Summer is the perfect time to travel, and with the rise of hand-dandy GPS devices and smart phone apps, it’s always easy to find where you are and decide where you’re going. Even so, there’s something very special about maps — be it the sweet nostalgia they bring of old family road trips, or more frustrating but humorous memories of having taken a wrong left turn because someone didn’t want to stop and ask for directions. Many maps have our notes scribbled on them, and they show the wear and tear of being messily folded up and stashed back into the glove compartment. They wear their age and carry with them all the charm and mystery of the unexplored. Simply put, maps hold extraordinary images and information which makes them a wonderful material for creative, upcycled projects.
This summer, if you’re taking off on a cross-country vacation or just setting out to explore your city, take a map with you, and jot down thoughts, notes, even affirmations. If you have older maps that are now outdated, don’t throw them out — they’re a beautiful alternative to patterned paper. This post is all about map-inspired projects. With everything from decoupage art and collaged compositions to jewelry making, we’re sure that this list of projects will inspire you to make something beautiful and unique with your maps.
A Creative Assortment of Map-Inspired Projects
A Different Place and Time
“The more wear and tear and crease marks a map has, the more interesting it is to me. I consider it a challenge to try and preserve these little pieces of history.” ~Melanie Prior; as appeared in the Autumn 2011 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
Melanie’s projects are functional and beautiful. From map-covered tin cans that function as whimsical travel-inspired pencil holders to actual map-encased pencils, Melanie picks the most interesting portions of a map to use in her work. Among her unique upcycling projects are her map coasters, which she makes by repurposing not only maps, but also materials like spare marble tiles, old CDs, and leftover pieces of wood.
Paper crafter and basket weaver Nancy Procter created a stunning paper-weaving technique that allows her to create intricate patterns that are perfect for making boxes, lamp shades, and clutch purses. One of her preferred materials is maps because of the manageability of the paper as well as the intricate designs. You can see all the details of Nancy’s stunning paper weaving technique in the Spring 2013 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
CD Case Picture Frames
“When I put my eyes on one of the ‘Imagining Green’ calls for artwork in the Autumn 2012 issue of GreenCraft Magazine that challenged readers to find a stylish and functional use for jeweled CD cases, I happily answered the call.” ~Monica Sabolla Gruppo; as appeared in Spring 2013 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
By taking two completely ordinary things, such as old discarded CD cases and outdated maps, Monica created an extraordinary eco-chic home décor item. These CD case picture frames stand alone and allow you to showcase both an image as well as a map that outlines where the picture was taken. It’s a unique take on memory art as well as a very eco-friendly project.
Charming Travel Keepsake Earrings
This jewelry project by Lorrie Everitt is a creative and beautiful way to carry with you treasured memories of places you’ve visited. All you need are glass tiles, bits of your favorite maps, some Diamond Glaze, and earring hardware. Get the full tutorial in the Spring 2012 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
A Map for the Road
What better way to commemorate a road trip than by creating a traveling journal out of a road-map atlas? Kristina Roth wanted to journal her way cross country and came up with this imaginative idea in the Spring 2012 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
Ephemera Pots Projects
This project comes straight out of The Studio. It features three paper mache pots that are altered with paint and decoupaged pieces of torn maps and labels. The end result is a unique display for organizing photographs, recipes, ephemera, and just about anything else you can fit into these pots.
Push The Envelope
“I also love using items in a different way than what their original purpose was. Thinking outside of the box is important. So using magazines, books, wallpaper, an atlas, maps, etc., to make envelopes or cards, or to use in scrapbooking, seemed a natural progression for me.” ~Dana Horadam; as appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of GreenCraft Magazine.
Dana’s envelopes come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re made from all sorts of different materials. From book and magazine pages to, of course, our beloved maps. What better way to send greeting cards to people abroad or when traveling than with custom-made envelopes that showcase the places being visited?
How Do You Upcycle Maps?
Do you paint over them and bind them into books or do you put them in a frame, hang them up, and let their natural beauty stand out? Maps have very important uses, but they also stimulate the imagination and provide stunning patterned backgrounds for mixed-media projects. We’ve shared a few creative ideas that utilize maps at the heart of projects, but now we want to know how you would use them.
Share your ideas in the comment section below, or better yet send them in as submissions for a chance to be published in GreenCraft Magazine.
Click here to learn more about the submissions process.