I started off with wanting to make my daughter a mobile, and after much thought and consideration, I decided that I wanted to make her something that she wasn't going to grow too old for, but rather something she might grow bored of as she gets older. So this brought me to the idea of making her something thought would ignite her imagination and child-like wonder as well as be something that could be enjoyed by an adult.
I found a mobile similar to the one I was making that I could have ordered, but I liked mine much better. But it did give me an idea for how to improve upon my mobile while I worked on it. Here's the link to it:
Once finished, I enjoyed the project so much, as well as others I've shown, that I decided to share how to make this. Some of the pictures are from the mobile I made for my daughter, and some are from the one I made for a friend's slightly older daughter.
To start off with, we're going to need supplies.
- Paper (I used book pages from an old ruined book I had on hand)
- Hot Glue Gun + Hot Glue Sticks
- Needle or Pin
- Beads (or something else to weight down the string. I dissected a cheap broken bracelet I had on hand, as well as some earrings I made a while back and had sitting around.)
- Sticks (I gathered mine from outside off the ground. You can use something else if you want.)
- Hemp Twine (or something similar if you desire)
- Food coloring + Spray bottle (or use alternative methods of coloring the paper)
- Key chain ring
This took me about 9 hours total to complete. It should take you about the same.
Step 1: Building the Frame
Now would be a good time to go out and gather some sticks to use, unless you're using something else. I used sticks because they were free and just sitting outside in the street. Now, mind you, I went out and got some fairly large sticks, some which I guess you could technically call branches. At the very least, you want four sticks that are 26 inches long, four sticks that are 22 inches long, and four sticks that are 18 inches long. If you want to make your mobile small, than that's fine, just collect sticks that are shorter or shorten the sticks down to the size you prefer them to be. I prefer the mobiles to be larger because it allows for a more realistic flock of butterflies.
If your sticks aren't all the same length but close enough to be paired up, that's fine. I actually prefer it where some are longer. The sizes I gave are just general lengths from what I've measured from what I've made.
Gather sticks, clean up and make sure they're acceptable for use.
Lay out the sticks in a square pattern with the ends overlapping. I suggest putting one end of one stick on top while the other stick is on the bottom. If you set up all four sticks in this pattern, it assists with structural integrity of the mobile. Do only the largest box at the moment.
Now that you know how you're going to have the sticks laid out, its time to hot glue the sticks together at each point where they join. Work quickly to glue all the joints before the hot glue cools. Once you glue them all, let it sit for a minute or two.
Once each joint is glued, go back and repeat step two with the next set of sticks. Make sure you glue that frame down onto the larger frame in an off kilter manner. Continue with this for the number of frames you're using.
Now it's time to take the hemp twine and tie the joints together. Cut off about 12 inches of the hemp twine to use for each joint.
Pick a joint to start with. I preferred to start on the largest frame and work my way to the smallest frame. Start off with tying the hemp twine around the two sticks and knotting it with a simple double knot. Then wrap the hemp twine around the joint, do your best to make it as strong and stable as possible. Once you're finished wrapping all the hemp twine around the joint, you take the end of the twine and hot glue it in place. Make sure it sticks and remains tightly wrapped. Once the hot glue has cooled, release it.
This took me about half an hour to complete.
Step 2: Coloring the Paper
To start off with, I decided to color the paper. First decide on the colors you want for your butterflies and which colors you want for your flowers. For your butterflies, I recommend different colors and combinations so that your butterflies don't all match. You don't want them all to match, it makes the butterflies less visually appealing. Your flowers on the other hand can all match.
Personally I chose red and blue, yellow and red, and blue and green for the colors of my butterflies. The blue and red, and yellow and red were the butterflies on my daughter's mobile, and blue and green largely comprised the second mobile.
First you're going to want to make your water and food coloring concoction for coloring your butterflies if this is your chosen route. Figure out how dark or light you want your butterflies and flowers. If you want them dark, add more food coloring. If you want them light, add less. Add at least half a cup to a whole cup of water to the amount of food coloring you're decided on. Put the mixture into your spray bottle, deciding on which color you want to begin with.
Take your paper and place them on a flat surface where you're not afraid to make a mess and can clean up with some relative ease. Spread them out evenly across your chosen surface, making sure none of them overlap.
Once your paper is spread out on your chosen surface, take your prepared spray bottle with the food coloring mixture, and begin spraying it over the paper. If you want just a lovely little spray pattern, just spritz a little. If you want it completely saturated and runny, spray it heavily until you can barely see the original color of the paper. Once you feel you're sprayed the papers with enough of one coloring, switch to another.
Once you're happy with how one side of the paper looks, it's time to flip the page over and repeat the same process on the opposite side.
Now you have the choice between baking the paper or air drying. Nothing is wrong with either. Air drying takes longer, while baking the paper in the oven goes a lot more quickly. I baked mine because I didn't feel like waiting for the air drying.
To start off with, I preheated my oven to 150 F. I then grabbed a baking sheet and placed two pieces of paper on it at a time. You can do multiple baking sheets with paper on them at a time, but I definitely suggest putting just enough on each sheet so the papers aren't toughing each other.
IMPORTANT!!! Only bake for 3 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the papers until their raised and wrinkly looking. See pictures for how they're supposed to look. Once they look like that, pull the paper out of the oven and remove from baking sheets without burning yourself. If you have more paper to bake, throw them on the baking sheet and back into the oven before the pan even dries. Its fine to do so.
