Introduction: Baby Mobile Deku Tree
INTRODUCTION AND WARNING
Please read the entire tutorial before starting. I was inspired to make this mobile as I found patterns online for creating several crocheted characters from the Zelda franchise and I improvised the project using materials I had on hand, plus some easy to find supplies. As I was making it up as I went along, I made some mistakes and realised that some steps could have been done more efficiently.
I only decided to create this Instructable when my project was almost finished, so unfortunately I don’t have explanatory photos for all the steps, but I will do my best to describe each step as accurately as possible. The tutorial will describe how I did each step, and include my thoughts on how it could be done better.
Step 1: Supplies
- Yarn (a lot)
- 3.5mm Crochet hook
- Yarn needle
- 6mm Safety eyes for each character
- Old or new mobile to base structure on
- White foam board
- Aluminium foil
- Duck Tape
- PVC Tube (or cardboard)
- Wooden rods (length equal to your trunk height x 2)
- Metal wire
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue
- Acrylic Paint
- 2 tints of green Cardboard A1 x 8 so about 16 in total
- Fairy lights
Step 2: Knit the Characters
I started this project because I found online patterns for creating several crocheted characters from the Zelda franchise! Unfortunately I cannot show you myself how to make them as I did not create the patterns. However, you can find the patterns on https://members.clubcrochet.com/zelda-patterns/. The bundle with all the characters costs $ 12.99 CAD, and it includes explanations for each model, as well as explanatory videos which show every step in detail.
You can also become a member of the crochet club for $ 5 / month and have access to all the patterns. If you no longer want to be a member, you can simply cancel your subscription.
KNITTING THE TRIFORCE
Here is the pattern to knit the triforce https://louiesloops.com/2012/11/heyy-listen.html
For the triforce, I used the pattern, but made 6 instead of 3. I sewed two pieces of triforce one on top of the other to make it thicker. I then sewed the end of the three triangles together to form the triforce that we all love!
Step 3: Build the Skeleton of the Tree Trunk
For this next step, I used the pieces of an old mobile. In my case, the mobile was incomplete - I only had the base of the mobile, as well as the small plastic arms which support the decorations, but did not have the arm which linked the two pieces. I had to improvise the missing part. So if you have a whole and functional mobile, you will have to use a slightly different approach (an easier one). You can easily find mobiles on amazon like this one: https://www.amazon.ca/AGPtek-Mobile-Holder-Music-... or at a wholesale store. The important part is that there is a large enough base to be able to base the tree on.
The first step in building the trunk is to create the outline of the tree using rigid cardboard. Once the shape is well drawn, you are going to want to fix it to your mobile. To do this, measure the width of the mobile and then cut this width from the center of your cardboard. Once your silhouette is in place, you can fix it using hot glue on each side.
Next we want to create volume. To do this, I used newspaper that I crumpled up into a ball, and then stuck on the cardboard. When I created my volume I tried to keep in mind the direction of the trunk, so I made vertical lines more than horizontal. To fix the newspaper to the cardboard, I used a mix of techniques. I used duck tape to fix the bigger pieces together and for smaller details, I glued them using hot glue. Once I finished my first volume of thickness, I fixed the newspaper by wrapping it in aluminum foil. Aluminum foil keeps the paper in place.
After making the first layer, it is now time to add more details. You are going to want to start adding the big roots that make the outline of his mouth and a small piece of inverted U-shaped aluminum to make its lower lip. Use the same technique to make the volume of his chin, his whiskers, his nose, his two big eyebrows and finally his stumps of main branches.
Once the model is fully assembled and you are satisfied with the result, it's time to dress your skeleton. Prepare your work area by covering it with an old tablecloth or an open trash bag as the papier mache gets dirty. The papier mache recipe I used was the following:
- 1 cup of cold water
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups of boiling water
- Mix the flour with a cup of cold water in a bowl until the mixture is smooth and even.
- Heat 5 cups of water in a large pot until boil.
- Add the flour and water mixture to the boiling water. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 min.
- Remove from heat, empty into a bowl and let cool.
- Dip strips of newspaper in the mixture and cover the object you are shaping with several thicknesses.
You will have previously cut your pieces of newspaper into an easy-to-work strap (not too long or too wide because it is a nightmare to place well and likelier that it will fall off, but not too small either because otherwise it will take you forever to cover your model).
