Making a froebel star mobile

Ever since reading this Etsy blog post about The Starcraft ages ago I’ve wanted to make a froebel (or Moravian) star mobile. The Starcraft has some beautiful rainbow ones in their shop and I wanted to recreate that (click on the link to see what I was aiming for!). My original plan was that it would be a feature in our living room, but now I think it would make a great addition to our nursery (when we move flats and have a second bedroom!).

The Starcraft Etsy shop also sells paper to make the stars from, and while they looked great it was just too expensive to buy and ship to Hong Kong. Then I saw some coloured paper strips in a craft shop here and I just had to buy them! The strips were really designed for making paper mosaics from, but they worked really well for my stars. I was worried that they would be too short as they were shorter than the strips of the same width sold by The Starcraft but they were fine. So here is my first tip: you need a minimum ratio (width:length) of 1:25 for your paper e.g. if your paper is 15mm wide then it needs to be at least 375mm long.

The Starcraft also very generously links to their instructional youtube video in their listings, so I just clicked on the link and watched the video a few times to figure out how to make the stars. Once I’d done 2 or 3 stars I didn’t need to watch the video any more, I could just make them from memory, but the first time I watched the video I thought that would never happen – it looks very complicated! By the end I could make a star in about 10 minutes. The video doesn’t have any commentary, you just watch a star being made. This is fine but there were a few things I learned as I was making my stars, so I’ll share those with you now. This won’t make any sense unless you watch the video first though!

Firstly, I made sure that all my folds were as straight as I could make them and all the folds were as flat as I could make them (I went over each crease with my nail just to make sure). When making the 3D points, I pulled them through fairly hard (without creasing the paper of the point) so that they were also nice and tight. This gave me nice, rigid stars.

The hardest bit to make neat was the 2D points. It was very difficult to make the folds so that the two halves aligned well when they were folded together. This is important because end of the strip comes out between these two halves after you have made the 3D points and once you have trimmed it, it will show if the halves aren’t very even (particularly if you are using multiple colours per star, like I did).

My tips for making the 2D points as even as possible are to try to keep your folds at as close to 45° as possible – you can tell this by aiming to have the free end of the strip parallel with the adjacent strip.

Froebel star 2D point - first fold

When making the second fold, leave a tiny amount between the first fold and the second fold at top of star point as this makes it easier to fold back on itself. Again, try to make the fold at 45° and keep the free end of the strip parallel to the one next to it.

Froebel star 2D point - second fold

Finally, when folding the two halves together, try and make sure that free end is still straight and not at an angle in order to try and get the two halves of the point as level as possible (as I failed to do in this picture!).

Froebel star 2D point

When you are bending the paper to make the first stage of a 3D point, try not to crease it too much, just bend it back on itself. Definitely do not press on the crease to make a tight fold. I felt that this wasn’t very clear from the video but this is what I did and it worked well. I also tried to make sure that when bending it back, the inner corner was as close to the body of the star as possible.

Froebel star 3D point - first stage

When pushing the free end through the star to make the 3D point, I found that the paper often caught on the folds inside the star. I found that opening the 2D point slightly with my finger really helped the paper to come out.

Froebel star 3D point - second stage

Finally, when cutting the free end of each strip off, try and get as close to the 2D point of the star as possible without cutting it (luckily I only did this on my practice star!). It’s hard to make the cut completely flush though, but I realised that often you can push it back inside the 2D point a little to reduce how much it is sticking out.

Froebel star trimming strips

And here is a finished star!

Finished froebel star

After having made my stars (I made 26!), I had to figure out how to make them into a mobile. Unfortunately the Starcraft wasn’t giving anything away on this point, so I had to figure a way of doing it myself. I had some nylon monofilament cord left over from a jewellery project so I tied the stars together with that and chopped the ends off a few wooden skewers to make the poles.

Nylon monofilament cord

Tying the stars together was really tricky. I didn’t want to put a hole in them so I tied the cord around the middle of the star and tied a knot at the top (the pictures shows a single knot but I made them all double knots).

Tying the cord round the star

I pulled the cord as tightly as I could when tying the knot so it would be tight into the star. One end of the cord pointed up, and one end hung down over the side of the star to the next star. In most cases I could make the hanging end stay flush to the side of the star by pushing it into the folds in the paper, but this didn’t always work and I couldn’t find a way of making them stay so I’m just going to have to live with that. Knotting the stars together was really fiddly work and it took me ages!

Hanging the star

I hung the stars in lines of 4 or 5 and then tied the top of each line to the skewers. It was difficult to get it balanced so that the skewers hung straight but I moved the knots along the skewers until the 3 lines hanging down were balanced. I then put PVA glue on the knots to stop them moving. I tied the skewers together with the nylon cord, balanced them and glued the knots. And the mobile was finished!

Moravian star mobile

I’m quite pleased with the results, which is good as it turned out to be a labour of love! It’s not quite as beautiful as the ones you can buy, but then that’s why hers cost so much ;)

Froebel star nursery mobile

I hope the little ones like it!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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10 thoughts on “Making a froebel star mobile

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