How to Make a Mobile with Your Favorite Photos
Learn to Make a Fun, Moving 3-D Display for Your Favorite Photos
Do you have some photos that are so cute you'd really like to have them on display all the time? Have you run out of space for pictures on your desk or walls? Do you need a fun new way to display some of your favorite photographs? This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to turn your treasured photos into an interesting and attractive mobile display that's sure to be a conversation starter.
You can use these instructions to help you to make a very personalized gift for just about anyone or for your own use.
Kitty on a Cloud, Anyone?
Required Materials, Tools, and Supplies
- Digital versions of at least five favorite photos
- Photo editing software
- A printer
- Photo paper
- Two pieces of 8.5” by 11” card-stock or heavy construction paper
- Five 16” lengths of craft thread or embroidery floss
- Craft Glue
- Four paperclips
- Mobile topper template, as seen below
Select five to thirteen of your favorite photographs in digital format or scan five to thirteen of your favorite photos into a digital format. It is best to select photos with clearly defined objects or people in them.
Crop Photos to Save Photo Paper and Ink
Step One: Crop Your Photos
Use your photo editing software to crop closely around the parts of the photos you will want to cut out. In this example I’ve cropped closely around Rupert, the handsome ginger tabby in the photo.
Resize the Images
Step Two: Adjust the Size of the Images to Three Inches in Height
Next, edit the tightly cropped images to give them all a three inch height. Save each image with a name followed by the words “Side One” to identify the photos from this step. For example, I’ve named the image above Rupert Side One.
Create Mirror Images After Resizing the Photos
Step Three: Create Copies of Each of the Images and Flip Them Horizontally
Create copies of each of the photos you’ve cropped and resized. Use your photo editing software to horizontally flip each previously cropped and resized photograph and save the image with a name followed by the words “Side Two” to identify the photos from this step.
Print off a side one and a side two of each photo you wish to use. Print multiples including a side one and side two for each if you’d like to make more than one use of the same photograph on the mobile. You will need twelve three inch high side one images and twelve three inch high side two images.
Resize the Featured Image for the Top
Step Four: Re-Size the Image You Want to Feature on Top
Choose the image you’d like to use as your featured image. The featured image is the larger, cut-out image that will be used on the top of your photo mobile. Cut-out featured images will give the best impact so mostly horizontal images of people, things, or animals with distinct shapes work best for the featured image.
Closely crop your featured image and resize it so it is no taller than 4” and no wider than 8.5” and save it as “Featured Image Side One.” Then, horizontally flip your cropped and resized feature image and save it as “Featured Image Side Two.” You will only need to print out one of each side of your featured image.
Photo Mobile Hanger Template
Step Five: Print Them All and Cut Out Some Card Stock Ovals
Print out all of the small images and the featured images and their mirror images as well as four of the photo mobile hanger template or any other oval-cut 10.5” by 3.8” photograph.
Cut four ovals out of the card-stock the same size as the photo mobile hanger templates. I use the templates to serve as a guide for my scissors when I cut the card-stock.
Cut Out Images
Step Six: Cut Everything Out
Cut out the parts of each photo you want to use. Sometimes that will be the whole image, other times you may wish to cut out just part of the image such as I’ve chosen to do with the image of the cat in a box on both side one and on side two of the image above.
Side one and side two of each photo should be able to line up perfectly when placed back to back.
Glue Craft Paper Ovals to Photo Mobile Hanger Ovals
Step Seven: Glue the Decorative Template Image to the Card Stock Ovals
To begin assembling the photo mobile, glue the four card-stock ovals to the backs of the four photo mobile hanger templates with very thinly spread craft glue. Set these aside and allow them to dry.
You can prevent wrinkling and bubbling of the photo images by laying a book or other flat, smooth object atop them during the drying process.
The Assembly Process Begins
Step Eight: Attach the Hanging Threads and Glue the Front Photos and Paperclips On
Cut along the black line on each of the four mobile hanger pieces, cutting away the black line and discarding it.
Lay one of the four hanger pieces face down with the slit facing toward you.
Fold one 16” length of craft thread into a loop. Tie the ends of the loop together and glue the 16” loop to the back of the photo mobile hanger piece, opposite the slit. This forms the hanging loop.
Next, glue one 16” length of craft thread on each side of the back of hanger piece 1.5” from the edge of each side of the hanger piece.
Select six side one images to hang from the two threads. Space the photos evenly along the length of the thread, three to a thread. Glue the thread to the back of each photo.
Glue a paper clip to the bottom photo on each thread.
Allow the glue to dry briefly to make it easier to work with in the next step.
Sandwiching and Gluing
Step Nine: Glue the Reversed Images to the Backs of the Matching Photos
Glue the cut-out side two images to the backs of the cut-out side one images with a very thin layer of craft glue, sandwiching the thread between them. Repeat this process with all six images attached to this hanger piece and with the hanger piece itself.
Be sure to line up the slits on the hanger pieces and to allow the craft thread loop to stick out the top. Weight down the photos with a book or other flat surface and allow the glue to dry.
Preparing the Frame
Step Ten: Almost the Same as Nine but Put the Slit on Top
Repeat the process using the other two card-stock reinforced hanger pieces. Only this time, the slit in the hanger piece should be on the top and no hanging loop is needed. When this step is completed, weigh down the photos with a book to keep them flat and allow this hanger piece and its attached photos some time to dry.
Adding the Featured Image
Step Eleven: Glue the Large Featured Images to the Front and Back of One Oval Hanger Piece
Glue your cutout featured image to the hanger piece with the hanging loop on top, sandwiching the top of the hanger piece between sides one and two of your featured image. Set this piece aside to dry for at least half an hour before finishing the assembly process.
The Final Touches
Step Twelve: Final Assembly
Dab a thin line of craft glue on the inside of the slits on both completed hanger pieces. Mate up and slide together the slits with the two hanger pieces perpendicular to each other. The hanger piece with the featured image and the hanging loop should be on top and the two pieces should form a cross when viewed from the top. Allow the glue to dry overnight and then hang and enjoy your photo mobile!
© 2014 Kylyssa Shay