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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Tuesday- Friday10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 5pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

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Making Art Together

Materials, Movement and Mobiles

Inspired by shooting stars, soaring owls and blinking fireflies in the exhibition The Art of Eric Carle: Night, we have been exploring mobiles in our Everyday Art Project, Things That Fly in the Night Sky. This project got us thinking about how we design and select materials for moving sculpture projects in the Art Studio.

When planning mobile projects, we often start by thinking about a material that could provide a stable structure to support hanging materials. For this project, we used leftover poster board because it is both strong and easy to punch holes into, providing a good anchor point for hanging. We cut ours into curved aerodynamic shapes as a starting point, but many guests continued to work with and change the shape as their ideas developed.

We wanted to provide easy to use cutting tools and discovered that these small punchers are great to hold or put on a table top, and require much less force to use than the traditional models like the one pictured above. 

In order to attach objects to the sculptures, we provided a variety of strings, ribbons and yarn cut to about 6 – 12 inches. By introducing a variety of textures, this connecting material becomes an interesting design feature within the mobile. 

We have found tape to be a fantastic material to include in our mobile making as it provides an instant connection between surfaces, and can either add a pop of color or virtually disappear depending on the type you select.  For this project we offered both masking tape and clear tape as an option. 

We also enjoy using paper straws for construction because they fit perfectly into the holes created by our punchers and can act as both a connector and as a beautiful design feature. 

As we consider what objects to suspend from our mobiles, we look to what we have around the Art Studio. These found materials then get sorted by color, shape or material. This makes everything easier to see, select from and put away for someone else to find. In this project, we were inspired by the idea of objects glowing and shining in the night sky so we used metallic tempera paint and glitter glue to give our cardboard found materials an extra sparkle. We also pulled out metallic patterned collage papers recycled from a stamping project earlier in the year. When attached, the papers and objects turn and flutter gently as the air circulates around them and the metallic paint catches the light. 

Guests have used the materials to experiment with balance, evoke a place or create a creature.

 The mobiles are interesting to look at as individual sculptures . . .

 . . . or in a group.

We continue to enjoy creating mobiles with guests and discovering the endless ways to explore movement with materials. 



We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 


by Meg Nicoll

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 at 10:01 am and is filed under By Meg Nicoll, Displays & Window Shades, Found Materials, Nature, Paper, Sculpture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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