Map art is a personal favorite. When I was young we had one of those rotating globes and I would spend a great deal of time studying and spinning it, stopping it with one finger and deciding I was going to live where my finger landed. While I haven’t moved to Djibouti (yet), I have done some traveling over the years. The pictures and souvenirs are nice, but I really wanted to document the places I’ve visited on a larger scale. Rather than just a plain old map held up with thumb tacks, I craved something with character and depth. This project was just the thing I was looking for.
Finding the right wall map was the hardest part – I wanted aged and BIG. I eventually found one on Amazon for under $20. My original plan was to cut the map into a grid and mount each piece on smaller canvases, then hang them as if they were each a puzzle piece. However I KEPT it simple and went for one large canvas – and it turned out to be cheaper and less time consuming.
I kept my eye out for canvas sales at Michael’s and ended up taking advantage of their 50% off canvases sale, plus happened to snag an extra 20% off an entire purchase coupon. So I walked out of there with a 48″ x 36″ heavy duty, framed canvas and paid about $32 (originally $80). You can find the brown kraft paper (sometimes called masking paper) at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and it runs about $11 for a huge roll – something I’ve already found other uses for.
So, if you’re looking for a way to document your travels or just have an interest in map art, then this one’s for you. Don’t be afraid to try out different sizes and styles of maps. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the grid! Here’s a great DIY tutorial for the grid map.
I’m all about saving money too, so if you can find a large map at a garage sale or brown kraft paper at a building materials auction, that would be a big money-saver. I also found map pins on Amazon to mark the places to which I’ve traveled, but you can always forgo that option. Happy mapping!
Total Cost: Less than $70
Total Time: 60–90 minutes
Large Wall Map (50″x32″ – not laminated)
Brown Packing Paper
Mod Podge (for paper, matte finish)
Map Pins (optional)
STEP 1: Cut and crumple
Roll out the brown kraft paper and lay the canvas on top. Roll the paper 8 inches past the width of the canvas and make a cut. You don’t have to cover the whole canvas in paper, just the parts that will show, so you can use this one cut piece to cover the canvas.
Cut the large sheet into four strips, widthwise (each will be about 4-5 inches thick). If you want an aged look, crumple up the paper into balls, then unfold and smooth them out just a little. Otherwise, leave them flat.
STEP 2: Cover the canvas
Start at the top and spray the adhesive across the front of the top of the canvas and on one side of the crumpled paper. After 10-15 seconds, apply the crumpled paper to the canvas, a little at a time, adhesive to adhesive. Keep in mind that you will want to cover the top and side-facing edges of the canvas so leave some overhang.
To cover the top/side-facing edges, spray the adhesive on both the canvas and the paper, then fold the paper over to adhere. For the corners, I folded the paper as if I were wrapping a gift.
Repeat this process for the bottom and sides of the canvas. To make it even more secure I wrapped the extra paper around to the back and adhered it to the back of the canvas.
Step 3: Cut and paste
Since the map is 50 inches wide and the canvas is only 48 inches wide, cut each West/East edge of the map down by 1 inch. The map I purchased had somewhat of a dashed/decorative edge so I just cut all four sides down to that edge, so it looked uniform.
Spray the map and the canvas with adhesive. After 10-15 seconds, carefully lay the map down onto the canvas, starting with one side and working your way to the other side. Make sure the edges are secure. Lift up any loose corners/edges and spray adhesive in between the map and the canvas. Smooth the map out with your hand.
Step 4: Mod Podge the heck out of it
Surprisingly, this is probably the most difficult step. With a medium to large sized brush, apply the Mod Podge onto the map and the brown paper.
Depending on the kind of map you’re using, you may notice some bubbling. If this happens, use the metal part of the brush or another firm, straight edge (try a ruler) to smooth out the bubbles. Move the ruler from the middle toward the outer edges, while applying medium pressure. You may have to do this several times to smooth out the bubbles. If you have a map that’s printed on thinner paper, be careful with how much pressure you apply.
Smooth out the bubbles as you apply the Mod Podge, rather than after – if you wait until the entire map is covered in Mod Podge, you run the risk of it drying, after which you it might be too late.
The little imperfections add to the map’s aged look so I saved myself some time and energy by leaving a few small bubbles.