Sunday, August 17, 2014

Airplane & Cloud Mobile Project

Sturdy paper toy planes and slice form clouds
combine with a whimsical "mobile" stand
for this project for a nursery, party centerpiece, 
or child's bedroom decoration.


1. First thing to do is plan your mobile. Ours features four clouds and four planes.

2. For each slice-form cloud, you will need to cut one each of the three shapes. Note that each shape is different as defined by the center slot. 
TOP has slot going 2/3rds up from bottom
MIDDLE has shorter slots at top and bottom
BOTTOM has slot going 2/3rds down

If your paper is NOT two sided, cut double the shapes, one for each of the three required as front and back,

3. Cut front and back edge outline (or echo) shapes for the three cloud body shapes, for six total echo shapes.

For added interest and visual texture, I distressed the edges of my layered/attached shapes using the Tim Holtz tools and ink.

4. Layer and attach matched shapes to make the clouds have the "pretty" face on both front and back.

5. Slide the slide forms together at the center slots. 

Here I have started by sliding the middle form (at bottom in this photo), up at the center of the bottom slice,

Add the decorative stars as desired to the cloud faces all around.

6.  For each plane, you will need to cut one each of five shapes: center body (includes the hang holes and does NOT have its own echo shape), upper right side body, upper left side body, lower right side body, lower left side body, plus echo shapes for each of last four listed.

7. Attach the echo shape to each matching body shape (except no echo for center body).

8. When echo shapes adhesives are dried and fully "cured", use a straight edge (mine is an acryllic quilting ruler) laid along the center perforation line of each and press half back to a right angle.

Since this creasing step often makes some of the edges pop, you may need to re-apply glue and press to ensure that all seams are secure and neatly glued.

7. Do a "dry fitting" to make sure you know which pieces join to form the plane.

At center, you see the center body with hang holes, no echo shape, no creases.

At upper right are the two upper body halves with the upper matche portions touching.

At lower center are the two lower body halves with the lower matched portions touching.

In the finished plane, the surfaces that are shown here touching will ACTUALLY be joined to the corresponding faces of the center body shape.

8. Cut the hanging twine or string sections to a generous length. I would suggest 2 to 2.5 feet for each plane/cloud. Or otherwise to your own project's specifications.

9. Thread the twine through the center body shape's hang holes, then use small pieces of tape to hold the "between" length in place against one of the body's side faces until it is glued in place as the side bodies are attached.

10. Attach each upper body half in turn to it's corresponding face of center body, taking care to align all matching edges, and that glue is secure throughout, including edges especially. (But .)before all is dry and secure, fit brad first, see Step 12

11. Attach each lower body half in turn in a similar manner.

12. "Dry fit" the propeller brad by pushing it in between layers at center intersection. Then remove

13. Prepare (optional) propeller nose circle by pushing mini tabs to back. Join circle by aligning the horizontal pair of tabs to upper edge of side horizontal wings, centering the circle at the intersection. Also attach the center tab, if possible.

14. Thread the propeller shape onto the brad then insert through the nose circle and between layers as it was dry fit in Step 12. If desired, add glue to the straight prongs before inserting.

Don't press the brad to snugly in, if you want the propeller to spin.

15. If you are hanging the clouds above the planes as we did in our sample project, finish the attachment as shown here. The already-attached twine was tied in a double knot about 7" above the plane (measured from table top surface as the plane rested). Each separate end was then threaded through opposite entrances of the bottom cloud hang hole, passed against the center on opposite sides of the cloud, then passed back again at the top. There, the ends were tied again, eventually to be attached to the mobile structure.

Here is how the assembly looks at this point.


Many configurations are possible for your mobile. You may want it to hang and spin in the conventional way. Design and build your own mobile works, or consider searching for the "skeleton" of a re-purposed mobile at your local thrift or Good Will store.

A. Here are the basic wood parts that went in to our stand. Narrow dowel arms insert into side face holes on the axle block. Larger diameter dowel inserts into bottom hole of axle block. Candle cup (center bottom) fits over the center dowel and is attached to the routed circle base. Round ball finial fits with pin peg to top of axle block. Drilled round balls fit onto arm ends. Second pin peg assists with attachment of the axle block assembly to the top of the center dowel.

Not shown are four small wooden beads that help the twine attach securely to the arm dowels.

B. Assemble the center structure by gluing center pole inside candy cup, then centering and attaching to the base circle.

C. Insert and glue each arm dowel into it's pre-drilled slot.

D. Insert a joint pin peg into pre-drilled hole at center top and glue in place. Attach top ball finial and glue securely.

E. Attach and glue in place the drilled ball (these come pre-drilled when purchased) at each arm end.

F. Paint and finish the stand components as you desire. We used acrylic brown paint for the axle block and base, blue paint for the balls, clear varnish for the rest of the unpainted wood. We also applied a spray top coat as a final finish.

G. Tiny holes were drilled top-to-bottom of each arm approx. 1/2" in from ball  through which the twine ends were threaded (using a darning needle), then ends were inserted through the tiny unpainted wood ball beads, glued and knot-tied, taking care to achieve approximately the same length of hang.

Here is our finished mobile.

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