60 Second Mobile




About: Creative swashbuckler. Writer for MAKE Magazine, presenter of inventions on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. Professional problem solver. Annoyingly curious. Hacker of all things from computers to clot...
Sometimes great works of art come from inspiration.  Other times they spring forth fully formed from the cosmic chaos.  This project is one of the latter.  It uses the power of serendipity to pull a creative project out of ... well, out of a box of hangars.

After a recent move an organized group of wire hangars were inadvertently tossed into an empty box.  When I reached in to pull it out I found the hangars had merged into  a spontaneously generated kinetic sculpture.  So instead of crying over spilt hangars I hung it on a tree.

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Step 1: Materials an Tools

Skills:  To do this project you need to be able to confidently do the following:
  • Drop things.
  • Shake a box.
  • Grab something.
  • Hang something.

  • Wire hangars. (Any make, model, or color.)
  • Tree. (Any make, model, or color.)
  • Cardboard box. (American Value 2 Ply brand only. Cannot guarantee results with other medium-to-large cardboard boxes.)
  • Pliers (Optional.)

Step 2: Drop Hangars Into the Box.

Drop the hangars into the cardboard box.  Allow gravity to pull them in, you don't need to force them.   Make sure none of the hangars miss the box.  If they do, pick them up and drop them in the box.

Step 3: Shake the Box

Vigorously shake the box for a minute.  (You may need a stopwatch or timer to time the shaking.)  Be sure to turn it both back and forth while shaking.  Shaking the box in only in one direction (either back or forth) is not recommended.

Step 4: Grab

Due to the precisely timed shaking in the previous step all of the hangars will now be almost permanently interlocked. 

Sit the box down on a sturdy, level, flat surface and grab the first hook you see and lift directly up.  

Step 5: Hang

Place the hangar over a sturdy accessible branch of a nearby tree.

Wait for a gentle breeze to animate your fantastic creation.  Enjoy the soothing sounds it makes.

If you want to make it a bit more durable and weather resistant go after it with a pair of piers to bend and crimp some of the more precarious connections.

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    2 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, this is one of those basic properties of the universe - that coat hangers will automatically tangle themselves given the chance. It makes me wonder what other objects and shapes will self tangle like this.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Well done! I'm a former math teacher, now a designer for education, and this gets me thinking about how to create an activity that gets students to study measurement to create mobile sculptures.