The Moving Sculpture

by April 2, 2012
filed under Style

The Moving SculptureInspired by a project I did in a design class last year, I thought I’d talk about hanging mobiles. These are great for adding some eclecticism to your balcony or porch, or they can be hung in the corner of a room to create some extra visual interest. Easy to make, you can fashion your own mobile in just about any theme.

The one I constructed was made from collected pieces of sea glass, old champagne corks, watch bits and copper wire that I picked up from Home Hardware. I chose to use wire as the dominate medium because I enjoy wire wrapping, so constructing my mobile was time efficient and enjoyable. The copper also has that great quality about it, where when it is exposed to air for so long, it changes color (I was hoping for that lovely sea green, but apparently this requires some chemical treatment). Once the mobile started to tarnish a bit, the piece really came to life as it began to compliment the hanging pieces of glass, etc.

I like to think of hanging mobiles as moving sculptures. One of the most common mobiles you see that uses recycled materials usually includes the use of flat-hammered spoons or forks. There’s a lovely one at the Re-Use Centre here in Edmonton as an example. At this point, I should issue an apology to all my fellow classmates that may be reading this column and reliving the misery they experienced when making their mobiles last year. C’est la vie, I did not.

The other thing I love about this project is that it gives you an opportunity to repurpose old junk, and think outside of the box in terms of what to do with random things that may be lying around the house. Again, you can also check out the Re-Use Centre as it is an excellent place to get materials for a project like this one. Or maybe you have a computer lying around that crashed years ago and you just can’t figure out what to do with it. Why not use the keys from the keyboard to make a little mobile with a written message? Although, you would have to be very careful about what message you want to write as you only have one of each letter, so this is just a for instance.

The other really common hanging mobile I see being sold in places like the AGA’s Gift Shop, is the photo/ postcard mobile. They tend to run a little pricy, although if you are not particularly inclined to make one yourself, I would say they are affordable and fun to assemble. However, making one yourself wouldn’t be too difficult.

First plan out what colour you want the wire to be (probably silver is best) and draw up a sketch of how you want your mobile to look so that you have a kind of pattern to follow. You can check out DIYs online if you don’t know basic wire manipulation techniques, but it’s pretty simple, I assure you. Essentially now all you need is wire that’s not soft, so that it holds its form – probably around a 12 gauge. I would recommend checking out Home Depot for this. You will also need mini clothes pins or fold back clips and thread or string or fishing wire.

Then just create some basic arcs out of the wire of equal lengths and in the middle, create a little divot to allow an overlap with the wire sections. On the ends of the wire arcs create little divots as well, that will allow you to tie your bits of string on to which you will hang your photos from. Or, if you know jewelry making techniques you can use beading wire, or nylon beading thread and a crimping bead with a dab of super glue to give it a slightly more clean look. The next step is to attach your clips onto the bits of hanging string in a manner that allows you to ensure the mobile stays balanced. I would advise one clip per bit of string, as when you start to attach more than that, it gets a bit heavy.

I’ve seen other really interesting mobiles, such as Alexander Calder’s incredible pieces of artwork during the height of the Modernist era. Mobiles really are a great, fun way to make moveable artwork you can hang up, if you want something a little more unique and expressive in a space in your home. Plus, they’re fun to make! Just continue to think outside of the box as to what you can use and have fun with it.

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