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.