Try This DIY Art Project:
How To Make a Handmade Bird Mobile

Apartment Therapy Tutorials

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Here's a great idea for a DIY art project you can make, inspired by the art of Mark Hearld. Hearld is a British artist whose gorgeous prints, illustrations, and ceramics depict British fauna and flora dancing with color and movement. His installation at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a huge flock of painted wood birds suspended over visitors— something I dreamed of hanging in my house. Alas, I'll have to (happily) make do with this DIY bird mobile I concocted instead.

What You Need

Materials

  • Medium gauge wire (I used copper)
  • Thick paper (too thin and shapes curl over time) or cardboard
  • Gouache, watercolors, or other paint of your choice

Tools

  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters

Instructions

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1. For my template, I half drew, half traced an image of one of Mark Hearld's birds onto a piece of recycle paper. Cut it out, and trace as many birds as you can fit onto your paper. Use either scissors or an X-acto knife to cut them out.

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2. Paint Birds: Simple patterns seem best, and while I stuck with black and white, layers of color look fabulous. For an abstract, pre-schooler friendly approach, have your children paint both sides of a few sheets of paper before cutting out the birds.
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3. Build Their Sky: The frame of this mobile is just varying lengths of wire with the ends folded into loops. To assemble it, you'll want to tie the bars onto the string so that they hang about a foot apart. This can either be done on the floor or hung from a pin on a blank wall. Start from the top and work down, with some bars suspended from the middle of their neighbors, and some from the tips. In the end you'll add a drop of glue to keep your knots from sliding but, for now, you want to be able to adjust how the whole piece is balanced.
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4. Hang Your Birds: With a pushpin or sewing needle, punch a small hole in the top of each bird and string a knotted thread through it. This is where a blank wall really helps since you can balance everything without the mobile constantly spinning around. If you don't have a blank wall to spare, use a doorway. Starting at the top bar, tie birds to the ends and some middles. I used two to three birds per level. As you go, shift different knots back and forth to adjust how the mobile balances. Don't worry about the lower levels, which will likely slip around; it's all about weight and their flopping makes no difference. Your ultimate goal is for each level and individual bird to fully rotate without knocking into anything else. Take your time with this stage. It's easy but requires patience. When everything is positioned to your liking, gently remove the mobile from the wall and hang it in a doorway to double check that nothing hits anything else. If all's a go, place a drop of glue on every knot to ensure they don't slide later.

You're all ready to hang your flock! I had mine over my bed (which is rather dreamy to wake up to) but for this post I moved it into the living room and it might be there to stay.

(Image credits: Emil Evans)

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