Paper Mobile




Introduction: Paper Mobile

About: Engineer by day, maker by night; I make art to relax and focus. I enjoy drawing, painting, embroidery, paper crafts, and sewing among many others, but I'm always up for learning a new skill.

Summer always gets me thinking about things in the air---birds, insects, pollen… After thinking about hummingbirds for a few days, I made one out of paper. The bright colors and lightness of the material lend itself well to depicting something as dainty and almost ethereal as a hummingbird. So here I had this lovely little paper hummingbird; the only question was what to do with it! Enter mobile. What better place for a bird than in the air?

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Step 1: Gather All Ye Materials...

For this project you're definitely going to need...

  • a base (something to hang the stuff from---preferably radially symmetrical. The one shown is cut from card stock because I wanted to whole thing to be easily hung, but I'd recommend something heavier in the future. The heavier the base, the less the relatively small weights of the elements will matter to the overall stability of the mobile. Thus, heavier base = easier elements balancing, but it's your call.)
  • hanging "elements" (the stuff you're hanging. In my case a trumpet creeper blossom, hydrangea cluster, and hummingbird.)
  • string/thread/fishing line for hanging things (I used clear plastic thread)

You are probably going to need...

  • n beads (n = # of elements + 1)
  • crimp tubes/beads + needle nose pliers (OR you could probably make do with hot glue and tiny piece of paper, though this will be much messier and time consuming

Step 2: Position the Hole(s) for Hanging Elements

First things first: you need to decide where the hole is going in each of your "elements". For my design, I wanted my hummingbird to be slightly tilted so that the beak could go into the trumpet creeper, which meant that I needed to place the hanging position/hole carefully.

My hummingbird could be modeled pretty easily as three masses on a beam: the head, wings, and tail. The center of mass is pretty much where the wings are because they’re so much heavier than the rest of the bird. To make it tilt downward while hanging, I positioned the hole to the right of the rough center of mass.

Step 3: Poke Some Holes

Use a pin cushion as backing for poking holes into the elements and base---this minimizes damage to the paper. The necessary hole size depends on the type of string you will be using. For larger diameter string or aesthetic reasons, poke first with a pin and follow up with a large gauge needle, as shown.

Check how the element hangs from the hole. If it isn’t right, don’t hesitate to poke a few more (you can see that I got mine on the third try).

Step 4: Crimpin'

Using crimping beads is a fast, effective, and beautiful way to secure wire/line/thread. To use them, first thread the crimping tube on the line/string you’ll be hanging the elements with. Second, add the element through the hole(s) you just punched, and, finally, thread the line back through the crimping tube in the opposite direction, as shown in the picture. Once positioned, flatten the crimping tube with a pair of pliers, check that the string is secured, and trim the excess string.

Step 5: Hang the Base

In this step we’re attaching the string which will be used to hang the mobile (one advantage to a lightweight paper mobile is you can hang it off most anything: mine is hanging from a floor lamp currently).

First, cut your string. You can make it as long or as short as you’d like, depending on how you’re planning on hanging up your mobile.

Add a crimping bead to one end of the line and pass it through the center hole on the top side of the base. Thread a bead onto the line and return the line through the same hole to the top side of the base. Pass the line through the crimping tube as in the previous step and flatten the tube with pliers. Check that the crimp is secure and then trim the excess line.

Step 6: Hang the Elements From the Base

Use the same method described in step five to hang the elements from the base---only for this step feel free to add decorative or weight-balancing elements like extra layers of paper and wire. I ultimately added a few tacks to balance out the weight and keep the scene I pictured.

You're finished!

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like a fun project. I like the flower and of course the hummingbird. Thanks for the inspiration and do have a splendorous day.



    5 years ago

    Yep! Thought of instructable-ing those too but it was pretty much 1 cut out 2 glue 3 you're done already.