How to create a Mobile
Fairly easily, you would think. And yes, once you have understood about balance and the mathematics of balance it is fairly easy. Well a piece like this one here is fairly easy.
This mobile is one of seven mobiles I made as part of my final project for my BA Sculpture course.
Throughout the sculpture course, I have been looking to represent elements of the lives the poor farmers in Ethiopia and, in particular, those suffering from Podoconiosis (Podo). This was my way of looking at the balance of their lives.
In this piece I have used plastic water piping, spray painted blue, as I wanted the link between water and their lack of it and how their lives are hanging in the balance
because of it.
In this piece, my tutor wanted colour, which for anyone who knows my work will know, I love colour; but I had stuck to white throughout the course because I didn’t want colour to be an influence on what I was trying to say, in any way.
In the end though, I gave in and gave him what he wanted. Funnily enough in the final assessment he stated that colour wasn’t enough, he wanted shiny!
How to make a mobile when it is a piece influenced by Alexander Calder. This is not quite so simple.
In all the research I did, the instructions stated that you needed to work from the bottom up.
Personally, I found it easier to work from the top down. In this easy piece, I took lengths of knitting wool from balls left over from other projects, waste not want not. Using plastic fishing line, I tied a knot at the top, made a loop for hanging and then threaded the eight lengths through a couple of wool covered pieces of pipe, through a disc of card, which I discovered I needed for stability and then attached them at intervals around the covered hoop.
From there I attached the pipe which had been strung to be of fairly equal weight in order that the entire mobile sat straight.
Working this way from top to bottom worked well for me.
Now to the more challenging Calder inspired pieces.
The diagrams below show how it is recommended that you make these complex mobiles.
Confused? Well it is a little. If you take a pencil and balance it across your finger. The balance point is going to be somewhere pretty close to the middle of that pencil. Add an eraser to one end and the balance point will change. You try, and you will see what I mean. The balance point is a really fine point and any little additional weight changes the balance point.
But despite the instructions to work from the bottom up, again I found it easier to work from the top down. I know there are lots of mathematical calculations which come into play making it the correct thing to do, but ……..
So, with this next piece I used wooden pea sticks, all the same length with pieces of plastic water-pipe spray painted silver and attached with nylon fishing line. Each tied point had to be glued to stop it from slipping and the weight of the glue needed to be considered in order that the mobile hung evenly.
In the final mobile I made, I used discs of resin. Into some of them I mixed gold paint, others into which I put gold glitter and in the third lot I used luminous powder so that at night time the discs will glow in the dark.
I am looking forward to hanging this final piece from a tree in my garden. The white wires used are wire coat hangers so will withstand the weather and the resin discs are happy enough outside. The only thing with might not last will be the nylon fishing line. I know it can withstand a heavy weight and we all know that plastic takes forever, if ever, to degrade, but the wind and the rain could snap the wire, fingers crossed it will survive.
Let’s hope that now there is enough colour, sparkle and glitter to keep my examiners happy.