Thumbs Up to natural mobiles

We had a great time recently at a mobile-making workshop. We created art from the garden, for the garden.

You can follow our lead. Gather a pine branch, some seed pods or cones, a few bits of colorful cotton cloth, wool yarn, hemp cord and some sticky modeling clay or glue. The steps and the results are illustrated below.

We cut a white pine branch to harvest the whorl of branches, circled. If pine allergy is an issue use a branch from a hedge of privet, burning bush, or dwarf lilacs -- something that's been cut in the past and has branched out from the cut.

We cut a white pine branch to harvest the whorl of branches, circled. If pine allergy is an issue use a branch from a hedge of privet, burning bush, or dwarf lilacs -- something that's been cut in the past and has branched out from the cut.

We held each cut tip in a flame to burn off the sap, then screwed a cup hook into the butt end of the branch so we can hang it when we're done.

We held each cut tip in a flame to burn off the sap, then screwed a cup hook into the butt end of the branch so we can hang it when we're done.

Collect interesting things from the garden that can dangle from the branch tips -- seed pods, twigs, dry leaves. feathers. We augmented our collection with balsa wood stars, dyed feathers...

Collect interesting things from the garden that can dangle from the branch tips -- seed pods, twigs, dry leaves. feathers. We augmented our collection with balsa wood stars, dyed feathers...

...and other bright biodegradable bits such as cotton cloth, wool yarn, stiff colored paper and hemp twine.

...and other bright biodegradable bits such as cotton cloth, wool yarn, stiff colored paper and hemp twine.

Although much of the fun was in the collecting, those who attended our workshop would miss that part. So we loaded a long table with our finds so they could enjoy the hunt

Although much of the fun was in the collecting, those who attended our workshop would miss that part. So we loaded a long table with our finds so they could enjoy the hunt

Each mobile-maker loaded a paper plate with his or her selections. Gardeners attended, providing plant names and quick stories: "That's the dried flowers and seed pods from a hydrangea bush."

Each mobile-maker loaded a paper plate with his or her selections. Gardeners attended, providing plant names and quick stories: "That's the dried flowers and seed pods from a hydrangea bush."

Sometimes the gardener's tale swayed a selection, "Those spicebush leaves smell nice if you rub them, and they rustle nicely when the wind moves them."

Sometimes the gardener's tale swayed a selection, "Those spicebush leaves smell nice if you rub them, and they rustle nicely when the wind moves them."

Want to load up a plate then come back for more? Sure! The garden provided plenty of material.

Want to load up a plate then come back for more? Sure! The garden provided plenty of material.

Then, natural creativity reigned. This pine cone has modeling clay eyes and mouth, and a head crowned with pussy willow branch tips.

Then, natural creativity reigned. This pine cone has modeling clay eyes and mouth, and a head crowned with pussy willow branch tips.

Long strips of cloth wrapped on a branch transformed Kaylee's mobile frame. On one side twig, she's hung a wooden disk -- a slice of a branch with a hole drilled in it. She was pleased with her discovery that a dab of modeling clay on the twig made a stopper to keep it from slipping off.

Long strips of cloth wrapped on a branch transformed Kaylee's mobile frame. On one side twig, she's hung a wooden disk -- a slice of a branch with a hole drilled in it. She was pleased with her discovery that a dab of modeling clay on the twig made a stopper to keep it from slipping off.

Morgan's tying colorful yarn along each arm of the mobile.

Morgan's tying colorful yarn along each arm of the mobile.

Some artists borrowed ideas from others and built on them. Megan's observed Morgan's yarn tying and is now dashing off to try it on her own frame.

Some artists borrowed ideas from others and built on them. Megan's observed Morgan's yarn tying and is now dashing off to try it on her own frame.

Others worked as teams, talking strategy before assembling their creations, and considered each addition. "Does the paper spiral have room to twist in the wind?"

Others worked as teams, talking strategy before assembling their creations, and considered each addition. "Does the paper spiral have room to twist in the wind?"

The conversations at the construction sites were lively, and frequently surprising. "This one feels nicer." "That's a nest and this is a bird." It was especially fun to hear youngsters trying out names from nature, "That's a red doggywood..." "No, no, not the spruce cone. I like the little bitty hemlock cones..."

The conversations at the construction sites were lively, and frequently surprising. "This one feels nicer." "That's a nest and this is a bird." It was especially fun to hear youngsters trying out names from nature, "That's a red doggywood..." "No, no, not the spruce cone. I like the little bitty hemlock cones..."

Steven pointed across the room before snapping this photo, asking Janet, "Who's having more fun, the little kids or the big ones?"

Steven pointed across the room before snapping this photo, asking Janet, "Who's having more fun, the little kids or the big ones?"

Every mobile was unique, from frame to tip. These two hung as examples at the material selection table, helping the artists visualize.

Every mobile was unique, from frame to tip. These two hung as examples at the material selection table, helping the artists visualize.

We gave mobile makers several choices of string. Waxed cord was most simple to use -- for young fingers and old.

We gave mobile makers several choices of string. Waxed cord was most simple to use -- for young fingers and old.

Megan's mobile features stars, cones and a Kentucky coffee tree pod tied on with blue yard, and matching blue feathers anchored with bits of red clay

Megan's mobile features stars, cones and a Kentucky coffee tree pod tied on with blue yard, and matching blue feathers anchored with bits of red clay

Every mobile maker was pleased with his creation.

Every mobile maker was pleased with his creation.

Some of the artists didn't realize in the beginning that mobiles will move once they're hung. Janet plays the part of the wind to demonstrate this effect for Morgan.

Some of the artists didn't realize in the beginning that mobiles will move once they're hung. Janet plays the part of the wind to demonstrate this effect for Morgan.

While the kids crafted, gardeners did what comes naturally -- they grew the idea. Phyllis and Janet hang several mobile frames from a single straight branch, sliding them back and forth...

While the kids crafted, gardeners did what comes naturally -- they grew the idea. Phyllis and Janet hang several mobile frames from a single straight branch, sliding them back and forth...

Engineer Steve adds technical expertise to the effort.

Engineer Steve adds technical expertise to the effort.

Each child was commissioned to create one more ornament for the group mobile. Inadvertent genius, this meant our group mobile received the best creations built with the most practiced techniques.

Each child was commissioned to create one more ornament for the group mobile. Inadvertent genius, this meant our group mobile received the best creations built with the most practiced techniques.

Many of the big kids contributed, too. You can see we had to twist their arms...

Many of the big kids contributed, too. You can see we had to twist their arms...

Done!

Done!

Janet hangs the group's mobile in the Children's Sensory Garden, with ladder support from Waterford Library Director Joan Rogers.

Janet hangs the group's mobile in the Children's Sensory Garden, with ladder support from Waterford Library Director Joan Rogers.

We tied a fishing line device known as a barrel swivel between each branch and its supporting line. That helps the mobile spin freely even in a light breeze.

We tied a fishing line device known as a barrel swivel between each branch and its supporting line. That helps the mobile spin freely even in a light breeze.