Happy Birthday Alexander Calder

In honor of one of our favorite artists, Alexander Calder – we have a project for you!

(Don’t forget to check out our Calder inspired Circus).

This is a project that is a little tougher for kids and even the older ones may need some adult help.


  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • glue
  • twigs, stick or skewers (with the pointy end cut off)
  • thread (or light weight string) cut into approx 40 cm,                                               plus one longer piece to hang the mobile
  • construction paper or craft foam
  • Calder inspired shapes

Step 1: Draw (or trace) your shapes onto the construction paper (or craft foam). Remember when choosing the colors Calder used mainly primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and black. You can choose to be inspired by his color palette or make up your own. Cut out the shapes.

Step 2 Use hole puncher to punch holes into shapes

Step 3: Tie* a piece of string to each shape.

Step 4: We’re going to start from the bottom layer up. Choose 2 shapes and tie them on to each end of the stick, about equal distance from the end. Each shape should dangle approx 5-10 cm from the skewer. Put a dot of glue where the knot and the stick meet, this is to keep the string from sliding around. This will be stick 1.

Step 5: Now comes the tricky part, tie a string in the center of the stick. Hold the end of the center string and you will see that everything tilts from one side. You must slide the knot from one side to the other to try and balance the stick. Slide the knot towards the shape that is lower, this will help balance the weight out. You will have to slide it back and forth a few times to figure out where the perfect center of balance is. Once you’ve figured it out, put a dot of glue on the knot. Congratulations, you have just completed the first layer!

Step 6: Using the center string of stick 1, tie the layer to the end of another stick (stick 2) and put a dot of glue. Choose another shape and tie it onto the other end of stick 2 and put a dot of glue. Tie another string onto the the middle of stick 2 and then find the center of balance, then put a dot of glue.

Step 7:  Repeat step 7 for the rest, until you have just 2 shapes left. (You don’t have to do all the shapes, just until you are satisfied).

Step 8: Tie all the layers to the end of another stick (the top stick)  and put a dot of glue.

Step 9: Tie this last layer onto end of the top stick.  Tie a long piece of string to the center

Step 10 :Tah dah! You are finished! You have just completed your Calder inspired mobile.  Now hang the mobile up and you watch it move.  Do the shapes make different things when it moves? Does it look like a fish? A smiling face?

*To tie a regular knot, we like to say a little poem to remember what to do:                    Over, under, easy to do. Reach through the hole and pull it through.

However – we like to use a surgeons knot, the end of the string is pushed through the hole twice before pulling.  This keeps the knot from unraveling so easily. You might have to change the poem to: over, under and under again, easy to do. Reach through the hole and pull it through :o)

Just in case you can’t understand the pictures, perhaps an illustrated version might help!

ESL EFL bilingual vocabulary to concentrate on: opposites left, right, heavier, lighter, higher, lower.

To read this in Italian, click here.

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