It’s that time of year again. Summertime! Which, if you’re an expecting mother like I am makes you think of all things crib-related to prepare for the upcoming little arrival. Or, summertime just makes everything feel lighter and brighter and fresher. Which makes this DIY mobile a perfect project for a summer afternoon. The end result of this simple project is perfectly versatile. It can be a nursery mobile, an Easter accent, or even a summertime party decoration. Whatever your needs, you’ll want to check out this project!
DIY Level: Beginner
- Cotton string in color(s) of your choice
- School glue
- Eight (8) small balloons
- Embroidery hoop
- Fishing line (optional)
Step 1: Blow up balloons. Decide the shape of your mobile components – do you want them round like a ball or oblong like an egg or raindrop? Then blow up eight balloons of varying sizes but in similar shapes.
TIP: To create a round, spherical balloon shape (rather than an oblong one), don’t blow the balloon up very far and force the air further down into the balloon by tying off a long “stem.” This forces the balloon shape into a sphere.
You can even change the shape of an already tied balloon (if you’re not happy with it) by creating a longer stem and tying it off again.
Hemp String Process
Step 2: Start the hemp string process by wrapping string around balloon. Hold down the end of your string with one finger as you begin to wrap the string around the balloon itself. Wrap over the free end several times to secure it before letting go.
When you can let go of the end, rotate the balloon in your hand as you wrap so as to evenly distribute the string all around it. Keep enough space by the balloon knot to allow you to pull the balloon out (later on), but don’t make it a gaping hole.
TIP: To avoid unbalanced, gaping holes, rotate the balloon not only around sideways in your hand, but also vertically. Continue rotating and stringing the balloon until you’re satisfied with the wrapping.
Step 3: Glue the string end. Cut your string with the end near the balloon knot. Dab a little of your school glue on nearby strings and secure the end of your string to keep in in place. Your string should be snug to keep its shape but not tight to squeeze the balloon out.
Step 4: Create gluing material. Pour a bottle of school glue into a container. Fill the now-empty glue bottle with water, and add that into the container as well.
Stir the 1:1 glue-to-water ratio until you have a smooth consistency.
You’ll want it to be a bit (or a lot) runny, then channel your inner 3rd grade paper mache artiste!
Step 5: Apply the watery glue. Using a soft paintbrush, gently apply the glue onto your string ball so that each string is wet to soaking. You could even roll the ball in the glue mixture itself to make sure the inside strings get wet enough.
TIP: Don’t be afraid of really dousing the strings. This is what will give the string ball its independent shape. The glue dries clear, and even where it looks like it will form a “window” between the strings (which is not desirable), don’t worry. The glue won’t stick when the balloon is pulled out later on.
Step 6: Repeat for all string balls, then let dry. You’ll want the string to be fully and absolutely dry before you mess with them – at least 24 hours, maybe more.
TIP: Lay the gluey string balloons on wax paper in a safe place, then rotate every hour or so for the first few hours. This will help the gluey mixture to disperse more evenly as it begins to dry.
Step 7: Prepare the mobile hanger. Pull out the inner circle of a medium to large embroidery hoop (example shows an 8” hoop). You have a few different options for this, including painting the wooden embroidery hoop or leaving it natural. For a softer feel, we love the look of wrapped string.
To do this easily, cut about a 4-foot length of your first string color (A) and tie it securely to the hoop. Begin wrapping tightly, keeping the wrapped strings close together without gaps. Stop wrapping when you have about 8”-10” of string left.
Cut the same 4-foot(ish) length of your second string color (B). Place the end of B inside the hoop right next to where you left off wrapping A.
Continue wrapping A, over top of B, until it’s almost at the end.
When about 1/2″ of A is left, hold it snugly in the “territory” of B, and now begin wrapping B over top of A.
See how that transition is nice and seamless? It sounds a little complicated, but once you do it the first time, it gets easier. TIP: Securing the string ends this way minimizes the number of knots needed and creates a smoother wrap all the way around.
When you finish wrapping the entire hoop, tie off the end snugly in a square knot. Trim the extra string.
TIP: For good measure, add a dab of glue to the knot. This not only secures the knot better, but it also helps to contain the stub of string that you’ve just trimmed, which sticks out otherwise.
Step 8: When string is thoroughly dry, remove balloons. When string is dry, snip a hole in the balloon, being careful not to cut your string. TIP: It is critical that the strings be completely dry before attempting to remove the balloons. (Example took 24 hours for completely drying time.) If you try to remove the balloon while the string is even still damp, the exhaling balloon will pull the damp strings out of shape, and you will probably have to start all over.
Wait until balloon has exhaled…
…then carefully pull it out of the ball.
You’re left with a beautiful ball of string!
TIP: Avoid accidentally cutting off the entire balloon knot, or you’ll have to go “fishing” for the rest of the balloon inside the ball. Which isn’t as easy as it might seem, especially if your holes are small.
Step 9: Tie fishing line to hang mobile. You can opt to use extra string if you want; this example shows fishing line. Tie fishing line to three equidistant points on the mobile, using square knots.
Knot the three fishing lines together, making sure each line is the same length so that the mobile will hang “flat” and evenly.
Step 10: Attach string balls to mobile hanger. Using a square knot, attach the fishing line to the string ball.
TIP: Tie the fishing knot near the spot on your string ball where the balloon knot was, as this space typically has the largest gap in the string.
Determine how far down you want that particular string ball to hang from your mobile hanger, then tie off the other end of the fishing line accordingly. Repeat this for other string balls as you work your way around the mobile.
Step 11: Hang up the mobile and enjoy.
Don’t you just love the simple, visual pop that this sweet mobile provides?
We hope you enjoy making your own customized version of this DIY mobile!