Now with your model on the table and your papier mache equipment well prepared, you will completely cover your trunk. To do this, you will dip a piece of newspaper in your water and flour solution. Make sure to remove the excess glue from your pieces of paper before applying it to your tree. To remove the excess, I squeeze the piece of newspaper between my index and middle fingers and slide my fingers down the paper. It is very important to follow the direction of the wood of your tree for the next steps with your pieces of newspaper! For the first layer with aluminum foil, the paper maceration tends to slip and not to hold well in place. Try to cover with a first coat to the best of your ability and if it’s not perfect, it’s normal. All major problems and defects will resolve in the second and third layers. Once you have finished covering the model with a first coat, you should wait until it is dry before applying the next coat. You repeat the same for the 3rd layer. (3 layers is a minimum. If you have the patience to do more to make your tree stronger, JUST DO IT)
Don't forget the back of the tree! In my case, since my mobile was incomplete, I created a base to insert the arm that I designed. The base here is made of a cardboard tube, which I opened lengthwise so that I could stick it more easily to the back of my tree. Once fixed, cover the back with papier mache. At this stage, you can decide to also add volume at the back to continue the tree. In my case, I decided to keep it simple and I simply applied 3 layers of papier mache on the back.
I created the base this way as I wanted my mobile to be able to be taken apart for transportation, but it renders it more fragile and at increased risk of breaking.
Congratulations, you have completed the trunk of your tree!
Step 4: Build the Arm
For the central branch of my tree I used the rest of the tube that I used for the base. Pierce a hole at the base to allow a wooden dowel to be inserted through the tube. Cut the dowel to the right length and use hot glue to fix it in place inside the tube. Cut sponges in circles a little larger than the size of the base (I cut 4 pieces, but you can do more if you wish). Make a hole in the centre of the sponges to slot them onto the wooden dowel, and fix them in place with hot glue.
Once the main branch is finished, you need to make the secondary branches of your tree. Circle some wire around the branch to secure it, then make a smaller branch shape with the wire. Repeat this to create as many branches as required. Very important: ensure that when finished, the branches rest on the stumps on the trunk, otherwise they could be too heavy and become deformed.
When you are happy with your branch structure, the next step is to cover them with aluminium foil. At this stage, the wires could still be a bit loose, but that’s fine - once covered with the foil the branches will stabilize. After the first layer, build out the shape with crumpled newspaper and aluminium foil to create volume, as you did for the trunk.
If you use the dowel and sponge method, insert a dowel in your tube before covering the model with papier maché. The dowel should stick out at the back to allow for a counterweight later on.
When you are happy with the volume and shape, cover it using the papier maché method as you did for the trunk, with at least 3 layers.
I have described the method I used, however if I were to do it over, I would probably use a pvc tube instead of cardboard, and I would also have used a pvc tube to completely fill the base, to stop the branches from tipping over.
Step 5: Painting
If you’ve got this far, you have succeeded in making your trunk and your branches! However, the newspaper finish is not very pretty. You still have a bit of work to make it look like a real Deku Tree! For the paint, don’t hesitate to look up multiple reference images for the colours.
To begin, I applied a pale coat over the entire mobile. At this stage, follow your own artistic instincts. I redid this stage a few times until I was satisfied with the result. One technique that I found useful was to take a bit of paint on my brush and then remove the excess on a bit of paper, then apply the paint to the tree in light strokes, following the grain of the “wood”. If you have created nice lines with your newspaper, this painting method will give a realistic texture.
Once you are happy with the base colour you need to add details. You can also add some darker paint under the eyes to add definition. The Deku Tree has eyes and a moustache in a different colour to the rest of the trunk. Take time to paint these before painting the grains and cracks. With darker paint you will create the cracks and grains in your tree. This doesn’t need to be perfect as it should represent the variations found in nature. A small mistake can sometimes create an unexpected effect. This is what mine looked like after finishing the cracks and grains.
Follow the same steps for the branches of the tree, however you don’t need to spend too much time on the branches as they will mostly be covered with leaves.
Step 6: Fun Part...
It is starting to take shape.
Now it’s time to make the leaves. I created each leaf on my tree with cardboard and a lot of patience, but you may find a faster substitute. For this step, if you can find a friend or family member to help it could speed things along.
