Tag Archives: stabile

Alexander Calder’s Mobiles

6 Jan

Mobile – a sculpture frequently of wire and sheet metal shapes with parts that can be set in motion by air currents

In our case, we will be making mobiles that will hang and use balance.

Stabile – an abstract sculpture or construction similar in appearance to a mobile but made to be stationary

• Calder invented a new type of sculpture. His new works were called mobiles because they move.
• Instead of anchoring these three-dimensional works to the ground, Calder usually suspended them from the ceiling to allow them to float freely in space.
• To make a mobile, he attached brightly painted metal shapes to wire, using trial and error to balance each one.
• He usually cut natural forms that looked like leaves and petals rather than hard-edge geometric shapes.
• His use of industrial materials—steel, aluminum, and wire—was new. When Calder’s mobiles move with the breeze, they change shape and cast interesting shadows.
• Some even “sing” as their movable parts rub against each other.

Calder still made regular sculpture, or “stabiles”, that sits firmly on the ground. Calder’s stabiles are huge, bright, sheet-metal sculptures that are designed to fill city plazas, parks, and sculpture gardens.


Gather some materials

Map out your idea first on your desk

Simplify your idea… focus on balance… with eye catching – free from – shapes

Start building

Be flexible with your design as you WILL need to tweak it to get it to balance properly

Start over if you need to

Know when to STOP and be done with your design
Wire Hangers
Wire (telephone wire, jewwlry wire, copper wire)
Colored wooden beads, metallic origami paper, cellophane, buttons, yarn, etc.
Wire cutters
**Cut paper for writing name to hang from hanger

Website: http://calder.org/home.html

Closing Comments: Once the kids figured out that they could bend and warp the wire hangers to make their mobiles “do” certain things for them, their creative juices really flowed at that point. SOme unraveled the hanger to create a completely unique design. Some children really built upon their designs to create the classic Calder cascading look of pieces flowing from one to the other.

Hang your name tag on the hanger when finished
Lesson Title: Alexander Calder’s Mobiles
Room#, Grade, Teacher: Rm. 7, 3rd, Saltsman
Docent/s: Marcie Guthrie, Jim Bargfrede

Name: Marcie Guthrie
Email: mar_seegu@comcast.net
Art Elements/Principles/Artists Reviewed: Form, Alexander Calder