What fun – a hand-made baby mobile with cute little woodland creatures, made with air dry clay.
Our good friend Eileen Gallagher designed it and made it, and now she’s teaching us how it was done. And it’s adorable! Thanks, Eileen!
©2016 Eileen Gallagher
Hello fellow paper mache friends,
Recently I have become the proud grandmom to my daughter’s first born son. He needed a baby mobile for over the crib and naturally grandmom jumped to fulfill this desire. The nursery has a lovely woodland theme so I went with that. I got the inspiration from some cute Pinterest mobiles made from felt. So, why can’t they be made from paper mache? I thought I would share the process with you. It would make a lovely baby shower gift or can even be a gift for an older child.
Materials for the critters:
- Tin foil, masking tape, newspaper strips and paper mache paste of your preference
- Jonni’s smooth air dry clay
- Acrylic paints, glazing liquid, varnish
- Thin wire to make the loops for hanging
Materials for the mobile:
- 2 different sized embroidery hoops(use the insides so you don’t have the screw showing)
- Cotton yarn (or fishing line or dental floss)
- Ring to hang it up with
- Embroidery needle
- Optional crochet hook
Find or draw the designs that you want to be hanging off the mobile. Use tin foil to form basic shapes. Don’t worry about detail… that comes later. Cover the tin foil with masking tape. Add a looped piece of wire (like Jonni did for her hummingbird) on the top in order to hang it up for the mobile.
Using the traditional way to do paper mache, cover the shapes with small strips of newspaper and paste with 2 layers. This will give you the first strengthening layer. Let dry.
Make up a batch of Jonni’s smooth air dry clay and begin covering the critters with the clay. Only do one side at a time for ease of handling. You can go ahead and add the details like ears, eyes, etc. at this time. The figures are small enough that the clay will work just fine for details without an armature. Let the first half dry, then do the second half.
While the first half is drying, start working on the actual mobile part. I chose to cover the embroidery hoops with the cotton yarn but you could paint them or leave as is if you want a more rustic look. I also chose to do 2 tiers but 1 tier would be cute as well. You could also crisscross 2 dowels too. There are tons of possibilities here. I crocheted the lines to the top ring as I did not want to see the ends of the yarns, but you can just tie them on as well.
To bury the ends of the yarn, I used an embroidery needle to pass the loose threads though the wrapped yarn on the hoops. I think this step took longer than the making of the critters!
Apply the clay to the other half of the critters.
Gesso, sand if needed, then paint. After painting, I used a glazing liquid with some raw umber paint mixed in to give the critters a more antique feel. I applied the mix and wiped off the excess. This could be skipped, it just was my preference. When dry, apply 2 coats of varnish. For this project I used a satin varnish as I wanted it to catch the grandson’s eye!
Put the mobile together! The top tier held 3 critters, the bottom tier held 5 critters or objects. You can do as many as you would like- there are no rules here! Balance them as needed, tie them on, then bury the ends of the yarn. If you choose to just tie them on bare wood, I would use a drop of glue to keep them in place and to keep the ends of the yarn from being a distraction.
So, that is it. There are so many possibilities for doing cute themed mobiles for that little special someone in your life! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I would love to hear comments and suggestions. I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have. Be well!