How to Make a Calder Mobile

I love Alexander Calder! I teach a Calder wire project each year, but I have never successfully made a Calder-inspired mobile. Until now!

I recently received this 1975 edition of Making Things: Book 2. The Handbook of Creative Discovery by Ann Wiseman. Inside this gloriously illustrated book I found these  instructions for making Calder mobiles:

Making Things Book 2 – Handbook of Creative Discovery by Ann Wiseman. ISBN-10: 0316948519


Easy to follow step by step illustrations for a variety of mobiles


I decided to test it out with items I had on hand in the art room.

Materials for first mobile:

  • 18-inch pre-cut Stem Wire (AKA floral wire) 20 gauge
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • pliers (note: I didn’t have any pliers so I just did this with my hands)


Materials for making a simple Calder-inspired mobile


Ms. Wiseman tells us mobiles are built from the bottom up. Aha!

Success! A 4-tier mobile!

Now for my second mobile. I made this mobile using Ann Wiseman’s illustrations and Peel & Stick Foam Sheets.

Calder-inspired mobile made with wire and self-adhesive craft foam.

To add interesting organic shapes, sandwich wires between matching pieces of self-adhesive craft foam.

If you choose to make these multiple tier wire mobiles, try it yourself first, be patient, and expect a lot trial and error. Balancing those wires is tricky and takes practice. I think these projects would be great for middle and high school students.

If you want to try this with a whole class of upper elementary students, I would keep it simple. Stick with one or two wires. Check out this project from Meet the Masters. I like how they have three degrees of difficulty and incorporate a stabile as a base.

Illustration from Meet the Masters website.


Here are some more ideas for Calder mobiles for kids:

If you love Calder, you might like my previous Calder posts:


Have you ever made a mobile with your students? 


Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Note: post updated 12/30/13

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