To make the leaves, take two pieces of cardboard of two different shades of green. Next, cut them in strips of around 4.5 cm by 28 cm. Take a strip of each shade and fold them in half together lengthwise: you should now have one strip of 4 thicknesses, with one shade of green on the inside and the other shade on the outside. Next, make cuts all along the long edge to around half the width of the strip, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Starting from the base, roll your strip of paper to form your first foliage. Once well rolled, use the hot glue gun to fix your foliage.
Now you just have to repeat this process about 200 times and you are going to have all the leaves necessary for your tree. When making my tree, I made about fifty leaves at a time and then assembled them on the tree. It’s more encouraging to see your tree evolve and gives an idea of how much foliage is missing.
Step 7: Assembling the Mobile
If you’ve got this far, congratulations! You are nearly at the end.
This is how I assembled the mobile. I used the two shades of green wool from making Link, and I wrapped them together around on all the arms of the mobile, taking care to leave the yarns showing at each end.
These yarns will be used to hang the crocheted characters from. Take one yarn at a time and pass it through a wool needle. Then, with the yarn through your needle, pass the needle through a stitch in the back of your character. With the other yarn, do the same thing, but passing through the same stitch in the opposite direction, so entering where the yarn came out. Now you can secure it with a double knot.
Now you just need to make the cord to attach the mobile to the tree. In my case I decided to keep using the two shades of green wool. I put them through the opening in the mobile, ending up with 4 strands of wool. I then plaited the 4 strands like this :
Once this is done, you can just attach your cord directly to the trunk of the tree. Make sure the distance from the base is correct, and that the height is tall enough. The baby must not be able to reach the mobile. To attach the cord I just used a double knot around the tree and then wrapped the excess around the branch.
The mobile is installed!!! Now you just need to dress the tree!
Step 8: Dressing the Leaves
Now the mobile is installed and your leaves are made, you need to dress your tree as it’s currently still a bit bare. With hot glue, stick the leaves to the branches one-by-one. Before sticking them, take the time to open the leaves up, separating the strips from each other. This way, you will not need as many leaves, otherwise you will have very dense leaves and you will need more to cover your mobile.
As you can see in my pictures, I didn’t open the leaves very well at the beginning. It looks good, but it is not worth the time it takes to make the leaves.
Once all the leaves were attached, I added a string of small lights to add a fairy-like atmosphere. To do this I used copper wire lights that I glued and hid among the leaves of the tree.
In the dark it really pays off!
Step 9: Adjustment
I had to adjust my mobile a bit. Once all the leaves were on the branches, it weighed it down considerably. This made the branches tip over forwards. To counteract this, I opened the back of the branches and inserted a wooden dowel. I then attached the dowel to the base of the mobile with wire, to straighten and support the main trunk.
This step shouldn’t be necessary if you made your trunk solidly enough to support itself.
Step 10: My Mistakes!
Because this was an improvised project, I made several mistakes. I hope that by sharing these it will help make the project easier for you.
My main mistakes were:
- Not having a complete mobile: this is not so much an error, but a decision to work with what I had to hand. I don’t know if the project would have been easier, but this was the first hurdle.
- Not making a solid enough base. The wooden dowel with sponges holds, however it wasn’t solid enough to support the weight of the branches, so they tipped forward. If I was to redo it, I would probably use pvc tubes that fit inside each other.
- Leaves too dense. At the beginning I didn’t open up my leaves, so they took up less space and I didn’t have enough. I ended up having to make about 250 sets of leaves. This is very time consuming and I won’t hide the fact that this was not the most thrilling part of the creation.
- Working on the wrong side of the mobile. Yes, I admit after all these hours of work I only realised at the end that I had worked back to front from the beginning. The piece that screws to attach the mobile is supposed to be on the outside of the crib. Unfortunately I created my tree the wrong way round. It is not the end of the world - the baby is not strong enough to unscrew the mobile and I will find a solution to hide the screw, but this could have been avoided if I had worked the correct way round. I blame this on the fact that my original mobile was incomplete!
- Installing the lights too soon. It’s not a big problem, but I attached the lights before finishing the leaves. This makes the top of my tree a bit darker than the rest.
Step 11: THANK YOU!
I've put all my heart, sweat and even a little bit of blood! (be careful around scissors!) But I'm really happy with the result and I'm even happier to know that other people could try to make one of their own.
Runner Up in the