The first mobile in the series is the Munari and I think it's also my favourite. It's simplicity and design really appeal to me and the fact that babies seem to love it made me sure that I wanted one for Henry (2 weeks).
Maria Montessori stressed the importance of early introduction of sensorial activities and she explained that the use of mobiles provides newborns with a great opportunity to exercise their mind. She said that: “Mobiles are an aid to the visual sense. Babies of only 2-3 days have been observed in concentration of 20-25 minutes watching the black and white images of the Munari mobile.”
I have found these mobiles for sale as kits on Etsy in the US but when you factor in international shipping to Europe they are just too pricey. So I decided to make my own based on the instructions that I found online at L'Atelier Montessori (a French blog). There are three documents that will help you to make the mobile:
- A diagram of the constructed mobile. This PDF shows you how to assemble the individual components to get the balance correct.
- A calculation sheet showing the size relationships between each piece. The calculation sheet is necessary because all of the dimensions of the mobile are based on the diameter of the glass (or plastic) sphere that you use.
- An interactive spreadsheet to help you to calculate all of the dimensions. This is very useful if you have a sphere that is not the same size as the example given.
So here is how I made mine:
First of all I bought my clear sphere. I wasn't exactly sure whether or not I wanted to use glass for the sphere so I decided to try this mobile with a glass and then a plastic sphere and decide which I preferred afterwards.
The advantage of a glass sphere is that they are visually more appealing and catch the light much better than plastic although they are of course more expensive and potentially more scary to have hanging above a baby (although in reality the mobile is never hung directly over the baby). The advantage of the plastic sphere is therefore price and 'safety'.
I found a very lightweight 80mm glass sphere at Xmas Direct (a UK based company) which cost £10.49 for 6 and a nice 70mm plastic sphere from Buttinette (in France) which cost €3,95 for 6. I decided to base my dimensions on the size of the plastic sphere (70mm).
The next step is to create each of the pieces. Some people just print them directly onto paper or card, some people paint onto card or use sticky backed plastic and I have also seen a rather nice looking mobile using balsa wood from Woodworks Craft Supplies. I decided to use black and white coloured card stock and then laminate each piece together.
The black and white circle
I drew an 82mm circle onto the black and white card using tin of Golden Syrup which just happened to be the right size! The lid for the tin is pretty much the right size for the internal circle (72mm) which is then drawn onto the cut larger circle. If you don't have a tin handy i.e. everyone outside of the UK you can try to find a glass or cup with approximately the correct dimensions and use that or use a compass if you want guaranteed accuracy.
The square based trapezoid
Next I drew an 82mm x 82mm square onto the wood then divided it in two and marked the centre point. From this point follow along the drawn line 35mm in each direction from the centre to give a combined length of 70mm.
Use the ends of this line to draw a line to each of the 4 corners of the square resulting in the trapezoid shape which is then cut out and sanded as before.
Once again pieces were cut from card and stuck together.
The rectangular based trapezoid
For this piece draw out a rectangle 164mm x 82mm. The draw a line dividing the rectangle in half length ways. Use the end point of this centre line to draw lines out to each opposite corner as shown in the pictures below.
The wooden dowels
There are three wooden dowels needed to hang the pieces of the mobile. The longest is painted white, the middle sized is painted black and the shortest is white with a black stripe. My dowels were 6mm diameter (18" long) and came from Woodworks Craft Supplies.
wooden dowel toy handy just use that!.
If you find it too difficult to do the striped line you can just paint the dowel white and wind around a piece of black electrical insulation tape.
Putting everything together
The next step is to assemble everything. For each of the 3 shapes I used a needle and invisible thread (available at most craft stores) to hang each piece. To secure to the dowel I wrapped the thread around a few times (after being sure of the length required) and secured with a knot.
Starting from the bottom to the top, hang objects according to the pattern. (bottom line of the sphere on level with the top of the circle etc.
I then used a hot glue gun to put a blob of glue over the thread to stop it from moving but only when I had added all of the pieces.
Getting everything level and balanced is probably the most tricky part of assembling the mobile but just remember to balance it from the bottom up and not the other way round.
That's it! I'm really pleased with the results but more importantly Henry seems to like it..........
He will watch the mobile with wide eyes for 10 minutes if you catch him at the right time of day and he has even let out a little squeel whilst studying the ball.
Next up the Octahedron mobile......