The Creative Process Behind The Giant Red Spiral Mobile

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In early December I was commissioned to make a giant 6 foot tall spiral mobile to be hung at the top of someone’s staircase.  It would be double the size of a golden spiral mobile I had made the previous year.  It would be in metallics and reds, and the paper cranes would be folded from Fadeless Paper, as the mobile was going to hang near some large windows.

The new mobile would be the largest mobile I had made to date.  This was going to be a very exciting project, and I decided to document the entire process from conception to reality on my Instagram account using posts and stories.  I got lots of great feedback from people, and it was a really neat experience.  

The customer wanted the mobile to be ready for early January.  I had been cutting and folding paper for this mobile leading up to Christmas, but I had only folded 1/4 of the 260 cranes I need.  Once the Christmas craziness had passed I was able to focus on this giant mobile.  After folding about 3/4 of the cranes I began assembly. 

Inspiration and Concept Art

Despite knowing the colors I would use, I was struggling with how I would use them.  Where would I have the greatest concentrations of the reds vs the silver?  Would I just mix all the colors randomly?  I contacted the customer again to inquire about her inspiration for the colors, and she sent me a picture of the art on her wall and the rug on the floor that inspired her.  This allowed me to conceptualize what I wanted to do with the colors.  During lunch on my kids’ second consecutive snow day in a row, I decided to pass the time by putting what I had in mind down on paper.  My concept art for the giant mobile was a quick crayon sketch, and I finally had a clear idea of what I was going to make.  

The biggest hurdle for me when working on this style of mobile is making and getting the wire frame up.  Once that was over, I got to the fun part – creating the cascade of paper cranes.  When I finally started putting this huge mobile together, I realized I was going to need more cranes after only 10 strings were up.  

Giant Origami Mobile Assembly

When adding cranes to each string I almost feel like I’m sewing by hand.  I have to watch out that I don’t get a bead that’s too small between cranes, because then I have to remove the needle, thread the bead by hand, and then rethread the needle before proceeding.  Each string had 5 paper cranes – with the larger cranes on the top and the smaller ones towards the bottom.  When I began the mobile I had more cranes on one side of the mobile, so it looked rather empty and lopsided. 

After every 10 strings went up I stopped to fold more cranes.  I ordered more paper through Amazon Prime (2 day shipping ) as I didn’t have enough with which to fold all the cranes needed to complete the mobile.  With time the mobile started filling in and taking up more and more space – pretty soon no one was be able to get around it without bumping it.

After about the third day of assembly, the mobile was really starting to take shape.  I had reached a little below the midpoint of the mobile where I was transitioning back to reds, pink, and maroon.  There were 152 cranes hanging up already, but still plenty more to go.  While waiting for the additional paper to arrive, I finished folding what I had.  I also bought more mini binder clips to hold the strings in place before I finalized each line’s position.

Once the paper arrived I had to do lots of cutting and more folding.  I got a 100 sheet pack of Fadeless Paper by Pacon that comes with 25 different colors.  Each sheet is 12″ x 18″ in size so I had to cut the sheets into much smaller squares to suit my needs.  Fadeless Paper also comes in 2 and 4 foot long rolls, but the logistics of cutting a straight 2 or 4 foot line keeps me from purchasing the rolls.  A lot of times this paper is used for covering bulletin boards in schools.  I like how it’s thin so it’s easy to fold, and since it comes in such large sizes it doesn’t limit the size of my origami projects.  

On one of my assembly days my kids had MLK day off from school and I didn’t expect to get much done with the two of them at home, but I was pleasantly surprised by them.  They both played independently and didn’t argue at all, and I was able to get a lot done!  I was able to fold enough cranes to continue assembly, so I had strings of cranes almost to the very bottom of the spiral.  

Finishing up the Custom Mobile

The 7th day of assembly was a day of finalizing everything.  I stayed up late tying all the strings into their permanent locations, trimming  loose ends, glueing all the knots and beads in place, and waited for everything to dry overnight.  I wasn’t able to take any good photos that day due to the fact that it was dark by 4:30 pm and I was still finishing up the mobile.  So the photos had to wait until the next day.

In the end the mobile had 309 cranes – that was 49 more cranes than I had originally estimated, adding an additional 6 hours to the project in the form of cutting and folding.  I’m so excited that this enormous spiral mobile is finally done and on its way to its new home – it turned out amazing and I hope the customer is as thrilled with the final product as I am. 


If you are interested in ordering a mobile like this one, CLICK HERE  

Watch a video of the mobile in action: 



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