Alfred Cheng, a thread artist, has this posted on his Instagram page: ‘Life is like a thread. It can be infinite possibilities’. And the thread portraits created by this thread portrait artist lend credence to this adage. What’s so special about Alfred Cheng string art is it’s handmade with a single thread.
A typical work of Alfred Cheng artist uses up to 5,000 yards of thread and about 300 nails. One can well imagine the backbreaking task of hammering over 300 nails in exact places, one at a time and aligning them precisely, keeping the shading factor in mind. However, the more strenuous part is stringing the nails to create thread art portraits.
Cheng starts by producing a digital version of the portrait he intends to create. He then changes the image to grayscale and adjusts the brightness and contrasts to highlight the regions of shadow and light. It’s the darker parts that require more crisscrossing threads for creating the shadow effect.
For looping the thread, Cheng uses an algorithm that tells him exactly how to apply the thread to create the portrait. He then transfers the result of the algorithm onto the canvas, after which he starts the process of hammering nails and looping the single string around the nails. Cheng is doubly careful while weaving the thread since a breakage means all efforts gone waste and starting all over again.
In his video on insider.com, he says, “You cannot imagine how many times I’ve experienced the issue of those pesky threads breaking when I first started making these portraits. Actually, the thread that I’m using right now is from Spain, and it’s made of polymer and (is) relatively stronger than others, but it’s still so thin and fragile. So, I’ve to stay completely focused during the entire process, and I’m getting better now.”
Cheng’s inspiration for thread art is Petros Vrellis, who is a proponent of algorithmic art. Cheng has not adopted this artist’s technique but also polished it. And the incredible results so obtained are for all to see on his Instagram page and various other websites.
Alfred Cheng: Instagram