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Calder was encouraged to create, and from the age of eight he always had his own workshop wherever the family lived.
Soon after, he was invited to join Abstraction-Création, an influential group of artists (including Jean Arp, Mondrian, and Jean Hélion) with whom he had become friendly. Calder's parents move to a ranch in Oracle, Arizona, leaving Calder and his sister Peggy in the care of Dr. Calder befriends Riley, an elderly man recuperating at the ranch who shows him "how to make a wigwam out of burlap bags pinned together with nails." (Calder 1966, 16) Fall: The Calders move to Pasadena, California.
Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship's boiler room.
While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast).
The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life.
Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League.