Lesson #4: Creating the mobile

Part of the unit: Creating a Standing Mobile |


How can we construct a balanced standing mobile?
Students will be able to:
Create a balanced standing mobile
Students will understand that:
Making art requires problem-solving skills.

Corrugated board or other type of board that can be cut with scissors, yet sturdy enough to embed a wire. 18 or 22 gauge wire, wire cutters, round nose pliers, needle-nose pliers, scissors, pencils


Images of Calder mobiles and standing mobiles for reference


Today you will be using your sketches as a guide for constructing a mobile. 

The teacher will use his/her sketch to demonstrate how to draw and cut two shapes, and then how to bend and cut the wire to create the main branch from which these shapes can be hung.  That branch can be twisted to create one or more loops from which another branch or cut shape can be attached.   

  • How can we attach the cardboard shapes to the wire?

The student suggestions should be listed on the chalkboard. 


The teacher or a volunteer will implement the suggestions offered by the students. (attaching it by slipping the wire into the thickness of the board; suspending it by attaching it to the branch's loop with another loop that goes through the cut shape)

  • Why might your finished work look different from your sketch?
  • What might you need to do to keep the structure in balance?
  • From your homework reading, what did you find interesting about Calder's process of creating mobiles?

Demonstrate how to attach one wire branch to a stabile and explain the importance of periodically checking to make sure that the weight of the attached shapes does not cause the whole sculpture to topple over. Explain that the shapes may have to be made smaller or the original branch shorter to keep the structure in balance.  If necessary, a second branch could be added to the other side for physical balance. Remind the class that trial and error may cause them to depart from their original sketch.

Wire, wire cutters, scissors, board, and assorted pliers should be on each table.  The students should experiment with bending and looping the wire to create branches from which to attach their cut shapes.  Although they should try to recreate the mobile in their drawing, they will need to make adjustments based on the issue of weight and balance. 

  • What challenges did you face in working with wire and board to create a mobile?
  • How did this section of your sculpture change from your original sketch?  Why did you make these changes?