The Etsy Blog

How-Tuesday: Kid-Friendly Bird Mobile


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(Music by Steve Gunn, Eric Beug)

This week’s Etsy how-to unfolds in the Portland, Oregon studio of Joel Henriques of Made by Joel, one of the coolest dads I’ve ever had the chance to meet. An artist, illustrator, painter, and boundless blogger, Joel is a pro at coming up with projects that parents can make and kids will dig. His upcoming book, Made to Play, is due on the shelves in October, 2011.

A lot of folks here in the office swooned over the modern take on the retro design of his Owl Mobile, but I wanted something that folks could customize — according to their own taste or the number of kids in their brood.

When Joel came up with the idea for this bird mobile, I knew it was spot on. Filming him in his Portland home, I realized I was in the presence of one master of fun.




Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Joel’s Template, or draw your own
  • Sticks
  • Paper
  • Eye hook
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Tape
  • Thread or string



Step 1: Print and cut out template

Print out the template, or draw your own onto a piece of paper and cut it out. If you want to make your birds out of paper too dark to print on, print the template on a lighter color paper first, cut it out, and then trace it onto the darker paper with a pencil.


Step 2: Tie string to your stick for hanging

Take a length of string that is about 6″-12″ longer than your stick, and tie each end to either end of your stick. Then take another piece of thread, a few feet long and tie one end of it to the middle of the string. This way you’ll be able to adjust the balance of the stick once you’ve hung the birds.


Step 3: Tape strings to your birds

For the medium bird, take about a 12″ length of string, and tape it in the center of your bird.

For the two small birds, take a length of string about a 12″ long, and tape one bird along the bottom, and then the second bird about 1″ above.

For the mommy and baby bird, take a length of string and a thin piece of tape, taping the string across the hole, on the top of the bird. Then tape the baby bird to the string in the center. You can cut off any excess string at the bottom, and the baby bird should dangle in the center.

If you dislike the angle at which any of your birds hang, you can simply adjust the position of the string under the tape.


Step 4: Tie birds on strings to your stick

It may be easiest at this point to tape the stick to the ceiling, or hang it from a doorknob. Once you’ve done that, simply tie each string onto the stick using a square knot. We’ve done ours with the “mommy bird” in the center, but you can arrange them however you like.

If any of the birds hang down too low, you can simply wrap the string around the stick a few times to shorten it.


Step 5: Put your eye hook in and hang your mobile

Now it’s time to hang your beautiful bird mobile! Go ahead and screw your eye hook into the ceiling, and tie the top of your mobile to the eye hook.


Step 6: Customize your mobile

The last step, which you can actually do any step of the way, is to embellish your mobile and distinguish it with your own design. You can paint it, bedazzle it, or even sew a little heart onto your birds. Whatever you do, make sure to share your results with us in our Flickr pool, and leave a link to them in the comments below. We’ll update this article with a gallery of our favorites!

Thanks to Joel for sharing this project with us. For more projects, recipes, and stories, check out the links below.

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