Museum Craft Corner: DIY Museum Mobile

December 7, 2012

Crafts, Scotland

I happen to be married to a man who is not only a top class web developer, but also a very talented artist. So, instead of introducing an idea in Museum Craft Corner this month that I’ve spotted at a museum, we’ve teamed to bring you a very special DIY project for you to make at home – or perhaps even give someone for Christmas. During my recent trip to Edinburgh, which included numerous visits to my most favourite museum in the world, I took lots of reference shot photographs of some iconic museum objects. The husband (a.k.a. @thingsinjars) has since been busy transforming these into beautiful hand drawn sketches for you to download, print off, and make in to your very own National Museum of Scotland mobile. There’s a ready-to-go coloured version, or for the particularly creative among you there’s also a black and white version for you to colour in yourselves.

Here’s how to make the mobile.

You will need:

  • A couple of metal hoops. I got these from a craft store, but you can also make some out of wire coat hangers. Two hoops give you a tiered mobiled, but one hoop would also do.
  • Some clear sticky-back plastic.
  • Glue.
  • Scissors.
  • Nylon thread (you can use other thread if you can’t find any nylon, but the nice thing about nylon is that it’s “invisible”, so you mobile looks like it’s floating in the air^^).
  • A hole punch. I have a multi-sized one for craft projects, but you can use a plain old office hole punch instead too.
  • Mobile print-offs (available to download at the foot of the page). You should have six sheets in total – three different sets of objects, each with a front and back version. I used slightly thicker paper (160g/m2) as just plain copy paper (which is usually about 80g/m2) would be a bit flimsy.

Slight warning in advance – there is a LOT of cutting out involved. I sat down with this in front of a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey. The whole mobile took me about 1.5 hours to assemble.

Step 1: Cut out all your objects. There are 14 objects in total. You should end up with a front and back for each object (see above).

Step 2: Glue your front and back pieces together.

Once you’ve glued everything together, you might want to give some of the pieces a little trim around the edges if there are places where they haven’t fitted together 100%.

Step 3: Cover your cut out objects in sticky-back plastic. I cut two pieces for each that were slightly bigger than the objects themselves. Carefully stick them on each side, then press down firmly all around the outlines, effectively sealing the  objects in (see above left).

Step 4: Cute around your objects again (I told you there was a lot of cutting out), leaving a plastic border of a couple of millimetres. Then punch a hole in the top of each objects (see above right).

You can miss out the sticky-back plastic steps if you can’t find any or can’t be bothered with all the extra cutting out. I just decided that it would make them more durable. Alternatively, if you have access to a laminator, it won’t get you around the extra cutting out, but it makes sealing the objects in a lot quicker and easier.

Step 5: Prepare your hoops. If you have chosen to go for the tiered version, join the larger hoop to the smaller hoop with some nylon thread at four points, roughly as indicated by the four red lines (see above left). Cross cross two more pieces of thread across the smaller hoop – at the middle point you can then attach another piece of thread to hang your mobile up on. It will look like the picture above right once it is hung up.

If you are only using one hoop, just attach the threads to hang it up on.

Step 6: Now comes the fun part – attach your objects! Arrange them any way you like to make your own personal National Museum of Scotland mobile. I attached 6 to the smaller and 8 to the larger hoop. I found it easiest to hang the hoops up first, and then attach the objects. You can see the finished version of my mobile below.

And here are the files to download:

Sheet 1 – Pictish Stone, Astrolabe, Hunterston Brooch, Lewis Chessman, F1 Car

Coloured – Front   |   Coloured – Back   |   B&W – Front   |   B&W – Back

Sheet 2 – Carnyx, Dolly the Sheep, Egyptian Coffin, Monymusk Reliquary, Gemini Space Capsule

Coloured – Front   |   Coloured – Back   |   B&W – Front   |   B&W – Back

Sheet 3 – Tyrannosaurus rex, Ching Ching the Panda, Amethyst geode, Penny Farthing

Coloured – Front   |   Coloured – Back   |   B&W – Front   |   B&W – Back

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(Please note that this is a non-profit craft project, which has no affiliation whatsoever with National Museums Scotland or the National Museum of Scotland. Concept by Jenni Fuchs, illustrations by Simon Madine.)

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