Not Just for Kids

Mobiles Are Art in Motion

Guest Editor M.L. Faunce

Mobiles are not just to hang on a baby's crib. They're modern art.

Mobiles were first made by Alexander Calder, an American artist who started as a boy making wire and wooden toys. Calder created a whole circus of animals and performers with wire and cloth.Alexander Calder exhibit

He also liked to draw figures and animals in one continuous line, never lifting the pencil from the page.

To see what his animals looked like, draw your own favorite animal without taking your pencil off the page until you're done.

Calder next made stabiles, sculptures that stand still.

And mobiles, sculptures with parts that move. Mobiles mean movement. You're mobile when you move and jump and play. Mobiles move when they are suspended freely in space.

Mobiles are shapes - circles, triangles, rectangles and squares - floating in space, suspended by a string or wire. If the shapes are balanced, they will spin and float, turn and twirl. Touch them or blow on them, and watch them move.

Generally mobiles hang from a ceiling, but some are mounted on pedestals.


See Calder's Mobiles

Before you make your own mobile, you might want to see (and touch) some of Alexander Calder's mobiles at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibit continues through July 12, but many mobiles and stabiles are part of the permanent collection.

Calder's "Southern Cross" is shown below.

It's a good idea to call for Gallery hours and directions before you go: 202/737-4215. For a preview, you can look the mobiles up on the Worldwide Web: Start at

Making a Mobile

You don't have to be an artist or mechanical engineer to make mobilea mobile. All you need are -


A. string or wire;

B. Thin sticks or a clothes hanger;

C. Scissors or a wire cutter;

D. Crayons, markers, chalk or paint;

E. Paper, cardboard, wood, plastic or metal.


Start with paper or cardboard. They're easier to cut. If you like making mobiles, you can move on to wood, plastic or metal.

Color your paper or cardboard with paint or crayons. Calder liked bold and bright colors: orange, red, and black.

Cut out your favorite shapes. Make a school of fish or a sky full of stars and planets or a circus full of animals ­ any designs you like.

Tie the shapes to thin sticks or a hanger, with string or wire, and suspend so your creation is hanging freely in the air.

Now comes the balancing act.

Let's see how good you are at making your mobile float and spin and twirl!

Kids' Calendar

Dragonflies! Prehistoric Predators! Thurs. May 28 (2-3pm)­Ages 5 to 12 discover dragonflies and learn how they fit the ecosystem at Patuxent Refuge, North Tract, Laurel. Free. Call Ahead: 410/674-3304.

Get Involved at the Library this Summer Before May 31­Ages 12 to 14 volunteer to help with crafts, books and registration for this year's Summer Reading Program at your local Public Library, June 15 July 31. Call for info: 410/222-7371.

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VolumeVI Number 20
May 21-27, 1998
New Bay Times

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