October 19, 2011

Behind the Scenes of a Mobile Commission

Last November, a friend commissioned me to make a custom hanging mobile for their yet-to-be-born child's room.  I was given a photo of the crib set, which was "jungle" themed (with the exception of a giraffe).  Other than that, I was given free reign.

The thing with the giraffe is that I have problems with these themed sets that like to combine animals that don't really make sense.  I'd be fine with it if they didn't say it was a jungle theme.  Giraffes live in the savannah.  But this eventually got me thinking that I had an opportunity to make the mobile both awesome to display and educational.

I was told the child was expected in May, so I had "plenty of time."  However, inspiration was slow.  Very slow.  A whole year slow.  I worked on it in spurts, creating an animal here and there with months in between as I struggled with what to make next.  I probably could have worked much faster if someone had said, "I really love X, please make me something with these items in it."  Coming up with it on my own, I just have to wait until it feels right.

So it's about 5 months late, but in the end, I am glad I waited until I had something worth sending.  I decided to stick with the jungle theme, but make sure that all animals included would be something actually found in a tropical, wooded climate.  Not all of the animals would have to be from the same jungle, just so long as they had similar habitats.  I also wanted them to be animals you'd be likely to encounter at a zoo, but not necessarily the most famous ones.  And I wanted the animals to be removable for some kind of interaction.  My thought was that they could be used in story time, or something along those lines, with the idea being that the child would get to know the names of these animals and what they looked like.  Then visits to the zoo would be more exciting, and hopefully with less mindless screaming and banging on enclosure glass...

I ended up making the three larger animals first, and they were also the most spaced out.  Hand-embroidering the tiger stripes was probably not my best idea in terms of feasibility.  The final structure came recently, when I decided to hang the bigger animals as if they were walking around the base of a tree, with smaller animals hung higher as if they were in the canopy.  This idea was what finally triggered the creative juices, and it was mostly downhill from there.  I believe the last three animals and the tree all came together in about 5 days.

Each animal is roughly to scale with the others; the elephant is a tad small, but I made it as big as my single sheet of felt would allow.  They are all made of felt, hand-sewn and embroidered.  The smaller ones have a touch of marker for shading, since the stitches were pulling through the felt once the pieces passed a certain size.  There are wires in the leaves of the three, with loops for hanging.  To keep it light, the tree trunk is made of straws that are wired together, wrapped in paper, and then covered in felt.  I've never done anything like this before, so I just sort of made it up as I went along.

Because it was so late, and we hadn't talked about it in so long, I packaged everything up and quietly sent it along for my friend's birthday.  I included a little packet that said how to put it together, as the tree is actually two pieces, and the animals can be hung from various points depending on what looks good.  The packet also gave mini-bios, with pictures of live animals, for each of the animals included.

Now that the package is safely delivered, I can share the photos with you.  Soon I should have photos of it hung in the baby's room, but for now, here are the ones I took before shipping.

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*Monica said...

so cute! well done

Lisa said...

Its the best! I'll get you some pictures soon!

dtaylormom5 said...

It is so cute and from what I hear, a big hit!! Thanks for taking all the time and effort to make something so special! =)