Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paper Mobile

I saw a mobile similar to this on Etsy; after a quick look, I realized just how easily (and cheaply!) they could be made!  I really wanted one for our nursery, so I decided to go for it.  The paper is so light and the strands twirl so beautifully; plus, with so many colours of cardstock available, it was really easy to match this to our other nursery decor.

While these mobiles are super easy, there are quite a few steps involved and they are quite tedious.  I figured I'd do a quick tutorial to walk you through it.  Please forgive the shifting colours and light as the day progressed in my bonus room.  :)

Supplies needed: 
6 sheets of 12x12 cardstock in your choice of colour(s)
1 small ball of thin twine or sewing thread
Circle punch or punches - I used three sizes (2", 1 3/4", 1 1/2") but you could easily do these with other sizes or even with all one size
Crimping beads - approximately 150-200 (optional)
Beading pliers (optional; only needed if using crimping beads)
2' of dowling (I used 7/16" diameter)
Acrylic paint and a small paintbrush
Ribbon (approximately 8 feet)
Hot glue gun

PART 1 - Preparing the rack.
1.  Cut your dowling into two pieces of equal length.  Mine are 12" each, but size yours as you wish.  Sand the cut edges to remove any sharp bits.

2.  Paint your rods.  One coat of acrylic paint is sufficient.

3.  Mark your dowels at the midpoint (make sure to measure!)  Using a liberal amount of hot glue, glue your dowels together at the midpoint in an X (or +) formation.  Don't worry if the glue is messy; you won't see it in a minute.

4.  Wrap the intersection of the two rods with approximately 8-12" of ribbon, using hot glue to fasten the end.  Make sure you have approximately 7' of the same ribbon remaining; you'll need it later.

PART 2 - Preparing the mobile.
1.  Using your circle punch(es), cut circles from your cardstock.  If you are using more than one colour and/or more than one size of circle, make sure to alternate.  All together, you will need 148 circles to make 12 strands.  You will want some sort of pattern in each strand, so cut and arrange accordingly as your work.  I used three patterns on my strands (four strands of each pattern) but the circles varied in size.  I made four strands of 11 circles and eight strands of 13 circles.

2.  Arrange your circles into 12 lines.  Each line will become a strand.

3.  Using a sewing needle or pin, punch a hole in the center of each circle.  I found that pushing in the pin and rotating it  around worked well to make the hole large enough.  You do NOT want the holes perfectly centered, so eyeballing this step works perfectly.

This is where you have two options: either using knots or using crimping beads.  Using the knot method is VERY tedious - please keep in mind that for a mobile this size, you will tie approximately 600 knots.  This is why I switched to crimping beads and started over after doing a few lines.

4.  OPTION A:  Cut a length of twine (approximately 1 yard) and tie a large knot in the bottom.  Given that the twine is thin, each knot is usually 4-5 overlapping knots to make it an adequate size.  (From this point forward, please remember when I say "tie a knot" I'm actually referring to tying 4-5 overlapping knots.)  Thread on your first circle.  Tie another knot approximately 1" to 1 1/2" above the circle.  Thread on another circle.  Repeat with 11-13 circles per strand.  Set each strand aside as you continue working until all 12 strands are done.  (Hint:  I found it helpful to tape each strand to the bannister as I worked.  Use masking tape.)

OPTION B:  Cut a length of twine (approximately 1 yard) and flatten a crimping bead at the bottom.  Thread on your first circle.  Add another crimping bead approximately 1" to 1 1/2" above the circle.  Thread on another circle.  Repeat with 11-13 circles per strand.  Set each strand aside as you continue working until all 12 strands are done.  (Hint:  I found it helpful to tape each strand to the bannister as I worked.  Use masking tape.)

The photo shown is using the crimping beads.

These are my 12 strands, all shown together, taped to the bannister as mentioned above.

PART 3 - Putting it all together.

1.  Arrange your strands into two groups of six strands in the order you would like them to rest on the bars.  For the mobile to have this shape, you will want your longer strands in the middle of the mobile and the shorter strands at the ends of the rods.

2.  Starting with one rod, gather your outermost strands and tie the strand to the rod.  I simply tied a knot, wrapped the excess string around the rod a few times, tied another knot and trim the excess at both the top and bottom.

Please pardon my husband's hairy man-arms for the next few pics!

3.  Next, tie the innermost strands, repeating the same process as above.

4.  Lastly, tie on the center strands, aligning them between the inner and outer strands of each section.

5.  Repeat the last three steps on the other rod.

6.  Remember that extra 7 feet of ribbon I had you set aside earlier?  Cut it into five pieces:  four 18" pieces and one 12" piece.

7.  With each 18" piece, glue the end of it to the end of the rod with the remaining ribbon going toward the center of the mobile.  Repeat with each rod.

8.  Cut the remaining ribbon into four short (2"-ish) pieces.

9.  Wrap each short ribbon piece around the glued portion of the ribbon to cover the rough edge.

10.  Gather all four long pieces of ribbon toward the center and tie in a knot near the top.  Trim ends.

Your mobile is complete!

As I mentioned above, this mobile is very inexpensive to make.  Here's the breakdown (please note I don't include the cost of tools as I assume you have these already!)

6 sheets of cardstock at $0.70 each:  $4.20
200 crimping beads:  $10.00
Spool of twine:  $4.29
Spool of ribbon:  $2.00
Acrylic paint:  $0.99
Dowling:  $1.38

Total cost:  $22.86

If you choose to do the mobile with knots instead of crimping beads, your cost is only $12.86!  You just can't beat that. 

I hope this was helpful!  Please feel free to comment with questions or suggestions.  Cheers!


  1. Love it, I have grandbaby #4 on the way and already knew that I wanted to make a butterfly hanging for the older sister--she's the only girl. #4 is a boy. No matter what I am excited no matter what gender they are. Love them.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is so cute! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Amazing! Thanks for taking the time to share this! YOU ROCK- God bless you!

  4. Easy to make!!!

    Wow...This is what i have been looking for and you have done a great job. Beautiful cards.
    scrapbooking supplies

  5. Those whole punchers are easily $10 each!

  6. Great idea! I'm going to make a red-white-blue one for my Bluegrass craft room! Thanks so much for your tutorial!