Art Lesson: Calder Style Mobiles

Calder Style Mobiles1

Submitted by: Larry Prescott, Madison Middle School
Rexburg, Idaho
Grade Level: 6-8



Larry said, "First the wire was purchased at Lowes. I believe it is called baling wire... it is very cheap (7.95 a roll?) and a few roles will make 30 to 40 mobiles. You might be able to find the wire at a farm or ranch store. Next, I purchased needle nose pliers at Wal-Mart for 2.00 to 3.00 a piece. Each kid needs a pair of these pliers.


I also purchased some slip joint pliers and side cutters at Wal-Mart for the same price. These tools are used to make the "jump" connecting rings. The individual shapes were first cut from a cardboard box and then covered with layers of paper maché to give the shapes more substance."


"When dry, the shapes were sanded using an orbital sander. This produces a product much like Balsa Wood.. (Note: I have made mobiles like this in the past and have used shoe polish over the dry tempera. When brushed and polished, the pieces look like carved wood and have a very nice "feel" to them).


Next they were painted with tempera paint. Kids then drilled the holes with an electric drill. I used an old 2x6 (5 x 15 cm) under the pieces when they were being drilled. Kids who finished the mobiles early were encouraged to experiment with the wire by making sculptures."


"I used the video Alexander Calder from the American Masters [VHS]. series (DVD: Alexander Calder (American Masters).. It was fantastic. A must see. My 7th graders were focused the entire time. I also showed the video Mobiles: How to Create Them by Timothy Rose. I have seen very few good "how to" videos, but this one is an exception. The middle section of the video is the most valuable. He gives some good technical advice regarding the construction of mobiles."


2 Materials:

Bailing wire
Needle nose pliers.
Slip joint pliers.
Side cutters.
Cardboard boxes
Paper Mache.
Orbital sander. (or sanding blocks)
Tempera Paint.
Electric Drill.


"This was a fun project and the kids enjoyed using actual tools. One side note... the making of the jump rings (shown in the Rose video became very popular) Kids made the connection between jump rings and chain mail. Several kids began to create small pieces of jewelry including gold painted chains... who would guess! I may use the jewelry diversion as a major area of study next year."



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