Optional Step Five
If you chose to bake your paper but you don't like how wrinkly the paper comes out, you have the option to iron out the wrinkles using an iron and ironing board. Use the iron on it's lowest setting and iron it like you would any other garment.
All in all, this took be about an hour to do.
Step 3: Cutting Butterflies
Its time to start cutting out our butterflies and flowers!
First we're going to start with a whole paper, then we're going to begin folding. I suggest you follow the fold patterns I have pictured. You just want to get the papers folded and cut basically into three sizes. Those sizes I have pictured together. You primarily want the butterflies to be about the following sizes:
LARGE - Wingspan: 4 inches Height: 2 1/2 inches You want only about 5 to 10 of these size butterflies
MEDIUM - Wingspan: 3 inches Height: 2 inches You want most of your butterflies to be about this size, roughly 100 butterflies
SMALL - Wingspan: 2 inches Height: 1 1/2 inches You want about 30 or 40 of your butterflies to be about this size
Once you have the papers cut into sizes appropriate for cutting the size of butterflies I previously mentioned, you want to fold them in half. You want your butterfly wings to be symmetrical once you've cut them out. Before you begin cutting, pick out a generic butterfly shape you want. You can free cut, like I did, or you can use these as inspiration for the wing shapes.
All we want are the wing shapes cut out of the paper. If they look good once they're cut out, set them aside in a pile and discard the paper you cut them out of.
These took me about 1 1/2 hours to do.
Step 4: Cutting Flowers
To do the flowers, you're going to basically be doing the same thing as you did with the butterflies. Fold and cut the papers into appropriate sizes to cut out the flowers.
FLOWERS: 1 inch wide + 1 inch tall
You want your flowers to be three petals, and rounding off the corners make them appear fuller, more organic. These ones you don't fold the paper to cut, you can draw a three petaled flower on the papers to cut out, or you can free cut them like I did because not all real flowers look the same, and the imperfections help them look more organic.
Cut them out, if they look good, put them in a pile off to the side, and discard the paper you cut them out of. You want to cut out about 250 to 300 of these flowers. Once they're all cut out, you then want to grab each individual flower and fold the petals up.
These took me about 1 1/2 hours to do.
Step 5: Hanging the Frame
Cut two lengths of hemp twine measuring about 28 to 32 inches. Take one length and tie it around one joint of the largest from on the bottom of the stack of frames. Make sure it's nice and secure.
Stretch the twine and at about 14 inches, take the key ring and wrap the twin around it on one side about 5 times, then stretch the remaining 14 inches to the joint opposite the joint you already tied the hemp twine around. Tie the end securely around the second joint.
Repeat with the remaining twine around the two joints you haven't done yet.
Once finished, the frame should hang securely from the hemp twine securely attached to the key ring.
In total, this took about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
Step 6: Putting Weights on the Strings
Grab your string and cut off about two to three feet worth. Take one end of the string and tie a slip knot. If you don't know how to tie a slip knot, here's a video giving instructions on how to tie it.
Now grab your weight and the other end of your string. I used my crystal beads for this, but whatever you're using for your weight, its now time to put it on the string, so loop it through however you loop it through. Pull the weight along the string until it's close to the slip knot.
At this point, take the opposite end of your string and thread it through the slip knot. Pull the string until it's tight around the weight like I have shown in the pictures.
Repeat for all the strings of butterflies that you'll have.
This took me about ten minutes.
Step 7: Stringing the Butterflies
Now its time to start stringing the butterflies. take your string with the weight tied on it, and about an inch or two inches above your weight, tie a knot. A single knot will work, but I preferred tying a double knot because I felt that it was more secure for holding the butterflies in place.
Pick a butterfly, any one that you find aesthetically pleasing to be on the bottom of your string, and then grab your pin. Take your pin and stab it through your chosen butterfly in the middle of it. Once the hole has been stabbed through the butterfly, thread your string through and pull the butterfly along the thread until it's sitting comfortably on top of the string.
Now, instead of a pin, you can use a needle. Thread the string through the needle and then stab it through the butterfly, and then pull the butterfly along the string. You'll probably want to unthread the needle after you pull it through for the next part.
Above the butterfly, about an inch to three inches above it, tie another knot. Repeat this until you feel that you have enough butterflies on the string and still have about three inches worth of string left to tie the string on to the frame.
When tying the string on to the frame, pick one of the joints on the frame, and tie it on. Double knot the string when you tie it on, then trim away all excess string on the string. Repeat this with all of the strings.
Step 8: Putting Flowers on the Frame
Go plug in your hot glue gun and pull up your prepared flowers and the frame because its time to flower up the frame.
Take a flower into your hand and put a dot of hot glue on it. Then select a spot for it the frame and stick it to the frame.
You'll want to start on the ends of the sticks, starting off with the flowers closely cloistered together. Spread out the flowers as you move up the stick until about three or four inches in, you're only gluing one about every quarter of an inch. While you glue the flowers, make sure you glue all around the sticks, not just on one side.
Glue as many flowers as you feel you need to. This personally took me about two hours to complete.
Step 9: Hang Up and Enjoy
Now its time to hang up your mobile and enjoy it.