Introduction: "Phi" Wall Art

Picture of "Phi" Wall Art

My bedroom has a large, flat, boring wall that needed a little character. After browsing through thousands of overpriced wall décor pieces online, I decided to make my own. I knew I wanted something wood, in an abstract shape, but also something that had a little meaning behind it. What I came up with is an arrangement of wood sticks all sized and positioned by following the “Golden Ratio”

What is the “Golden Ratio”? Per Wikipedia: “In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to (=) the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887” This interesting Ratio, also referred to as “Phi”, occurs all throughout nature, music, renaissance art and architecture. It has also been said to play a role in the human perception of beauty. (For example, if the spacing of a person’s facial features mimic the golden ratio, then they appear more beautiful than those whose do not)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

6) 6’-0”x ½”square pine strips (choose the straightest pieces possible)
24) #8 x 1” wood screws
2) Picture hangers
1) Can of Stain (Red Oak)
1) Can of Stain (Golden Oak)
1) Can of Wood Conditioner

Saw (Circular saw suggested for straighter cuts)
Drill w/ countersink bit
Sander w/ 220 grit sandpaper
Tape Measure
Gloves (recommended) Note: The stain will dissolve latex gloves so use something heavier.
Wood Clamps (recommended)

Step 2: Layout & Design

Picture of Layout & Design

There are two lengths of sticks. 3’-0” and 1’-10 ¼” These lengths follow the golden ratio. The location where these sticks cross each other is also a function of the ratio and their lengths. 5 groups were created and then merged together. Where these groups intersect a “golden Rectangle” was created.

Step 3: Cut the Pieces

Picture of Cut the Pieces

You will need to cut 7) 3’-0” pieces and 6) 1’-10 ¼” pieces. (Refer to the attached plans) Piece “A” is a very prominent piece, and sticks out quite a bit, so be sure to pick your straightest piece for this one. To ensure all the pieces were the same length, and square, I cut each one a little too long. Then I clamped them together and cut the ends off using a circular saw.
NOTE:  The PDF plans are attached on to this step as well.

Step 4: Sand and Stain

Picture of Sand and Stain

Sand all the sticks thoroughly, including their ends. Next coat each in wood conditioner, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Since we are using pine, the conditioner is highly recommended. Without it, the wood will soak up the stain unevenly and it will look very splotchy. Finally, stain each stick per the attached plans. ( 4 long light colored, 2 short light colored, 3 long dark colored, 4 short dark colored.)

Step 5: Mark and Drill

Picture of Mark and Drill

All of the holes will be drilled from the back face. So pick the face on each stick you want to be visible and turn them over. Mark the holes for each stick with a pencil following the attached plans. You must take care to be as accurate as possible on this step. If any of the holes are off, it will show up in the final product. Take your time and it will be worth it in the long run. Remember the holes for Lettered sticks do NOT pass all the way through, and the holes for Numbered sticks must be countersunk.

Step 6: Arrange and Attach

Picture of Arrange and Attach

Place a screw in each of the Numbered sticks and run through so just the tip protrudes from the other side. Using the “reverse plan” as a guide lay each stick face down, starting with the Lettered sticks. The tips of the screws on the Numbered sticks should line up with the holes on the Lettered sticks. After all of the sticks are arranged, drive all the screws in, adjusting for squareness as your proceed. (Note: the entire piece can be shifted in and out of squareness once complete)
Carefully attach the picture hangers at the intersectiion of A/1 & F/2 and you are complete!


JANSENG2 (author)2016-02-14

wow, stunning...

mattdub1 (author)2015-12-31

Making it now, thanks for the plans!

Anybodysguess (author)2014-08-01

Thanks it looks great! I'm redesigning my room with a more modern look and this goes so well. I scaled it down but even then it turned out bigger than I imagined, so there were only 2 places I could hang it in my room.

toyia (author)2014-02-11

We made it :) was easy and a great project, looks good too! Hanging over the fireplace.

nerd7473 (author)2013-05-17

I should have said pronounces it wierd lol

nerd7473 (author)2013-05-17

cool I like the golden ratio my teacher says it wierd though and he said that he didnt know it had a number to the symbol

aalmeida4 (author)2013-03-26


sheebok (author)2012-11-30

great concept, thanks for sharing

PreKrime (author)2011-02-10

Man if you had a Phi caliper you could go to town on these! Heck I wish there was an Instructable on how to make a Phi Caliper! :)

buzhik (author)2010-12-23

Could you please add measurements to the Step 2 where you have an image of 5 groups? Your instructions have an overall length and number of stick. I just need to know at what point they cross in each of the 5 elements. For red, green and blue scheme I just need to know 1 measurement - the cross point on the longer stick. Thank you!!... Off to Home Depot to pick up materials :)

kaptaink_cg (author)buzhik2010-12-23

There are some screenshots and a PDF you can download in Step 3. These have all the dimensions you will need to create the artwork. Please post pics once you've completed it!

buzhik (author)2010-12-23

I have so many empty walls... I'll have to make this art piece. Very cool.

griffin311 (author)2010-09-17

I am having a hard time deciphering your measurements on the plans sheets. A higher res picture would be nice, or just a list the measurements for each piece. Thanks.

kaptaink_cg (author)griffin3112010-09-18

The lengths are listed in Step 2, and you can download a higher res PDF file in step 3.

littlepetry (author)2010-08-29

Very Nice. I just might have to do this.

blopez (author)2010-07-29

I wonder if the Japanese knew about the ratio because there is something very Zen about it. It's quite beautiful.

kaptaink_cg (author)blopez2010-07-29

The interesting thing is in a lot of art, the ratio seems to show up on it's own. For example, there have been discussions that Leonardo DaVinci used the ratio when painting the Mona Lisa, but there is nothing in his notes that would imply it was intentional.

andrecarnicel (author)2010-07-29


Retirement1 (author)2010-07-29

I think you read my mind, I have been looking for a project for a large bare wall in my living room - and here it is!!

David Catriel (author)2010-07-29

Very nice idea!

Bramael (author)2010-07-27

Love it! I've been looking for some wall art.

deusexmachina (author)2010-07-27

This is very nice!

frydaddy (author)2010-07-26

my only problem with this structible is the fact that I would get beat up by my friends when I tried to explain the math behind it. HA! Looks good, and very contemporary. Nice job.

solihin_ahmad (author)2010-07-26


Michaelgoode (author)2010-07-26

thats awesome, and looks really good

l8nite (author)2010-07-25

interesting way to create art

arctic_squirrel (author)2010-07-25

Soooooooo much math. it hurts!

ChrysN (author)2010-07-25


Kiteman (author)2010-07-25

That is really pleasing on the eye.

Maybe a bit... "1970s", but that's the decade I grew up in.

lemonie (author)2010-07-25

I like it.


About This Instructable




Bio: We spend our youth trying desperately to fit in, and then the rest of our adult life doing whatever we can to stand out in ... More »
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