Photo Credit: Tim Waters Photography www.timwatersphoto.com
So much has happened since the last time I posted….including a some incredible celebrations leading up to the best day of my life – marrying my best friend and love my life – and the most incredible honeymoon . My Etsy shop has reopened, and I’m starting to ease my way back into the blogging world. So much to catch up on though, so I’m taking baby steps.
To celebrate the incredible time we had on our honeymoon in Italy, I wanted to share the DIY tutorial for the vintage map collage I created for our family room.
I was originally inspired by this huge, gorgeous tiled Je T’aime Paris Wall Art from Wisteria. And even some at Restoration Hardware, but not with the price tags that came with each.
This 9 panel map costs a whopping $2500 at Restoration Hardware. That’s a little excessive for my wallet, considering I could create the look for under $100.
With the help of Google Images (and I don’t know what I would do without it), I found several online sources for downloading vintage maps, some for a price, and some free. Unfortunately, I did not keep a list of where I found the maps I used in this tutorial, but I got them for around $20-25 per high-resolution digital file. Just try googling keywords like “free archival maps”, “digital antique maps”, etc.
For those of you who are attempting this project on your own, there are several tutorials out there in addition to mine.
This tutorial will yield one map gallery collage with 3 rows and 3 columns of 8”x10” frames. With a few materials, you can make this baby under $100, possibly even less (mine was around $75 with the digital file I purchased, and $50 in frames after a BOGO sale). Which means, you can get that beautiful 9-panel vintage map look and feel for the tiniest fraction of the price.
Here is what you will need:
- 1 map – either hardcopy or high-resolution digital file (300 dpi); sized 24”x30”
- Photo editing program (I used Photoshop)
- Nine (9) 8”x10” thin frames (I purchased mine from Aaron Brothers, but IKEA Ribbon Frames are another practical option or you can check your local Dollar Store)
- Pan or large plate
- Freshly brewed caffeine (the stronger the caffeine, the darker the stain; espresso = dark; coffee = medium; tea = light)
- Tea or Coffee Grounds
- Rock Salt
- Regular Salt (Morton’s)
- Drying racks (any object, place or area where you can hang or drape the wet pages to allow air flow from above and below)
- Acrylic paint in a shade or two lighter than frames
- Coarse Bristle Brush
- Scrap paper
- Hanging hardware
1) If working from a digital file, you will want to expand the map to 24”x30” size. I did this via Photoshop. My maps were slightly larger to keep the proportions constrained, but I just cropped a bit from the edges of the map. You can either get an “Engineering Sized (24”x36”)” print made at a local print shop, or you can crop 8”x10” rectangles from your digital files, and print from home. This is the route I went.
Once you have a printed copy of your map, ensure you have nine (9) 8”x10” rectangles cut.
2) Next comes the staining. Pour your caffeine (I used a triple shot of freshly brewed espresso) into a tray or large plate. Dip each page into the liquid and ensure it absorbs completely by dragging the page thru the liquid, both on the front and back side. You will want to do this quickly so that the page doesn’t get too soggy and tear.
3) Place each wet page on a drying area. I used a 3 tier cookie rack, and a laundry drying rack to allow air flow from underneath the pages as well as on top. Allowing airflow underneath the page will prevent it from sticking and ripping once it dries. Be sure to place towels underneath if you are worried about dripping onto anything beneath.
4) Next sprinkle a combination of rock salt and regular salt in a few areas, here and there on each page. This will absorb the coffee or tea and leave lighter colored spots, adding an aged look to the pages.
5) Repeat the same step with the coffee or tea grounds. This will add some darker areas, making the map look even more aged.
6) While you wait for the pages to dry, you can prep your frames. Attach hanging hardware if needed. As my frames were plain black, and very similar to the IKEA Ribbon Frames, I wanted to add a bit of faux distressing. I dry brushed some Burnt Umber brown acrylic paint in length wise strokes along the frame. To dry brush, dab a coarse bristle brush into the paint, and dab off the excess onto some scrap paper. Then lightly brush the frame using gentle strokes going in the same direction.
If your pages still aren’t dry, you can go ahead and start marking the grid on your wall. We used this handy as-seen-on-TV Hang and Level Picture Hanging tool and eyeballed it. You could also tape up pieces of paper (the same size as the frame) as your guide.
7) Finally, once dry, dust the salt and coffee/tea grounds off the pages and insert them into the frames.
8) Hang the frames in order and stand back to admire the very thrifty wall gallery you just created!
For our home, I created a map for Rome and another for Sicily. There is special meaning behind the Sicily map as Frankie’s father’s family is from Sicily. I actually made these maps well over a year ago, when I hadn’t been to either before. Now I can proudly say I’ve experienced 9 Italian cities and loved every waking moment of each. More on that later!
Happy DIY-ing :)