Calder-Inspired “Stabile” Sculptures

Alexan­der Calder, Amer­i­can sculp­tor and inven­tor of the mobile, also invented the “sta­bile”, a free­stand­ing sculp­ture with sim­i­lar qual­i­ties to the mobile. Since his sta­bile sculp­tures are quite large, many are installed out­doors.… so we “planted” our sta­biles in florist foam com­plete with grow­ing grass to get the full effect!


  • 4 Pipe clean­ers in assorted colors
  • 4 pieces 6″ x 4–1/2″ con­struc­tion paper in assorted colors
  • small plas­tic cup
  • florist foam
  • scis­sors
  • glue stick
  • grass seed

1. Fold each piece of con­struc­tion paper in half and cut a sin­gle shape from each one. (If you cut on the fold, it’s eas­ier to match the two sides for glu­ing, but it will work either way!)
2. Glue shapes back to back onto pipe clean­ers, sand­wich­ing the pipe cleaner between the two match­ing shapes. Use plenty of glue to make sure it sticks!
3. Bend and twist each pipe cleaner in a dif­fer­ent, inter­est­ing way. Leave about 2″ at the end straight for stick­ing into the foam.
4. Press a piece of florist foam into your cup and fill with water. (see my “Gus­tav Klimt 3D Trees” project for more details on this!) Sprin­kle grass seed on top of your foam.
5. Now, stick your pipe clean­ers into the foam and bend them as nec­es­sary to cre­ate bal­ance, both visu­ally and physically!

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4 Responses to Calder-Inspired “Stabile” Sculptures

  1. April 30, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Wow, these are great! I just love your edu­ca­tional and FUN projects. I’ll be linking.

  2. Anonymous May 1, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    I made these with my grade 3 class and linked it to our strong and sta­ble struc­tures. They loved it! Thanks!

  3. Jess June 30, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    Thanks for another great Calder Idea. We do mobiles for the art ele­ment of “Bal­ance” but this could also work for bal­ance. Thanks for the ideas!

    The ART of Edu­ca­tion

  4. Lyn May 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Hi! I just did these with my Pre-K class. We have a real Calder on the cam­pus where our nurs­ery school is located so it was per­fect. I wrote about it on my new blog. Thanks for shar­ing all of your great ideas.

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