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Calder's Mobiles & Stabiles

Recently, i was asked to contribute to a Girl Scout troop's education activity on mobiles and stabiles.


I retrieved an abandoned mobile kit project that seems perfect for 10 and 11 year old girls. Colorful on one side, the back side of the parts have been left white for a bit of personalization with writing and/or coloring.

Three colored shapes snap onto arm ends (dot of glue optional). String is cut, tied and adjusted to approximate length, connecting the five sections. For this troop, twelve color prints were mounted on 8-1/2 x 11" elite flute corrugated cardboard and laser cut. After a short discussion on levers and balance, parts can be punched out and assembled in perhaps half an hour.


When viewing Alexander Calder's stabiles, one might note that he was doing with flat planes as he had done with drawing . . . He considered his work with wire to be drawing in three dimensional space.

. . . and his stabiles to be the unfolding of flat sheet materials into three dimensional space. This is evident in his many models.

image from: Calder, From Model to Monument, Marc Glimcher, 2006, PaceWildenstein p. 17, (original sheet metal maquette, 20 x 18 x 14")


This PDF (download) is an approximation of the model (above) and is intended for printing on paper + mounting on chipboard and then cutting -or- laser cutting from chipboard or other foldable sheet material. The parts can be fastened together with a folded piece of wire (as above) or eyelets, small nut & bolt or even glue.

Beginning with the model folded flat, it is unfolded to stand. This simple process demonstrates the kind of transformations Alexander Calder was playing with as he developed his stabiles.