Make a Nature Mobile with Beci Orpin

Words by
Beci Orpin
| March 28, 2017

Most of the time, nature is just too good to mess with. But occasionally, adding a tiny splash of paint and a few polka-dot stickers can take it to a whole new level. A level that makes you want to make a mobile from your extra-prettied-up nature, hang it on the wall and admire it for a long time.

That being said, if you do choose to pretty up nature, make sure your decorations add to, but don’t overwhelm or take away from, the natural beauty of the object itself.

Image © Chris Middleton
Image © Chris Middleton

YOU WILL NEED:

  • various interesting pieces of nature: leaves, small sticks, branches, gum nuts or seed pods (these may be fresh or dried/ pressed, but dried leaves hold the paint better and last longer)
  • paper and pencil
  • paint (I used pink and white)
  • small pots or containers for the paint
  • small paintbrushes
  • small round stickers
  • embroidery thread (I used pale pink and white)
  • PVA glue
  • pins
  • natural wooden beads
  • white sewing cotton
  • ready-made round scarf hanger (or wire to make your own), or a 25 cm (10 in) length of 1 cm (½ in) wide dowel

NOTE: Nature is very original and you probably won’t be able to find exactly the same pieces of nature that I did, so this project will be impossible to replicate exactly.

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Arrange your pieces of nature on a table. Image © Chris Middleton
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Technique 1: Dip your nature into a small pot of paint. Image © Chris Middleton
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Technique 2: Leaf Painting. Image © Chris Middleton
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Technique 3: Adding stickers! Image © Chris Middleton
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Technique 4: Binding sticks together. Image © Chris Middleton
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Bind sticks together with embroidery thread. Image © Chris Middleton
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Tie string to each of your complete decorated bits of nature. Image © Chris Middleton
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Attach all the elements to wire or timber dowel. Image © Chris Middleton

The steps show a variety of techniques that you can apply to make your own interpretation of a nature mobile.

It’s also a good idea to stick to a very limited colour palette so as not to overwhelm nature’s own colours.

Arrange your pieces of nature on the table. Look at their size, shape and form, and work out roughly which pieces sit well together. You could also write a plan or sketch a few ideas of the techniques you will use on each piece.

Technique 1, Paint dip: Pour some paint into a small pot, then dip a stick or small group of seed pods halfway into the paint. Hold until the paint covers the immersed part of the object. Remove from the paint, holding the object over the pot, to allow the excess paint to drip off. Put aside to dry, making sure the painted area is not touching any surface.

Technique 2, Using a paintbrush: Use a small paintbrush to apply paint to your leaves, sticks or seed pods. Try painting a simple stripe or pattern, or paint half the leaf, leaving the other half unpainted. Choose a pattern that is sympathetic to your chosen object.

Technique 3, Adding stickers: Add small round stickers to give a random polka-dot effect.

Technique 4, Binding sticks together: Break the sticks into smaller lengths, then arrange into shapes. Use three sticks to form a triangle and four for a square or diamond.

Bind the sticks together by winding embroidery thread around them until they hold fast. Tie off the end or secure with a dab of glue applied with a pin. You could also add a wooden bead and let it hang down in the centre, or sit a bead on top (secure it in place by knotting the thread at the top).

Once all your mobile pieces are complete, attach lengths of white cotton to the top of each one by wrapping it around the object and then securing with glue. Make sure you leave ample cotton at the top, to attach the pieces to the wire or dowel.

Attach all the elements to the wire or dowel. Adjust the position and length of cotton so everything is hanging freely, then wind the cotton around the wire and secure with a knot and a dab of glue. If using dowel, add a length of embroidery thread to the top, for hanging.

This is an edited extract from Sunshine Spaces by Beci Orpin published by Hardie Grant Books RRP NZ $44.99 and is available in stores nationally.

Check out Beci’s WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

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