05 November 2014

DIY: starry calder mobile

Preparing for Baby P has meant that the last seven-ish months in our apartment can be summed up as follows: 1) cleaning out of a lot of stuff, 2) accumulating a lot of stuff, 3) organizing a lot of stuff. Lather, rinse, repeat. For example: no sooner had I cleared out our basement than it was full of boxes, and as soon as I organized those, it filled up again. Welcome to the next several years of my life, I suppose.

But occasionally, I get lucky and find something I can repurpose, thus knocking out items 1 and 2 up there in one fell swoop. Such was the case when I was cleaning out a closet and found this mobile:

That mobile was a souvenir from a trip to Costa Rica in my freshman year of high school, when it was the 90s and I was firmly in a butterfly phase. It’s a miracle it made it home intact, as the wings of those butterflies are made from some sort of semi-translucent, hardened film. It hung in my room until I was well out of my butterfly phase, but even once I took it down, I couldn’t get rid of it. It’s survived a surprising number of moves and organizational purges over the years, despite starting to look worse for wear.

Even though it’s been delicately packed up, it’s old enough that the wings of the butterflies were just starting to crack apart. Maybe you can’t tell, but every single butterfly has at least one crack or hole in its wings – some more giant and obvious and sad than others. And it has so many years of dust accumulated on the butterflies, but I suspect if I touch them, they’ll just crumble to bits.

So when I re-discovered it in the closet, I at first had high hopes for incorporating it into the nursery... but finally decided it just looked too pathetic. I mean, if it were in pristine condition, I could get over the bright colors and Mariah-Carey-esque feelings it invoked. But as it was... meh.

Still, it got me excited about the idea of a calder-style mobile over Baby P’s crib. I looked all over online, trying to find just the right one, ultimately rejecting all of them. And then I realized... oh hey. I already have a mobile. I just need to switch up what’s hanging from it.

And so! A few pairs of pliers later...

And I was left with this:

How perfect is that?! A super-sturdy, calder-esque frame from which I could hang anything I pleased.

Of course... “anything I pleased” meant making another inconsequential décor-related decision, which I am terrible at nowadays. I hemmed and hawed for awhile before finally just letting someone else decide for me. And by that, I mean my sisters-in-law, who threw a stars-themed baby shower for us. Stars! Good enough!

Since I wanted this mobile to hang over his crib, I didn’t want anything super high-contrast. Yes, babies respond best to black and white... but his crib is not for responding, it is for sleeping as long as possible. And so, I went for neutrals. But instead of basic white, I took a tip from my faux-capiz-shell chandelier and ironed together four pieces of wax paper between two pieces of parchment paper.

I didn’t do as good a job of ironing it together this time (probably because I forgot to turn off the steam), but whatever. It’ll do!

Then I just traced a bunch of stars, used a gold sharpie around the edges, and cut them out.

To suspend them from the chandelier, I poked a hole in the top of each star with a needle and made little loops with transparent thread.

Tying it around my pinky ensured relatively uniform loops!

Once I’d made enough stars, it was time to hang! I just strung it up with fishing line, so when he gets bigger, it can go higher. Ta-da!

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t 100% convinced the stars were exactly the right choice... and I entertained a million other alternatives, even as I was making the stars. But I think that’s just because I’m being a downer about every décor decision nowadays. I think it turned out nicer than I expected!

And it’s interesting enough from Baby P’s perspective, too... once he’s able to see more than three inches in front of his face, that is.

The best part? Making this mobile helped clear out a closet! Plus it was relatively easy, and oh yes, FREE:

Time spent:
Since I worked on this in ten-minute chunks here and there, I’d have to guess that making the stars was the longest part, but even then, only an hour or so. Tying on the transparent thread was the most time-consuming part, and that’s just because I insisted on doing it at 11PM at night when I could barely see.

calder mobile frame: already owned
wax paper, gold Sharpie, and iron to make stars: already owned
transparent thread and fishing line to hang: already owned
Total cost: $0.00

Of course, not everyone has a seventeen-year-old butterfly mobile from Costa Rica stashed away in their closet, and this would be more expensive and time-consuming without that. BUT, I think you could purchase moderately heavy wire and use that photo of the dissembled mobile up there as a template for your own frame!

So for now, Baby P gets a starry, slumbery mobile over his crib – but it’ll be so easy to dissemble again that I’m already dreaming up what other sort of stuff I could swap out for the stars. Who knows what his little personality will want? It’ll be fun to find out!


Tina said...

I'd recently seen somewhere how to diy this film inside a small metal-shaped frame (like flower petals) and remembered seeing the sad-looking & so-fragile butterflies laying out in your guest room, too. I meant to offer to try to repair them, but kept forgetting... And I am so glad I did! This is so much more perfect for Baby P! I love it!

Miles said...

I really love those stars!

Mechelle Dyer said...

Oh...I love it...great idea!

Janice said...

The stars turned out great and it's a fun reminder of the party in Baby P's honor :)