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Build This Optical Illusion Curio Shelf

curio shelf optical illusions imageDaria creator of stabilitybaby image

Last Friday, Nov 4th, I posted a Curio Shelf optical illusion and commented that it didn't look structurally sound. I had one viewer, Daria, comment as follows

"Actually, I can think of a scenario in which this would not only be possible, but provide for a stable shelf."

I appropriately bowed down to her obvious expertise. In response Daria of Step Step Build explained in the comments section how this shelf could be built.

I understood exactly how it was possible but she went a step beyond just telling me how it could be done. She modified the original image so you could see how it could be built, notice each bracket is constructed with 2 right angles and is actually 3 edges of a cube. Of course it would only look like this from one specific angle (in this case you would have be able to see through the wall or mount it on a clear glass partition).Stability Baby Book Shelve optical illusion revealed

I think it would be great to build this shelf, mount it on a glass wall then photograph it, frame the photo and mount the photo on a wall where guests could see it. I would then have the actual curio/book shelf in use, also where guests could see it.

I wonder how many would ask why this shelf was constructed oddly and how many guests would make the connection between the photo and the shelf?

Thanks Daria, very nice.

If you still don't see how this works check out Impossible Triangle Illusion Revealed.


daria said...


This was unexpected. Thanks for putting it up! All the more incitive to actually construct such a shelf. The photograph idea is brilliant too!

I suppose a good place to build such a shelf would be at an angle where the optical illusion would be seen frequently. For example, near the front door, so all entering guests could see it (or near any other doorway in the house), or in the tv room, where it could be seen by someone sitting on a particlar end of a couch.

Many thanks,


PS - though I appreciate the photograph, I must note that it is not of me, but of my close friend, who is also called Daria. My photograph appears above hers as the yellow smiley face. : )

I'll soon be writing a piece on real-life optical illusions for my site myself, so I'll keep you informed. Oh, and should this shelf ever see the light of day, I'll make sure you get full credit.

Andy said...

Very cool idea. One alternate idea would be to actually use one of the floating shelves for actual structural support (IKEA has a popular one), and mount the brackets underneath in such a way as to imply support, but they could be completely non-functional.

This way, you wouldn't have to mount the shelf against a glass wall, but could play with various points of view independent of structural requirements.

rachel said...

i was wondering if I could use your idea of building the shelf and mounting it on a peice of glass, and putting photos of the shelf on it for my alevel art.
Ive been reasearching eschers work for a while now and I think this shelf would make a really cool final peice.
I would be happy to send you photos of the finished piece and give you full credit for the idea


rachel x

I was also wondering what ideas andy had in mind when he said 'you could play with various points of view independent of structural requirements.'

Walt said...


Be my guest and the best of luck to you.

I believe Andy was talking about mounting it backwards with the wall brackets facing the viewer. He points to a shelf that has invisible mounting. It attaches to the wall with no visible means of support. Mounting the shelf in this fashion would allow you to place the "Impossible Triangle" brackets facing the viewer.

Personally, I would just mount the shelf on glass or hung by fishing line for the photo, then mount it on a wall with the photo above it and some curios on the shelf.

Good Luck,

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