With my final project I set out to design a kinetic sculpture in the vein of the works of Alexander Calder.
Early in the process, I settled on a Chinese New Year aesthetic, planning to utilize various artifacts associated with the holiday as my ornaments. My initial sketches pushed me towards a hanging mobile structure.
From there I acquired decorations from a Chinese market, and old lucky money envelopes from my basement.
I hung some of the ornaments on a coat rack to give me a sense of how the structure would balance.
Next I bought a few wooden rods from a crafts store, drilled a hole into a block of wood, and inserted a rod, forming the base of my structure. Crucially, I also obtained about 100 yards of flexible metal wire, which would allow me to wrap around the base and hang my ornaments. Originally I planned on shaping a metal base, with a few branches on either side at the top, though this would’ve been a much more rigid structure, which wouldn’t have aligned as well with my overall design goals.
After wrapping the first layer of the base, I sketched an outline for the mobiles, which would roughly balance in a stepping pattern.
However, this pattern assumes an equal weight between each of the ornaments. I my case, there was a fairly large discrepancy, so the actual mobiles were all aligned differently a bit off center to accommodate the different object weights.
I purchased 5 rods total, each of which was enough for about 1 mobile, so I planned to have 4 main hanging branches.
I spent a fair amount of time balancing each mobile and gluing the components to the string and rods.
Once I’d added all 4 branches, the sculpture still felt a bit baron, with too many desperate parts and gaps between the top and the mobiles. So I decided to add 4 smaller mobiles in between each of the existing arms, so the final layout is similar to a wheel divided into eighths. But before adding on the remaining mobiles I removed them to finalize the base.
This meant wrapping the wood at the bottom with more wire.
I first added a square layer around the entire base, then began wrapping in a circular pattern, to make it look more natural.
From there, I constructed four smaller mobiles and wrapped a layer of string around the stem before hanging all the mobiles. The final sculpture ended up being quite balanced, though it’s mobiles still move when touched or blown by a current of air, which was the intention.