Sunday, 29 January 2012

Crafty Mama: Make paper mobiles!


A couple of evenings ago we had a few hours to kill before bedtime. I had visited a friend's house, and was so impressed with the beautiful mobile in her son's bedroom, I decided to give it a go.
[I was also so impressed with her whole house to be honest. I'll have to bribe her to do a guest post with loads of photos, because it's just amazing; fresh, modern, interesting, fun, minimalist, innovative etc.]

Coming home from her house I was seized with a madness that had me tidying out my kitchen dresser. (Me, tidying!) This is home to every craft I've tried in the last 3 years: Knitting, crochet, jewellery-making, sewing, painting, drawing, paper-craft, origami, fabric-painting... It was a holy show, as my grandmother would say. I reorganised the drawers and all their contents, and now actually have a place for everything. [I realised that night we had no kid's scissors, so had a lovely trip the next day to buy some with Charlie, he went for a left-handed green pair of scissors. Always original is our Charlie. We bought some pipe cleaners and paintbrushes too, just for fun.]

This was a completely "free" activity, we made it all out of stuff we found in the house. The coloured paper was left over from my teaching days and some chopsticks taped together made the perfect structure to hang our shapes off.

You will need:
Sticky tape
Chopsticks (or skewers / straws / pencils)
Scissors
Pencil
White Thread
Coloured paper (or paint your designs on white paper)

That's us in the pink rocket, apparently.

Decide on a theme.
We chose "Space", as there's a lot of talk about day / night, planets, spacemen, the moon, in our house.
Other themes could be based on the room your mobile will hang in:
Kitchen: Fruit / cupcakes / flowers / burgers and chips
Bedroom: Fairies / Robots / clouds, rainbow and sun
Favourite characters from books / tv, family members, animals, dinosaurs etc.

If you're really stuck (but this would be disgracefully lazyass) you could cut pictures out of a comic or magazine.

Not so neat, not so symmetrical. Hmm.

How to make your mobile:
Child tapes chopsticks into an "X" shape.
Child draws wobbly spaceman, wobbly rocket, wobbly stars (throws pencil down in frustration, until you hold his hand to draw a star), some questionably-sized planets on different coloured papers.
You cut them out.
Normally I'd let him do the cutting, but he'd taken so long drawing them I didn't have the patience. If he  ended up decapitating the spaceman and having to draw another one I'd have gone mad.
Child cuts thread of different lengths.
Child is using large kitchen scissors (hadn't bought the kid's ones yet). Child likes to do a "chop-chop" action with scissors. You warn about dangers etc. "Chop-chop" continues. You ignore this, thinking he'll grow tired of it.
"Chop-chop" nearly takes your eye out as you're re-taping chopsticks properly.
Serious words, promises, trust.
Child now cutting sticky tape. Child gets excited and does "chop-chop" when he thinks you aren't looking.
Scissors are removed and put out of reach.
Taping resumes, using your teeth to cut it.
Child asks are you mad. You reply in the negative, then realise you are. You exhale, smile, and fun resumes.
You realise the chopsticks are heavier at one end, and balance bigger shapes on the opposing ends (don't sweat this bit, just readjust your hanging thread at the end, I'm a bit of a perfectionist.)
Your shapes are all hanging from the chopsticks, taped to the thread, and the thread taped to the chopsticks (purists wouldn't use tape at all; making pinholes in the shapes, tiny knots, trimming, tying around the chopsticks, and maybe sealing the knots with a little candle-wax)
You tape a last thread on top to hang mobile from the ceiling.
Hang mobile from the ceiling.
Child spends hours standing under it, exclaiming.
Child discovers he can blow it to make it move.
Baby grabs the spaceman's leg, but it is released without injury.
You sit down to make your "real mobile", the one you could have bought on the internet for $40 but you think you can do better.
Half an hour later you're wondering how much does the shipping cost.
Half an hour later you're admiring your mobile, which looks perfect, except for the sticky tape glistening in the light.

My masterpiece. 

The REAL one, by Flensted. Silly, superfluous ball.
Husband returns from work at 11.45pm, to find you all downstairs, awake, excited to show him the mobiles. Smiles politely and nods, asking with his eyes what the hell's gone on here tonight. Look at the carpet. Decide you need to buy a vacuum cleaner. You all sleep in the next day.

The neatest corner in the whole house.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you'd like to see more crafty ones!

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