The simplest paper mobile

This mobile is so simple that I almost feel that it doesn’t deserve its own blog post, but they are so much fun to make that I just had to share this little how-to with you.

I’ve been making this style of paper mobile for a few years with different shapes. My 5 year old son helped make this one as a Christmas decoration a few days ago, but we will continue to enjoy it for a few weeks.

These mobiles add some gentle movement into a room with their turning shapes everytime there’s a breeze or someone walks past and causes a small gust of air.

I made my first one a few years ago using some unloved watercolour paintings. I was hoping to create some artwork for a blank wall but was unhappy with the paintings, so I started cutting up the paper into leaf shapes to see what else I could create. One thing led to another – and before I knew it, I had a wallhanging…

My favourite thing about these hangings is the way the shapes create shadows. The shadows and light constantly change through the day, and the shadows are even striking at night time when you turn on a lamp.

For the leaf mobile I used a sturdy stick, but for the recent star hanging, I used a branch from a weeping birch tree. The different sticks mean that each hanging will be unique which is part of the charm.

And of course this is decoration with a low impact on the environment: we are literally using what we have at our fingertips and it’s practically free (especially if reuse old paper). I love making something beautiful from almost nothing! Then when you’re ready for a change and no longer want your wallhanging, the paper shapes can just be recycled or put the whole thing on the compost heap.

The last two photos above are of a wallhanging I made a few years ago, but now I’ll show you how I made the star mobile.

Let’s get started…

Gather the following items:

  • Thick paper (watercolour paper/thick magazine pages)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Any shapes or templates you’d like to draw round (I used a couple of star cookie cutters) – or draw freehand shapes
  • Needle and thread
  • A stick
  • String to hang the mobile

1.  Begin by cutting out a selection of shapes from whatever paper you’d like. For my leaf mobile, I chose to use the same kind of paper for all the shapes (watercolour paper), but for this star wallhanging, I used a mixture of colours and textures. You could draw the shapes freehand of course, but I knew my son would enjoy drawing around the cookie cutters and cutting them out.

2.  When you have cut out your selection of shapes, begin to group them and think about how you’d like them to hang. There’s no right or wrong – it’s just a matter of preference and experimentation.

3. Take your first paper shape and carefully prick some holes along the length. These holes will be where we stitch.

4. Cut a length of thread – the exact measurement is your choice and depends on how long you’d like your mobile to hang down. Then do a few backstitches at the bottom to secure the thread in place and stop the star from sliding off the end of the thread. After doing the backstitches, continue sewing through the holes in a running stitch towards the top of the star.

5. Then leave a length of thread before attaching a second shape onto the thread. Once again, prick some holes as a guide for stitching, then begin with backstitches to secure the shape in place and stop it from slipping down the thread.

6. Keep adding as many paper shapes as you’d like to the first strand. Here, I chose to attach three. Some of my strands have five stars; others have just one.

7. Then begin a second thread with more shapes.

8. When you’ve made several strands of shapes, it’s time to begin attaching them to the stick. Take your stick and tie the string on each end with a double knot, and hang from a nail on the wall. Trim any excess string.

9. To attach the stars, simply tie the thread around the stick with a double knot and trim any excess thread. Keep adding the strands until you’re happy with how it looks. Consider how balanced it appears visually and also how balanced the weight is. You may find that the stick slopes down if there’s more weight on one side. Adjust it until you’re happy.

Have fun with this really simple method! This mobile was made for Christmas but I know we will enjoy it for a few weeks as it makes us so happy to look at. You could also attach some real leaves to the threads too; the possibilties are endless! Tag me on Instgram @rebeccadesnos or #rebeccadesnos if you make one. I’d love to see!