Tough topic this week. Where to start? Which of the several things I know how to do shall I share with LadyKillers’ readers?
Which of what things? The more I thought about it, the less I realized I know, or at least the less I know that everyone else doesn’t already know. To test some ideas, I went to Google, where, it turns out, somebody knows how to do everything I can think of, and better than I do. Poach an egg? Write a query letter? Make cherry clafouti? Check, check, and check. Plot a mystery? Fold a fitted sheet? Ask for directions in French? There are multiple experts at every mouse click, some of them quite impressive.
In desperation, I looked around my study. Surely, something in this room would suggest a topic that wasn’t already done to death. And then, I saw it.Disclaimer: This is not my skill, this was Tim’s. But in the process of his writing two books on the subject,* giving workshops at museums and schools, making a DVD for an educational company, and chatting at Open Studios events and galleries, I heard Tim patiently answer the same question hundreds of times.
“Where do you start when you make a mobile?”
“At the bottom.”
Counter-intuitive, but that’s the trick. We’re not talking about a bunch of stuffed toys dangling from a crossbar, we’re talking about Calderesque, kinetic sculptures that move by articulation, propelled by even the gentlest currents of air. Some of his filled atriums, and others could be balanced on a desktop, but they all operated on the same principle. You make the smallest element first – perhaps two cardboard squares linked by a looped wire.
Then, you make the next small element. Then, you connect the two elements with a wire that is looped right at the spot where the two elements balance when you place it on your finger. Then, you repeat that with another set of elements and connect both sets with another, longer piece of wire…
It’s harder to explain than to do, alas. But this summer, the two grandsons who knew Grandpa Tim and I used the DVD to make – from scratch – a mobile with Tim as our teacher. (The one pictured above isn't ours - it's one of a collection of small 'stabiles' Tim made years ago.) We really got into it, and loved having Tim with us again, his gentle voice and artist’s hands guiding us through the new experience.
I have great respect for people who can explain complicated things, even more write them down without getting off into the deep grass. My hat’s off to my fellow LadyKillers for having unique skills to pass along and for doing it clearly and with relish!
* Making Creative Mobiles by Timothy Rose is still available as a new book on Amazon. His The Interactivity Kit – Exploring the Fine Art of Mobiles (2000) is a collector’s item now.