Back to something more colorful. This one is about 24 inches across and just about 8 inches high not counting the string. Wood is painted with acrylics and latex paint. As all of the pieces are flat and parallal to the ground, it is best hung fairly close to the ceiling or in a very high space so it can be observed easily from below or hung over a stairway or similar space where it can be seen from above. In this way, the viewer can see the subtle movements among the different pieces, especially if there is some air circulation. The following views are from below, above, and side.
Just put this one together a couple of days ago. It is about two feet long, but less than eight inches from top to bottom, leaving out the length of the chain. The largest wood triangles are about four inches long/wide. So, even though it has some large pieces, this mobile can fit into a relatively small space with low ceilings. It throws some interesting shadows too.
I have found it very difficult to photograph mobiles. In part, this is because they are three-dimensional, but an even bigger reason is that the way they take up space in those three dimensions constantly changes. There is no way to capture that in a single photo. Finally, there is the obvious fact that mobiles are mobile: they move. That character is completely lost with a single photo. I have a book that has photos of dozens if not hundreds of Calder’s mobiles and, as beautiful as the book is, it hardly does them justice.
So, going forward, I will be experimenting with short videos of my mobiles to see how that works as a presentation medium. And, if and when I have time, I will try to get down to the National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn museum in DC to shoot some of Calder’s mobiles as well.
I hope you enjoy this first attempt and please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.
Schmitt Design is the mobile and furnishing company of Brian Schmitt. Brian started his company making mobiles primarily, but has since branched out into other products related to home furnishing, including lamps and furniture. His mobiles, which are beautifully crafted out of bamboo, are designed to move gracefully through the air with the individual pieces moving entirely independently (or almost) of each other. This is something that is different from many mobile designs which tend to sculpt a basic shape in space within which there is some freedom of movement. But, as I see it, in Brian’s bamboo mobiles, the overall shape is less defined, but you get a nearly infinite set of relationships among the individual pieces as each is free to rotate 360 degrees in space while the piece above, below or across from it is also moving through 360 degrees. One could view these mobiles from underneath and, assuming there was some air movement in the room, see an endless variety of constantly changing patterns.
This character, or perhaps we can call it behavior, is what attracted me to making mobiles in the first place. Though I love Alexander Calder and find his work inspirational, most of his mobile creations are built so that the individual pieces flexibly move together, not independently of each other. Here, on the left, for example is a simple mobile I did a few days ago to test some ideas.
Each of the pieces can rotate mostly independent from the other pieces, although in this case, since they are all joined by the same nylon line, the movements affect each other; another effect I find engaging.
For more on Brian and Schmitt Design, take a look at this video:
In terms of size, this is my most ambitious project to date. The three large triangular pieces are about 6-8 inches in diameter and altogether, it is between four and five feet wide. It’s also fairly heavy–perhaps ten pounds give or take–so I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t pull the hook off of the ceiling, which is only held by adhesive. It may come crashing down some day, but hopefully I will be able to find a home for it before that happens. The paint is acrylic.
This mobile is made out of wood dowels and disks painted with acrylics. The disks are 2-4 inches in diameter; width is around 18 inches; and height is perhaps 30 inches.
It has a very different look from the previous one posted and is quite different from most mobiles one sees. Does it work? That is a subjective question, of course. What I like about it are the bright, contrasty colors, all of which stand out against the black bars that form the backbone of the piece. In addition, all of the bars and their attached disks can rotate freely in a full 360 degree circle. This tends not to be the case among most mobiles, because one bar or layer is joined to the next with a metal link or direct attachment that restricts rotation to around 90 degrees–sometimes a bit more–and tends to push the different layers to line up one on top of the other.
This mobile, on the other hand, joins one layer to the next with nylon line, which allows for complete freedom of motion with respect to the bar and disk above and below. The effect, then, if there is air circulation in the room, is to see all layers (bar plus colored disk) rotating separately, creating a constantly changing pattern and an infinite set of geometric relationships.