Art at Home: Calder-Inspired Found Material Mobiles!

Ages 4+ (toddlers may have trouble with the cutting parts)

Alexander Calder was a sculptor who has very strong roots in Philadelphia! If you’ve ever been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art you may have seen one of his large mobiles hanging there.

What you’ll need:

  • A hanger
  • Pipe cleaners (if you got ‘em!)
  • Wire: any kind but should be somewhat flexible!
  • Scissors
  • Glue (Optional)
  • Paper: printer paper, magazine paper, and/or construction
  • Drawing materials
  • Fun 3D materials: think tiny objects you may floating around: a marker cap, a small container, an old pencil!

For Hanging Shapes:

  1. Cut paper pieces into shapes: about the size of your kiddo’s hand. Any shape will do! Think outside the box. Blobs? Animal faces? 
  2. Punch holes into each shape
  3. Color on your shapes with the drawing materials you have
  4. The more shapes you create, the more creative fun to be had!

For Creating Hanging Armature:

  1. The hanger will be your main structure from which to hang your shapes!
  2. Twist pieces of wire along the horizontal bar of the hanger. 
  3. Twist the other ends of these wire pieces into the holes of the shapes you’ve created. (No hole puncher? No problem. Poke the wire right through the paper and twist it!)
  4. Once you’ve started hanging shapes from wire, see if you can hang shapes from other shapes! Check out the image above to see just one way these mobiles can turn out!

Collage onto your shapes by cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them to your shapes.
Add 3D objects to your mobile: twist a wire around them and hang them from your hanger or from a paper shape: this can create a fun conversation about balance!

Mobile, 1932
Fun Fact: Calder’s grandfather, Alexander Milne Calder, sculpted the giant statue of William Penn that stands on top of Philadelphia’s City Hall!


Philly Art Center has been cultivating creative genius in kids and adults since 2004. We inspire every student to create, play, laugh and learn! Learn more