Here’s a little secret I’m reluctant to share: if anyone ever wanted to give me a good Halloween fright, all it would take is a fake spider. No strategic placement needed! So this mobile, with plastic spiders cascading down from a string and hoop web, is just about the creepiest craft project I’ve ever done in my life. Although I’ve taken pains to make it as nice as possible to look at, I’ve already startled myself half a dozen times just trying to make the darn thing. It’s really a marvel that I managed to finish it at all.
(My five-month old daughter, on the other hand, can’t get enough of it.)
Creepy-crawlies aside, this is a simple project with inexpensive supplies that took me no more than two hours to complete. If you can measure and make simple knots — and if you can stand to work with artificial arachnids — then you’ve got it made.
- Wood embroidery hoop, any size (we’re only using the inner hoop)
- White string (I used crochet thread)
- Plastic spiders
- Large button or wooden bead (~3/4″)
- Hot glue or adhesive dots
- Scraps of black fabric, felt, or paper
Although this project only uses the inner hoop of an embroidery hoop, you could use the same web-making process to create a wall hanging with the outer hoop. Just glue a spider (*shudder*) right onto the web, or let it dangle on a string.
I used a wood hoop for three main reasons: (1) they’re far less expensive than plastic hoops, (2) they have greater friction than plastic, so the string will better stay in place, and (3) I prefer a more subdued, natural look. But there’s no reason why you can’t paint the hoop first, if you want some fun color (or white or black for even less color). You could also wrap it in yarn, ribbon, fabric, or washi tape.
That said, you’re also not limited to white string. If you’re feeling colorful, go colorful. I’m a big proponent of using one’s imagination.
There are many different kinds of fake spiders out there; choose whichever you like, or make your own, if you’re so inclined (I was most definitely not inclined). I used plastic spider rings and cut off the ring.
MAKE THE WEB
1. Cut four (three if your embroidery hoop is less than 6 inches) pieces of string at least 18 inches PLUS the diameter of the embroidery hoop. I used a 7-inch hoop, so I made my string 25 inches long. Stretch one string out underneath the hoop and center it as best you can (string A). Tie the string to the hoop across the hoop’s diameter, keeping the string fairly taut.
2. Take the next piece of string (string B) and center it under the first string. Tie string B to string A. NOTE: I tied B slightly off the center of A because I wanted an asymmetrical look. You can put this knot wherever you want, as it will determine the center of the web.
Tie the ends of string B to the hoop, spaced evenly between the ends of string A, keeping string B fairly taut.
3. Repeat step 2 with the remaining strings, but begin by tying each to string A in the same place you attached string B (the center of the web).
4. To make it easier to work, wrap the loose ends around the hoop and secure with small binder clips or tape. (You need these later to hang the mobile.)
5. Measure a new string by wrapping it around the diameter of the outer hoop five times. This will be used to make the cross-pieces of the web (string X).
6. Tie one end of string X to any of the existing strings close to the center knot. It may be easier to make your knot further away from the center and slide it into place.
7. Knot string X to the next adjacent string, slightly further from the center, keeping X fairly taut. Continue knotting X to each adjacent string, creating a spiral out from the center until you reach the hoop (or until you run out of string). Try not to become fixated on making the spiral perfectly even. I think the web has more of a naturally creepy look when it’s uneven.
8. To help keep the knots in place, apply a little glue to each knot on the web and the hoop.
MAKE IT MOBILE!
1. Gather together all of the loose ends of the strings attached to the hoop. Thread them through the hole of a wooden bead, or a large button in the event that you are unable to find the wooden beads you know you have somewhere. (My button had four holes, so I threaded two adjacent strings through each hole). Hold the loose ends above the bead/button, and let the mobile dangle. Use the bead/button to help you level the mobile, then tie the strings into a knot above the bead/button.
2. If you have enough string left above the knot to make a loop, braid or twist the extra and tie a knot to create a loop to use for hanging the mobile; otherwise, make a separate loop by measuring six 6-inch pieces of string, braid or twist them together, thread the braid between the mobile strings between the button and the knot, and tie the braid into a loop. Cover the knots with glue to keep them from unraveling.
3. Measure and cut enough strings to have one for each “branch” of the web (multiply the number of strings you started with by two; so if you started with 4 strings, you’ll need to cut 8 new ones). Make your first string 4 inches, and add 2 inches for each additional string: one each at 4 in., 6 in., 8 in., 10 in., 12 in., 14 in., 16 in., and 18 in. long.
4. Tie each string to the web at one of the knotted intersections, near the hoop. You can keep the strings in order by length as you go around to create a cascading spiral, or you can mix them up. You can also add as many as you want, placed wherever you want.
5. Glue plastic spiders to the strings either with hot glue or with adhesive dots. I used adhesive dots because they tend to be safer and they don’t tend to peel off of plastic easily. I cut tiny pieces of black scrap fabric to cover the adhesive/string; felt or paper would also work.
Hang someplace where the mobile can catch a draft — such as near a window, door, or vent. And try not to startle yourself every time you pass by.