Lesson #2: Creating an Asymmetrical Stabile Based on Natural Forms

Part of the unit: Creating a Standing Mobile |


How can we create an asymmetrical stabile inspired by natural forms?
Students will be able to:
Explain the difference between physical and visual balance.
Describe a how a stabile differs from other sculptures.
Draw, cut and arrange biomorphic shapes to create an asymmetrical stabile.
Students will understand that:
Artists are inspired by natural forms.
A stabile is meant to be seen from all sides and can stand on its own.
Sculptors must consider both physical and visual balance.
Foamcore, styrofoam, cardboard, chipboard, or corrugated board, scissors, stick glue

Digital projector and laptop with internet access; three paper sculptures from the previous lesson



Show the class a few stabiles created during the previous lesson.  Ask the student artist to describe how he/she constructed the sculpture.

Show a symmetrical image such as a butterfly or a leaf and a reproduction of an asymmetrical artwork such as Mondrian's Composition with Red Yellow and Blue.

  1. How is visual balance different from physical balance?
  2. What is the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical balance?

Artists consider both physical balance and visual balance when they create sculpture.  Let's look at two artists who used the horse as a subject for sculpture.

Project online gallery of a Degas and three Calder sculptures of horses from www.nga.gov/education/classroom/counting_on_art/popups/pop_lesson_calder_1.htm.

  • In what ways are Calder's sculptures different from Degas' sculpture of a horse? 
  • The Calder is called a "stabile." How would you define a stabile?

Like Calder and other artists, we will be creating a simple stabile inspired by natural forms.  

We will begin by working on the bottom part of the sculpture and will add additional materials and shapes to it during another lesson. 

Instruct students to refer to the photograph of a natural object, such as a shell, animal, plant or sea-life that they brought in for homework. 





The teacher will demonstrate how to draw and cut out three abstract shapes suggested by a photograph of a natural object.  S/He will cut a slot in one of the shapes, insert the other to make it stand.  Ask a student volunteer to attach the third shape to the other two.  The student can place it anywhere by cutting a slot into one of the shapes.  The stabile must be able to stand.

  • What challenges were encountered when adding the third piece?  (Discuss how it changed the physical balance)

Students will draw and cut three biomorphic shapes to assemble into a stabile. 

Work in pairs to determine how the sculpture should be placed for maximum visual interest and stability.