Introduction: Aged Map of Middle Earth

Picture of Aged Map of Middle Earth

This year for Christmas I decided to create a present for my wife. We are both nerds and the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" put into motion a project I had wanted to do for a while but had put on a back burner due to school. My wife has always voiced a desire to have a large map on the wall of our office. Initally I thought to make a duplicate of the map that is used in the film but I thought it wouldn't be large enough so I instead decided to make a huge map of Middle Earth for the office. I liked the idea of a map but I wanted to make it look a little more unique and aged than just a simple map. So I set out to make an aged map of Middle Earth and wanted to take you along on for this unexpected journey. Don't forget to vote!

Step 1: Concerning Hobbits......er......Maps and Things

Picture of Concerning Hobbits......er......Maps and Things

Let us be off. Firstly, lets cover some needed things and prices (rounded up to nearest dollar):

Map image - Free
Map print - $7
Wood - $6 (by getting a 4'x8' piece of plywood for $12 you can do two different large prints/projects and Home Depot will cut it for free )
Spray adhesive - $6
Black Tea and/or Instant Coffee - Free
Wood stain and/or paint - $4
Pocket Handkerchief and/or rags - Free
Paintbrush - Free (or dirt cheap)
Mounting hardware - $3
Painter's tape - Free (or dirt cheap if you don't have any on hand)

Total Cost - $26

Tools: (I am not putting a price list on the tools as these are tools most people either have or have access to)
Level
Screwdriver
Clamps (Optional but very helpful)
Needle nose Pliers with wire cutter (Optional but very helpful)
Fan (Optional but very helpful)
Bathtub or very long waterproof tub

Step 2: The Mapping Process

Picture of The Mapping Process

Firstly, the map. I searched online for an image that I thought would make a good map. I came across some cool websites like http://lotrproject.com/map/ which has a very cool interactive online map that shows various character's movements from the books and other websites that have great high resolution images. However, I didn't think that they would make a good large scale map because I know that images that have been rasterized (like jpg images) don't scale up well and since I knew how large I wanted my map, I knew that I'd need a vector image. A vector image has it's data stored in mathematical equations so that it can be re-sized to massive sizes and still have very crisp edges. I came across this website http://www.lords-of-blah.nl/mearth/mearthmap.html and nearly loaded my pants. It was exactly what I wanted. They have a vector image of the entire map in three different formats to choose from and did I mention ITS FREE! So, I downloaded the files and began to research printing options (which, in hindsight, I should have done first but it worked out well.)

While the file was downloading I did a little research and I found out that Staples offers printing in massive sizes in color and black and white. The color prints are very expensive but if you want a black and white image, you can get what they call an engineering print for pretty cheap and its a laser print (which is also beneficial for the aging process which I'll go into later). I opened the downloaded vector image in Photoshop, sized it to 36" tall by 48" wide with 180dpi because I thought it'd be easier for the people working at Staples to just open the file and hit print rather than having to resize it there. I also made the image strictly black and white because the lettering was initially red and since I wanted a B&W print, I made it all black. I added a slight white text border to make it easier to read the text from the black background images.

Here is a link to the edited file. It is a tiff file and is 438mb so it may take a little while to download.

Once I had my print, I brewed a hot bath and threw in six (6) black tea bags and let it steep for about 10 mins. After steeping for that long, I took my map and placed it, rolled up, into the bath and let it sit there in the tea bath for 15 minutes. I made sure to push down on the map every couple minutes to ensure that the center bit would get some tea in it since it kept seeming to rise in the center. As I was pushing the map down, I made some minor rips in the map and thus added to some of the aged looking characteristics of the map. I also rubbed all along the edges to create the ripped edges. The only edge that I didn't rip was the one in the middle of the roll but once I pulled the map out of the bath, I unrolled it and rubbed the edge to create the ripped look. I placed the map on two trash bags that I had opened up and lain on the floor to keep as much of the tea in the map and not on the floor. As the map was drying on the floor of my bathroom, I rubbed two additional holes in the map and made some small rips in the map as well. I then took the teabags out of the bath and dabbed them along all the edges and along the rips. The thought for this was that the ripped fibers in exposed edges in the paper would absorb the extra tea and would cause darkening of the edges. It worked fairly well and I'm pretty happy with the result. I left the map in the bathroom with the fans on for most of the day and let it air dry. If you had a massive oven you could bake it at a low heat but I don't have an oven that has a 3'x4' shelf.

