"Phi" Wall Art




Introduction: "Phi" Wall Art

About: 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 the crowd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!



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32 Discussions

great concept, thanks for sharing

I am trying to make it at least half the size or at least with half of the amount of wooden rods.

wow, stunning...

Making it now, thanks for the plans!

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.


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

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

great concept, thanks for sharing

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! :)

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 :)

1 reply

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!

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

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.

1 reply

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

1 reply

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. http://www.coastal-style.com/mona-lisa.html