Transform old books into a whimsical moving sculpture
20’ of 1/16” cable
A 36” steel rod, 5/16” in diameter (Steel welding rods can be found at the hardware store, and usually they will be happy to cut it to length for a nominal fee.)
A 26” steel rod, 5/16” in diameter
7/64” drill bit
Thin, pliable wire
Bicycle cable ends (Ask at a bike shop.)
Step 1: Find Three Books
First, find three old books to use for your mobile. Think about color, illustration, and theme. For example, you could use three botanical books, three books of fairy tales, or three books of classic sci-fi.
Step 2: Drill
Drill two holes through the book, one through each of the corners opposite the spine edge. The holes should be about an inch from each of the adjacent edges.
Step 3: Measure and Snip Cable
Cut two pieces of cable 18” long.
Step 4: Thread Cable Through Books.
Thread each of the cables through each of the two holes. Then wrap the ends of cables with tape. The tape is meant to keep the cable from slipping through the holes while you’re working and will be removed later.
Step 5: Make Hole for Hanger
Open the book about halfway. Drill or poke a hole between the pages, about a half inch below the top of the page.
Step 6: Attach Hanger to Book
Thread a piece of wire through the hole and twist the ends together.
Step 7: Fan Pages
Fan the book pages out so that they are more or less evenly spaced. It can help to put something in the space between the spine and the pages themselves. This rounds out the spine and helps the pages to fan out nicely. We rolled up a little piece of cardboard and stuck it in there.
Step 8: Fix Pages in Place
When you get the pages just how you want them, put a little drop of glue on the cable to fix the pages in place.
Step 9: Clip Extra Cable
Clip the extra cable protruding from the cover. Make sure to leave 3/8" sticking out. This will be capped by a cable end in the next step.
Step 10: Add Cable End
Put a cable end on the cable end and cinch it with pliers.
Step 11: Repeat
Repeat the previous steps for the other two books.
Step 12: Lay Out the Mobile
Now you’re ready to construct the mobile itself. First, lay out the bars on the floor as shown. (Of course, at this point you won’t have the books and cables that appear in the photo.)
Step 13: Apply Loom Clamps
Put a loom clamp at each of the six points labelled A through F. To do so, slip the clamp over the bar and slide it into place. Then insert the eye bolt and tighten the nuts.
Step 14: Attach Cables
Using the ferrules, attach a cable to the center of the top bar (B). This will attach to the ceiling, so make sure it is fairly long. Then attach a cable to each of the ends of the top bar (A and C). To attach the cables, insert the cable into the ferrule, loop it through the eye bolt, and insert it again into the ferrule. Tap the ferrule with a hammer to hold the cable in place.
Step 15: Attach Cables to Bars
Take the cable attached at the end of the bar (C) and attach it to the center of the lower bar (E). Attach two cables to the ends of the lower bar (D and F).
Step 16: Attach Books
Attach the books to the mobile by attaching the three dangling cables to the wire loops on the books.
Step 17: Raise the Mobile
Slowly raise the mobile off the floor.
Unless you’re really lucky, the mobile will be out of balance and the bars will be way out of level. Slide the points B and E along the bars until both bars are level. Often a little adjustment goes a long way.
When you get the mobile balanced, do a final check of the eye bolt nuts to make sure they’re tightened.
Step 18: Finished!
Attach the mobile to the ceiling and enjoy!