Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Well-Balanced World (Artist: Tom Ross)

One of the people I met when I moved to San Diego is Tom Ross, who is an artist and mobile-maker.  Tom is one of those rare human beings who are just fantastic in every way - he's kind and funny and considerate and creative and just so engaged with the world.  They don't make 'em like him often enough.

As I mentioned before, Tom makes mobiles.  He takes random, common, disparate things and find ways to combine and balance them to give them new life and movement in whimsical, charming, and striking displays.  Every time I walk into his studio, I'm mesmerized by the ceiling (where his mobiles hang) as all the wonderful pieces sway, turn, and spin in marvelous balance and harmony.

Studio 30's ceiling, hung with dozens of Tom's mobiles.

For those of you who are native to San Diego, you may recognize Tom's studio as the interior of one of the Spanish Village art studios in Balboa Park.  For those of you unfamiliar with San Diego, Balboa Park is San Diego's version of NYC's Central Park, housing the San Diego Zoo, a number of museums, including the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Air and Space Museum, to name a few, and performing arts spaces like the Old Globe Theater.  It also is home to the Spanish Village Art Center.  Tom shares his studio space with two other artists, which works out well, because despite the teeny square footage, he really only needs the ceiling, to display his work.  ^_^  

Here are a few of the mobiles that jumped out at me during my visit to his studio, a week ago:

My current favorite - a matrushka (Russian nesting dolls) mobile!

This mobile was made with drawer pulls from Anthropologie (!), some coin replicas, and red beads. 

Tom is able to make mobiles out of nearly anything - in fact, when I arrived, he'd just finished working on a mobile for someone who'd brought him nine different types of bird eggs!  The eggs were all different sizes (they were brought to him clean and empty) and colors - quail eggs and turkey eggs and an ostrich egg, and other eggs I didn't recognize.  A friend of mine commissioned Tom to make her a holiday ornament mobile, and last year, Tom gifted a jack o' lantern mobile to Rowan for Halloween.  The mobiles are all pretty wonderful.

This mobile, made of chopsticks holding red glass hearts is probably my second favorite.  When I told Tom that the words "dim sum" (a type of Chinese meal, made up of small servings of many types of dumplings and other dishes - sort of like tapas) mean "small touch of heart," he was so delighted.  "I got it right!" he crowed.

Tom Ross, Artist (and one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet)

Tom's biggest concern about me photographing his mobiles and posting them on the blog was that they just don't photograph well.  He pointed out how in photos, they lack their vibrancy, movement, and three-dimensionality, which are so integral to their charm and appeal.  I tried to make up for this by getting some video of one of his mobiles, moving.  This one is made of cut glass tiles, and as you can see, has wonderful color and movement.

For more information on Tom's mobiles or to contact him to have him make one 'specially, just for you, visit him at the Spanish Village (he's usually there on Fridays), Studio 30, or email him at littletomsd@gmail.com.


  1. hi..says it is a private video and have to accept friend request?? how??


  2. Hi Barbara,

    Sorry! I've made it public, now, so it should play for you now.


  3. How interesting and fun!

    <3, natasha
    enter my Charlotte Russe giveaway!
    twenty-something blog

  4. Hi Bro Your mobiles are neat and your looking great

  5. Oh my gawd, my big bro found me on here! Tom R

  6. "...one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet" I will second that! The mobiles are amazing. Great work! I need to have you help me with Christmas, will be in touch. -Jimbo