Maps are beautiful: the typography, the pastel colors, the highways connecting cities and towns like a detailed dot-to-dot. So why relegate them to the glove compartment, when they can be used as home decor? Plus, crafting with maps is a great way to save money on vacation souvenirs, allowing you to create your own personalized mementos.
Don’t worry about keeping your maps in pristine condition — think shabby chic.
Here are several places re-styled maps can find a place in your home:
ON THE WALL:
The quickest option is to simply pop a map into a frame and hang it on the wall. A wide, white mat will keep the look fresh and light, and works particularly well for maps that show the ocean or other water. By using a mat with multiple openings, you also can frame a map alongside a favorite vacation photo, or create a collage that mixes maps and pictures.
Another option is covering a plain photo mat with a map to frame a snapshot: Cut the map to the same size as the outer dimensions of the photo mat and adhere with decoupage glue. Turning it over, cut an “X’’ in the map from opposite corners of the mat opening, and fold the resulting flaps to the back of the mat, trim and glue.
Craft stores also sell inexpensive fiberboard or wooden frames designed to be painted or decoupaged with scrapbooking paper. Use a map instead.
ON THE FRIDGE:
Magnets are a useful way to display maps on a smaller scale. Inexpensive, flat-bottomed glass marbles — often used in flower arranging — are available at craft stores, and higher quality glass discs in a variety of sizes are available for purchase online. Diamond Glaze, also available online, can be used to glue a round snippet of map to a marble and to stick a magnet on the back. Make sure to use a strong magnet that can support the weight of the glass marble as well as anything you might be hanging up with it.
ON THE COFFEE TABLE:
A plastic photo cube doesn’t have to hold just photos. Swapping out a few photos with maps instantly identifies the location where the pictures were taken. Coasters offer another surface for embellishment: Pick up a few tiles at a home store and decoupage maps to the tops, sanding away the edges for a rustic look. Cover with plenty of coats of decoupage glue or another sealant to prevent moisture damage.
WRAPPED AROUND CONTAINERS:
Again using decoupage glue, cover a plain wooden tray with maps. Or cover a small metal bucket with a map from a seaside vacation and fill the bucket with rocks and shells collected on the beach.
AROUND YOUR NECK:
Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve: Wear your favorite place around your neck.
Pendants made out of recycled Scrabble tiles have become quite popular in the crafting world. They come covered in a dizzying array of patterned papers, but there’s no reason why maps can’t work equally well. You can purchase Scrabble tiles on eBay or directly from Hasbro, the game’s maker.
To hang the pendant, you need a jewelry bail attached to the back of the tile. Often called Aanaruku bails, they can be hard to find in stores, but are available from numerous sellers on etsy.com, along with the glue needed to hold everything together and give the map a raised, glossy finish.
How to make a Scrabble tile pendant with a map:
- Scrabble tile
- scrap of cardstock
- craft knife
- decoupage glue, such as Mod Podge
- paint brush
- clear, dimensional glue such as Diamond Glaze
- jewelry bail
- strong glue such as Super Glue or E600
- necklace, ribbon or cord to hang the pendant from
1: Trace the Scrabble tile on the scrap of cardstock and cut out the square slightly outside the drawn lines. This creates a little window you can use to decide which piece of map you want to highlight.
2: Using the frame to mark your map, cut out the square that will become your pendant’s design. Cut just inside the line to avoid having pencil or pen marks on your pendant.
3: Using a paintbrush and following decoupage instructions, glue the cutout to the blank side of the tile. Allow to dry.
4: If any of the paper is hanging off the edge, flip the tile over and carefully trim away the excess with the craft knife. Alternately, use sandpaper or a nail file to sand away the excess paper along the edges.
5: Apply an even layer of Diamond Glaze to the front of the tile. Start by outlining the outside, then fill in the middle. The glaze shouldn’t run over the edges. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
6: Glue jewelry bail to back of tile, centering it so the loop for the necklace or ribbon is at the top edge.