How I made this impermanent wall art

Ben Mann
3 min readJan 16, 2018

During my 10-day silent meditation retreat, we focused on अनिच्चा (anicca, impermanence). For me, it means making every moment count, being present, and understanding that whether I’m feeling good or bad, it won’t last.

I’ve thought about it a lot since, even writing it on my hand with a marker every day to try to remember. To remember even more, I decided to make some wall art so I could look at it every day when I wake up and before I sleep. In this post I’ll show how I made it.


  • a big piece of cardboard as a work surface
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • a knife
  • painter’s tape
  • wrapping paper
  • crayons
  • 1/4" scrap plywood (in my case 4' x 1.5', $1 at Discount Builder Supply!)
  • Spray paints


Draw your design in pencil on the wood. You might want to do a base layer of paint first to save trouble later. Then start filling in the outlines with tape.

Use the knife to cut the tape into nice rounded shapes. You might need to use many pieces of tape to approximate curves.

Apply a layer of spray paint. When going back and forth make sure to change directions off of the piece to ensure even coating. Wait a minute or two in between coats.

I really liked the way this looked and almost stopped here, but the tape started peeling in some areas, so I decided to finish it out.

Wrap up the piece with the painted side down as tightly as possible.

Cut the wrapper off the crayon and rub all over.

Use another color to make the outline more obvious.

Use the knife to cut out your outlines.

Tape down any loose parts of the paper. Patch any areas you cut too aggressively. Peel off the painted tape.

Spray paint again. Make sure to spray perpendicular to the piece to avoid spraying under the paper.

The process took about 8 hours not including acquiring materials. Fun times!

Lessons learned

I was surprised how easy it was to freehand a design that looked decent. I think this was partly due to tape making easy to get nice straight lines. If I had it to do over, I would’ve used a smoother material like MDF and painted a base layer first so I wouldn’t have to make the wrapping paper mask.

What designs would you make? Have any tips that would’ve made it easier?



Ben Mann

Software engineer, tinkerer, aspiring mad scientist