Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Inspiration Mobile - my plans for 2015

Hi fellow crafters, I'm Tori West.  I'm excited to be a part of this blog, to share projects, and learn from other members!  I have already been inspired by this blog - the project I'm sharing today involves a technique I came up with after seeing one of Gloriann Irizarry's tips on creating clay cutters from paper maché forms.

I was thinking about New Year's Resolutions back in December, seeing or hearing about other people's resolutions, and considering how often people break their resolutions (myself included!) it all seems kind of silly, but I think most of us do spend at least a little time pondering changes for the coming year.  I decided that rather than make resolutions, I'd make a list of the things I hoped to do more of in 2015.  I love word art inspiration, so this list turned in to a project - a mobile of words to hang in my studio and remind me of what my "to do" list was for the year.

It's a large mobile - 33"long by 24" wide

Materials & Supplies:
Creative Paperclay® modeling material
craft knife & cutting mat
masking tape
1/8" corrugated cardboard
thin cardboard - a recycled cereal box, gift box, or similar type of material
brass fishing swivels
fishing line/monofilament
.020 brass rod (I used K&S #8159, available in hardware and hobby stores)
"needle nose" pliers or wire bending tool
wire nippers
white glue
rolling pin
baby powder/talcum powder
aluminum foil (optional, if desired for making tiles edges curl up) 
permanent markers
acrylic paints of your choice (I used Delta Ceramcoat leaf green, dark forest green, white, 14K gold, and faux finish glaze base, along with US Art Quest mica colors)

toothbrush, if you choose to spatter paint your pieces

wood strip for suspending tiles - at least 3/16" square by 24" long

drill and small (1/16" or smaller) drill bit.
(If you don't have a bit this small simply tie the monofilament to the wood strip)

decorative beads (one for each string of tiles and larger than your drill bit in diameter - these hold the monofilament strings in place, and one fancy end bead for each line)


Plan your mobile - I started with a list of words, then counted them and divided by two. Came up with an odd number, so I crossed some out, added some, and eventually came up with 17 pairs I wanted to use.  I made a rough sketch of the shapes I'd like to use, decided on the approximate size of each, and drew some possibilities for hanging and layout.  I decided to use the Fibonacci sequence, placing five "tiles" in the middle section.

Create patterns for the tiles, and further define the layout.
tile patterns
I created a larger one for the center piece

Scale layout with two hanging options
(only half of each shown)

As I mentioned, I was inspired by Gloriann's cookie cutter tip - I'd never thought of using plain cardboard as a cookie cutter, but after seeing what she did with paper maché forms, I thought "why not just make my own cookie cutters?".

Once I had the shapes for my tiles, I glued them onto 1/8" corrugated cardboard and cut them out.  I drew a line to the inside of each, leaving about a 1/2" margin, and cut out the center.  Next I cut 1/2" strips from thin cardboard.

Before gluing the strips to the edge of the cardboard, cut small strips of masking tape to hold the thin cardboard in place while the glue dries.  My method for doing this is to place a strip of tape along the edge of the cutting mat, leaving a small bit of it hanging off, which then allows me to cut the strips and be able to peel them off and use them one by one quite easily (don't forget to place something under the cutting mat when cutting past the edge).

Glue the 1/2" thin cardboard strips all the way around the tile shapes, keeping them straight along the edge.  Work a little bit at a time.

(I didn't make a cookie cutter for the larger center piece.  Since there is only one of them I cut the paper pattern out and traced around that)

Once the glue on the cookie cutters dries, roll out the clay to about a 1/8" or less thickness.

Spread a little baby powder on a shallow dish or on your table, dip the cookie cutter edge in to the powder and then press in to clay.  Cut out the desired number of shapes.  If clay starts to stick to the cookie cutter, dip the cutter into the baby powder again.

Cut two clay pieces for each tile in your mobile.

Mark the center of each cookie cutter and, using that as a guide, cut and bend a length of brass rod so that you have an eyelet at the top and bottom of each.

Make one rod for each tile in your mobile.

 The next step is to place a rod in the center of your clay piece, press it in slightly.  Wet the top of the clay and add the second piece on top, sandwiching the rod in between.

Once you have all the tiles made, set them aside to dry.  I set mine aside to dry, then thought it might be nice if they curled up a bit into different shapes while drying, so I decided to put small pieces of foil under corners here and there and in the middle of a few.

After all the tiles are dry, sand as desired, paint with a layer of gesso and allow that to dry.  I painted my tiles with a mixture of greens around the edges.  I then put them in a box all together so I could spatter paint on them and have them match.

My spatter palette consisted of mica green watercolor mixed with glaze base, and gold, with enough water added to make various size droplets on my tiles. Here's a close up view of how the spatter painting looks with gold and green.

Once the paint dries, draw the words on with permanent marker.

Lay tiles out to verify spacing and placement.  In my case, I changed the spacing of my original plan to fit the 24" long piece of wood I had on hand.

Paint wood strip to match the tiles

Now it's time to add the swivels, monofilament, and beads.  I removed the safety snaps from mine, but you can leave them on if you like (it takes pulling them apart with pliers to remove them, in most cases).

After marking out the placement for the tile strings, drill a corresponding hole in the wood strip.  Cut a length of monofilament about 4 inches long.  Thread one end through top of brass swivel, then thread both ends up through hole in wood strip, and through the holes in your bead.  Separate the ends, thread each side over the edge of the bead and back up through the bottom, pull the arrangement up to the wood strip, and knot monofilament several times to hold in place.  Dab knots with a bit of white glue and allow to dry.  when the glue is dry, snip off the ends of the monofilament.

(It's easier to do than it is to explain :) )

For the tiles, add a swivel to the bottom of each one except for the end pieces - those get a decorative bead!  Tie monofilament to the top of each tile, longer than you'll need, so you can make adjustments as you go.  Tie in place on the bottom swivel of the tile before it in the string.

Thank you for joining me on my first post here, 
I hope your plans for 2015 are progressing splendidly!


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Connie said...

This is such a cool project. I have been dreaming about covering my Art Barn ceiling with mobiles and chandeliers. Thank you for all of your wonderful tutorial photos. Come on over and help me celebrate my three year blogging birthday with a Give-A-Way.
Connie :)

Proxxon Tools said...

This is way too cool. thanks for sharing

Meme said...

Great project! Love it! You did a great job on your first post!!!

Meme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Hess said...

I am in love with this!! I am trying to figure a way to adapt it for my middle schoolers. I think they would have a blast creating...keeping the components together between classes would be the challenge :-/