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How to Make a Mobile with Your Favorite Photos

Updated on July 17, 2016
Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa Shay worked as a florist for eighteen years and has created and taught an assortment of crafts to adults and children of all ages.

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?

A photo mobile I made for my best friend.  I used photos of Rupert, her marmalade tiger cat, because he's such a cute little ham.
A photo mobile I made for my best friend. I used photos of Rupert, her marmalade tiger cat, because he's such a cute little ham.

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
  • Scissors
  • 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

Rupert was curled into a cute shape here with his tummy showing so it looked like an interesting choice for the mobile.  I cropped tightly around the area I wanted to cut out.  There's no point in printing anything you're going to throw away.
Rupert was curled into a cute shape here with his tummy showing so it looked like an interesting choice for the mobile. I cropped tightly around the area I wanted to cut out. There's no point in printing anything you're going to throw away.

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

Resize the photos so the part you plan to cut out will be about three inches tall once you've printed them out.
Resize the photos so the part you plan to cut out will be about three inches tall once you've printed them out.

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

A quick horizontal flip and a name change will create a back side so there will be cute on all sides!
A quick horizontal flip and a name change will create a back side so there will be cute on all sides!

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

I thought Rupert looks like he's flying in his sleep so I thought this would make a great image to put on the top of the mobile.
I thought Rupert looks like he's flying in his sleep so I thought this would make a great image to put on the top of the mobile.

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

Print out four of these to create the air-catching frame.
Print out four of these to create the air-catching frame.

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

Cut carefully around shapes so the mirror images match up back to back.
Cut carefully around shapes so the mirror images match up back to back.

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

There's that sleepy Rupert again, resting on his cloud.
There's that sleepy Rupert again, resting on his cloud.

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

Once it's dry, it will be ready to hang.
Once it's dry, it will be ready to hang.

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!

The finished product spins easily and catches air currents.  Since it is very light-weight, it can be hung using a very light plastic hook.
The finished product spins easily and catches air currents. Since it is very light-weight, it can be hung using a very light plastic hook.

© 2014 Kylyssa Shay

What Subject Or Subjects Would You Choose For Your Favorite Photo Mobile?

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Lovely photos! A well-advised hub something I would have never thought of.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      clever idea for kitty lovers. Also suitable for dog and hamster lovers.

    • profile image

      EnthusiasmMadame 2 years ago

      This is a great idea, especially for a gift. I think I will follow your steps, which seem to be very easy, and make one of these as a Christmas present for my twin granddaughters. Thanks for the information.

    • sweetpikez profile image

      Pinky de Garcia 2 years ago

      The steps that you have provided here are systematic and the art output you made is interesting.

    • profile image

      Manasi4 2 years ago

      i am a cat lover and i went totally gaga with that photo

    • David Paul Wagner profile image

      David Paul Wagner 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Very clear instructions and the customised photos make this hub a pleasure to read. Congratulations on HOTD!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is so cute and so creative! I am sure the kids would love it and they can be even engaged in making one.

      Your instructions and pictures are very helpful and well explained. Congratulations for HOTD and thanks for the follow as well. Voted up!

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 2 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Something good for the kids to do when they are out of school during the holidays. Congrats on HUB OF THE DAY!

    • munchwaffle profile image

      munchwaffle 2 years ago from Philippines

      So cute - will be perfect for kiddie parties ;) Congratulations on HOTD!

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      Hi,

      I love this and I will share with my nephews so they can make some of their pets and children. This is a cute idea and thanks for sharing.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Cute! Good job, congrats and thanks for sharing this neat idea!

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 2 years ago

      Well written, and nicely done! What a clever idea... Hope to see more Hubpages from you.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 2 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on HOTD. This is a cute idea and another great way to use photographs.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lovely idea and a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your Hub of the Day accolade.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 2 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I would use an ocean or seaside theme

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 2 years ago

      This is a fabulous idea for a super-personalized DIY gift, Kylyssa - I'm thinking it would be a great alternative to a special occasion gift card, too, as something special to be kept and displayed and treasured instead of enjoyed for a few days then tossed in the recycling bin. Fun way to decorate a child's room on a budget, too!

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 2 years ago from USA

      That was a lot of work! Wonderful idea, and one that would be quite a welcome gift to someone who was bedridden, or in the hospital.

      Your detailed instructions are quite helpful, and should be invaluable for someone who has never made a mobile. Congratulations!

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 2 years ago

      This is a great project and wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing here today, I am going to put it on the back burner, something to do when winter arrives and we're stuck inside. I love the cat part of it all, will surely be using that theme. Thanks again, and have yourself a great day and week!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this tutorial on making a photo mobile!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 2 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Very cute craft idea for pet lovers, for gifts or themselves.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 2 years ago from Jackson, MS

      so cute! Well laid out instructions. Thanks!

    • stylishimo1 profile image

      stylishimo1 2 years ago

      Love the 3D aspect of the pics... so cool!

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 2 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I think that is a fantastic idea. It would make a lovely little gift for a birthday, anniversary or wedding.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 2 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Great idea- fantastic detail and presentation too.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 2 years ago from London

      They do say images are everything and the pic of Rupert on a cloud certainly perked up my morning!

      Great idea and very well explained.

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 2 years ago

      This will definitely attract attention when hung at home, where there is even the slightest air movement. Very neat and awesome-looking. This Hub explained the steps so well. Congrats on HotD!

    • rudra007 profile image

      Veenoo 2 years ago from India

      Very nice idea...will definitely try this. Thanks

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 2 years ago from Ireland

      What a fantastic idea. It a great thing to do with photos of your pets. :)

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      The wind chimes could be attached to the end of the hanging strings.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 2 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Love this mobile! My favorite "subject" matter....cats, of course! Great idea!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 2 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Aww this is just precious! Such a cute idea for your kitty, and one I could do for the memory of my sweet pug, who left me in March. I just never saw this before, a great idea!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      lol! that is awesome! I would never have thought of doing something like this, but I love it! voted up and shared! nell

    • robertzimmerman2 profile image

      Robert Zimmerman 2 years ago from SE Florida, USA

      If my kids were living at home I would make one or two of those. Hey, I can share it via email!

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