Nursery Mobile

What is that light and airy thing hanging over the crib? It's a mobile! And not just any mobile, a mobile made by yours truly.

The budget for our nursery project was tiny, so I knew if I wanted a mobile I would have to make one myself. After doing some browsing I fell in love with the pinwheel mobiles by Dosta Beba. Gorgeous, yes, but there was no way I was going to pay $70 for a mobile that I could make with my own two hands.

In fact, this project is simple enough that I am writing this post as a (kind of) how-to. You can follow along with my pictures, but there are so many ways to vary the process and make your mobile your own!

With a healthy dose of inspiration, I set about designing my pinwheels. My first decision was what to use for the pattern - scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, starched fabric? After much deliberation I decided to go with something more personal. I chose to draw my own patterns rather than use something store bought. Then, instead of paper or card stock I chose vellum for the pinwheels to add to the light, ethereal feeling.

First I picked 4" for my pinwheel size and cut out 7 squares of graph paper, each 4" x 4". Then I drafted each of my patterns onto the graph paper. Some just came to me, some required some tweaking. I definitely made some mistakes, so I would advise working first in pencil or cutting some back-up squares. Once my designs were final I went over them with pen to make them more visible.

Next I broke out my Prismacolor markers, left over from my design school days, to trace the patterns on the vellum. If you don't have any of these (pricey) markers, there's no need to rush out and buy some. You can use anything you want to make your patterns - paint, colored pencils, colorful masking tape. Heck, you could even skip the hand-drawing and print a design with your printer!

I decided on these shades of blue and green to compliment the wall color, but not match it exactly (much like the wallpaper on the dresser).

Here you can see some completed patterns, which are just traced copies of my pen-on-graph paper originals. I found it easiest to draw the pattern on the paper, then cut the perimeter and corner-to-corner lines. If you aren't sure where to make your cuts, a simple spin around Google should clear things up.

The next task was to turn my squares into pinwheels. I used 2 different glues to make these, rubber cement and tacky glue, both of which are available at most craft stores.

I applied a thin layer of rubber cement to the end of every other point (the part that gets glued down) and to the center of the square (where the points are placed). Rubber cement works best if you let all the glue dry for about 30 seconds, or to the point where it feels sticky and no longer looks shiny. Then I folded the glued points onto the center and pressed to bond the glue.
The second step secured the bond and gave the pinwheel a more finished look. I applied a small dab of tacky glue to the back of a button and pressed it onto the center of the pinwheel. I had to hold it for a bit to let it set, but tacky glue dries quickly so that didn't take long. Both rubber cement and tacky glue dry clear so I didn't worry if I got some excess around the middle.

Now that the pinwheels were complete it was time to construct the mobile. I cut a 1/4" round dowel into 3 pieces, each 12" long. Next I drilled a small hole in the center of each dowel and 1/4" in from each end.

Now I needed to decide how low I wanted my pinwheels to hang from the supports - I decided on 6" for the center pinwheel and 4", 6" and 8" (2 each) for the outer pinwheels - and cut my thread accordingly. I doubled the length (you'll see why in a minute) then added about 8 extra inches to give myself some wiggle room. I used white sewing thread because I wanted it to recede visually, but you can mix it up with some colored string or even use clear fishing line.

Using a thumb tack, I poked a hole through each of the 4 button holes, making sure to pierce through all layers of glue and paper. I used a needle to "sew" the criss-cross through the button, with two even lengths of thread hanging out the back of the pinwheel. I tied the two pieces of thread in a knot at the base to create a double strand.

Next I attached the pinwheels to the dowels. I used a needle to pull the thread through the drilled holes, wrapped the thread around the dowel a few times and tied it off. I chose to use a bit of glue to attach the loose ends to the dowel, giving the thread a stronger hold and a more polished look.

After all the pinwheels were tied onto the dowels it was time to glue the 3 dowels together. After much trial and error, I found the easiest way to do this was to make friends with gravity. I cut a 10' long piece of thread, folded it in half and used my needle to run it through the first 2 dowels - the one with the 3 pinwheels must go on the bottom - then tied the whole thing to my ceiling fan to give me some hands-free support. I eyeballed a 60 degree angle between the 2 dowels and glued them in place. After that dried, I added the third dowel and glued it in place using the same method.

After letting the whole thing dry overnight I installed a small hook in the ceiling and hung the bad boy up!

Here's a Peanut's-eye-view:

So what do you think? Can you see yourself making a mobile for a wee one in your life?

1 comment:

  1. I love making pinwheels! What a fabulous idea!