Kinetic mobiles are an art form pioneered in the early twentieth century by a talented sculptor called Alexander Calder. Kinetic mobiles were used to describe hanging sculptures or moving art. This was later adopted and popularised by kids crafts. They are fascinating for children to make and look at, often providing real educational value too.
All hanging mobiles start with a frame. This is really simple to make. The most effective options are clothes hangers or a paper plate.
One clothes hanger will do the trick but extra interest is added to the mobile by arranging two hangers at right angles. Another option is to create a more complicated hanging mobile by suspending two tiers of coat hangers. The young mobile makers need to experiment by successfully balancing the art mobiles correctly. The hangers look wonderful if they are covered with tinsel or coloured pipe cleaners.
A paper plate is a simple frame for hanging mobiles. The component parts are hung from holes around the edges and the mobile is suspended from the central point of the plate. Again, the kids will need to experiment with how they suspend the art mobiles so it balances. Paint or decorate the plate to fit in with the mobile’s overall theme.
The parts of the hanging mobiles can be suspended with ribbons, string, wool, wire or a simple chain made from linked paperclips.
Things to Hang From the Mobile
When looking for things to hang from the mobile, children go wild with their ideas. They can adapt and decorate things commonly found around the house or create some weird and wonderful effects with lots of different kids crafts. Some really good ideas are:
- Christmas baubles for a festive look
- Old CDs or DVDs, they catch the light beautifully and are very effective.
- Coloured streamers gathered together and made from ribbons or crepe paper.
- Pretty spirals cut from coloured paper plates.
- Countless items of artwork that the kids have created – drawings, characters, pom-poms, papier mache models, strings of beads or play dough models.
Themes to Try
Great hanging mobiles have a theme. This could relate to the time of year, something kids are interested in or even a topic being covered at school. Here are some ideas:
- Weather – include snowflakes, sun, clouds and raindrops.
- The Solar System with planets, stars and the odd spaceship.
- Halloween – ghosts, pumpkins and spiders.
- Transport – cars, trains and planes.
- Nature – flowers, birds, animals and insects.
Why not try making an easy wind chime together? Hang the finished item close to an open window and the mobile will create lovely sound effects. Make sure you suspend the chimes closely so they can make their pleasant sounds. Chimes could be glass beads, jingle bells, sea shells, small pebbles or old keys.
A Dream Catcher
The dream catcher is a form of Native American mobile. The idea is that the dream catcher is suspended above a bed so it traps the sleeper’s nightmares but directs good dreams towards them.
Start by creating a small hoop of flexible twigs to form the frame, willow twigs are a good choice. Using a length of coloured thread or wool, add some pretty beads and tie them into place along the yarn using knots. Now use the beaded wool to create a criss-cross network across the twig frame.
Finish the dream catcher by suspending three of four lengths of the beaded wool from the frame and attach small bunches of feathers to the ends so they dangle dreamily above the sleeper below.
Hanging mobiles are as varied as a child’s ideas and they’re great fun to make. They also introduce some basic principles of physics. Children will love to proudly hang them for all to see.