Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Mobile Art, by Clare Youngs. Book Review.

Mobile Art

Make your home a magical place with these 35 beautiful hanging decorations

By Clare Youngs

Cico Books 2015

Paperback £12.99

ISBN 978 1 78249 209 2

Star rating: ****

Making mobiles is a fun craft idea for the spring and summer, when a breeze through an open window can make your project dance.

Talented and prolific craft author Clare Youngs is back with a winning new title bursting with creative energy. The subject this time is mobiles. Mobiles are purely decorative – so they present a great opportunity to let the imagination run wild, and that is precisely what the author has done with her playful and inventive collection of action projects. 

Photographing mobiles can be tricky for a couple of obvious reasons. First up, the object you are photographing just won’t stay still. Secondly, a still photo can’t convey the kinetic motion of the mobile. So – it is an amazing feat on the behalf of the author and the production team that nearly every project in the book seems to be dancing on the page, and is begging to be made. Many would be suitable for kiddie decor.

The mobiles, most of which are easy-make, are made of a variety of materials – with an emphasis on papercrafting. Papercraft projects include Party-Time Sparkle, which is a papery interpretation of those wooden wind spirals you see in garden centres. The idea works a treat in mirror card. The Sausage Dogs mobile is big fun - the tube-like dachshunds are cleverly fashioned from paper, with paper “bones” to weight them like a kite’s tail. Floral Filigree is a jumbo quilling-inspired mobile. Very effective. There is also a traditionally-quilled snowflake mobile. Birds are an obvious choice for mobiles  and  Clare Young’s features two takes on the idea. Birds in Flight consists of jazzy papercrafted streamlined birds with bright graphic designs. Birds of a Feather features 3-D papercut feathers - like lacé, without the links.  Paper-Clip Graphics works a treat. This quick-make mobile channels the typographic trend, with magazine cut-outs paper-clipped onto the hanging wires. Balancing Act is a genius construction of papercrafted acrobats performing a trapeze act.  They cleverly hook onto each other in a feat of derring-do (reminds me of that fondly-remembered monkeys in a barrel toy).

There are a very few projects that work less well than the others – Tassels and Beads, is a bit clunky. The beads are way too heavy for the delicate paper fans. This mobile is much more static than the other projects in the book.

There are a lot of pom pom enthusiasts out there – it is a craft trend you just can’t ignore –  so I will mention that the Pops of Colour mobile features pom pom cascades. Other techniques that get a look-in include macramé, fabric craft (hand-stitched elephants, Folksy Felt Horses), and Himmeli (Finnish strawcraft).

There is lots of variety not just in the projects, but in how the mobile mechanisms are constructed. Some mobiles feature objects suspended from a bar, others have a top ring; sticks crossed at top, marionette-fashion, and also cascades of carefully-balanced bars à la AlexanderCalder.

If you are fascinated by mobiles and happen to live in the vicinity of London, you will want to check out the Alexander Calder exhibition scheduled for November onwards at Tate Modern. Calder was the great grand-daddy of kinetic sculpture, and the exhibition will be an event.

While you are waiting, you can try your hand at Clare Youngs’ delightful Mobile Art.

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