My Material Life

Let’s Make a Mobile

Did you know that it’s really not at all difficult to make your own Flensted-inspired mobile?  You know about Flensted mobiles, don’t you?  They are one of my very favorite things in this world.  And they have a connection to the things I’ve been going on about lately – Andy Warhol, Hans Christian Andersen, The Book Loft in Solvang.  Well, at least in my mind they are connected:  Hans Christian Andersen (a paper cutter) as subject for Andy Warhol, HCA’s work as subject for Flensted mobiles and paper cuts, and all of these things collected together in the HCA museum on top of the Book Loft in Solvang.

The only Flensted mobile I own is the Ugly Duckling one (based on the story by HCA).  I bought it for Samantha’s room when she was a baby.  When I made that asymmetrical passe position dancer chain a few posts back, I liked the shape so much that I wanted to do something else with it, and I couldn’t help but think of a mobile.  That’s the beauty of a great shape, isn’t it?  All the things you can do with it!  A mobile today, a stencil tomorrow, an applique the next, the possibilities are endless.  But I wanted to see several of these beautiful shapes dancing on the wind, so a mobile it would be.  And I used my Flensted Ugly Duckling mobile as a model for how to make my own.  Would you like to give it a try?  Please note that this is really a project for adults or teens; in fact, you’ll probably fare better if you steer clear of kids or other distractions completely while you work.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Thin cardstock (mine was thicker than the Flensted version, making it harder to cut neatly)
Narrow gauge wire (I think I used 24, but the Flensted mobile seemed more like a 22)
Embroidery floss or thread
Super glue

Teeny tiny hole punch
Scissors and/or craft knife
Wire cutters
Jewelry pliers

I found the tiny hole puncher at Michaels.  It was part of a set.  I wanted to put my holes for stringing my shapes at the top of the dancers’ heads, so I figured I’d have better chance of getting that hole where I wanted it by punching it out before I placed my dancer shape on the paper.  Step one for me, therefore, was punching those holes.  Next I placed my dancer template (already created; see How to Cut Asymmetrical Paper Chains) on my paper, positioning it over the hole as indicated above.  I traced around my template with a pencil and used a combination of scissors and X-Acto knife to cut out my shapes.

I used a single strand of pink embroidery floss for hanging my shapes from the wire, so the next thing I did was cut 5 pieces of floss, about 12″ long.  Then I attached one piece of floss to each of my 5 shapes by placing one end through the tiny hole at the top of each shape and tying a square knot at the top of the head.  I clipped the thread tails close to the knots.

Getting the wire ready was next.  I cut one 4″ piece of wire, two 5″ pieces of wire, and one piece about 5-1/2″ long.  Then I used my jewelry pliers to turn up the ends of each wire as you can see in the photo above.

The last photo above shows my mobile’s layout:  basically, the shortest piece has two shapes tied to either end of the wire, then a 5″ piece is tied from some point along the previous wire (depending on how you want to balance your mobile) to one of its ends and another shape is tied to its other end.  The same applies to the next two wires, with the longest wire on top.  The important thing is to begin at the bottom, with that shortest piece of wire and two shapes on either end.  Then, you can adjust your balance and string length for your shapes as you go along (up).  Finish your final wire with an additional piece of floss for hanging after you determine the right position for it.  Place a bead of super glue on all of your knots to hold them in place on the wires.  Trim thread ends close to your knots.  Then hang and enjoy or just buy yourself a Flensted.  Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed (but your Flensted will likely be neater).

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