézier curves (as in the mathematical concept of envelope of a family of straight lines). Quadratic Bézier curve are obtained from strings based on two intersecting segments.

“I’m mostly inspired by Nature especially the spring season, trees, flowers, sky, clouds, sea and space, I get inspired by many artists but I love van Gogh the most because I’m close to Impressionism, I get motivated by my family especially my 2 boys who admire art in all its shapes and styles. My dream is to work with them in many projects When they grow up.“ Says Farah.

A Brief History of String Art

The first person known for forming curves out of straight lines is Mary Everest Boole. The Englishwoman used what is known as curve stitching to help teach children mathematics. She would go on to publish a book in 1909 titled Philosophy & Fun of Algebra. The curves Mary Everest Boole used in her teaching methods became known as the Bèzier curve.

Inspired by an algorithm created by French mathematician Paul de Casteljau, Pierre Bézier — a fellow French mathematician — developed a curve formula to help solve a practical issue. At the time, Bèzier was working at a car company and was in need of an accurate way to describe a curve that worked for both manufacture and design. The result was the Bèzier curve, which can describe any second degree curve with only four points. The curve was published in 1962 and is credited with inspiring numerous artists although its intentions were strictly mathematical.

Other forms of string art include handcraft such as Spirelli, which is used for cardmaking and scrapbooking, and curve stitching, in which string is stitched through holes.
String art has its origins in the ‘curve stitch’ activities invented by Mary Everest Boole at the end of the 19th century to make mathematical ideas more accessible to children. It was popularised as a decorative craft in the late 1960s through kits and books.

Farah says: “I know nothing can be perfect and you don’t always get what you want but I never give up, the harder something gets in my way, the more I’m excited to continue it to the last, I love to challenge myself because, in my opinion, you already gonna do it, give all what you have, and make it worthwhile. Colours have a large impact on my life, bright colours keeps me positive and joyful. To me if you don’t love what you do anymore, just stop, you have to feel it to do It good.”

ArtLine is a series of web interviews for Lebanese up-and-coming artists. FREE for all Arts people in Lebanon, produced by Fine Line Production​.

Produced by: Said Halawi
Directed by: Yousif A. Salame
Cinematography by: Hasan Salame
Production Design by: Ilat Knayzeh