Side tangent: Smaller projects that require aging can use this same process but you need to ensure that you have a laser printed image. Unfortunately, if you use a print that is from an inkjet printer, there is a great probability that while it is soaking in the tea the ink would run. An alternative to this would be to stain the paper first and then to print it. Check this site for aging paper for inkjet projects. Check this ible, steps 11 and 12,  for more detailed directions for the aging process for laser printed works.

Step 3: The Lonely Mount(ing Board)

Picture of The Lonely Mount(ing Board)

While my map dried, I began to stain my wood. I decided to stain the wood rather than paint it because I had some leftover stain from another project. I also wanted to have the wood much darker than the map to help frame it and to have the map stand out from the wall. So I stained my wood with the Ebony stain. After using the brush to stain the wood, I used a rag to clean off the extra stain. I let the wood stain dry for two days then began the mounting process. Basically, I took my mounting kit, attached one of the holders via the supplied screw and a couple washers (due to the thinness of the wood). I attached the wire to that side, ran it to the other side, attached the other holders, attached the wire to it, and cut off the extra wire. Pretty simple.

Step 4: The Mounting Path

Picture of The Mounting Path

Once I had my board done, it was time to mount the map to the board. First, I used some painter's tape to mask off the areas I DIDN'T want the adhesive to stick. This was basically a border around the board. I did this for two reasons. One: I wanted the map's edges and corners to be curled up a little bit to add some more depth and character to the map and Two: if I had put the adhesive all the way to the edges of the board, the map wouldn't cover all the adhesive and there would be a strip of stickiness all around the map which would, over time, become nasty looking.

I then placed my dry map on the board and using my clamps I secured my map where I wanted it. I then lifted one side of the map, sprayed down the board and map with the adhesive, and let it become tacky (per the adhesive's instructions.) While the adhesive was becoming tacky, I removed the tape on the side I was working on because otherwise the map would stick to the tape and that would be a pain. I then replaced the side of the map back down and placed it onto the adhesive prepared board. I pressed it all over and then clamped that half and removed the clamps on the other half of the map, folded the map over itself again, sprayed the adhesive, removed the tape, let it get tacky, and replaced the map. I made sure that the map was well pressed into the adhesive and took off all the clamps. I then took the completed board and hung it on the wall of the office.

Note: If there are any holes in the map, you'll need one more thing: a sheet of paper. I put a piece of paper beneath the holes once I had the map folded over so that when I sprayed the map back with adhesive I wouldn't spray through the hole and onto the front of the map.

Also Note: When I pressed the map to the board, there were wrinkles in the paper that caused some wrinkles in the final map that you'll see on the next page. The adhesive allowed for removal and replacement of the map if I wanted to smooth it out but I rather liked the wrinkles and thus left them.

I then took my tape and made a simple sign to make sure that my wife didn't enter the office until Christmas morning when I had planned for her to see the map.

Step 5: The Last Stage

Picture of The Last Stage

In all, I enjoyed the project. It was a simple one yet I learned a lot about the aging process and this was also my first use of spray adhesive. My life loved it and many of her friends want one now so I'm emailing them this ible so they can make one themselves! Hope you enjoyed our journey and I look forward to our next one.

Comments

DanielleBlack (author)2017-10-04

Hello! wonderful map! I love it, I wonder if you still have the file (photoshop)? I lost the file on my old computer and I want to try to make this awesome map! hope not bother you.

thanks!

Dakota Joel98 (author)2014-01-30

Very well done(I like the aged look), I am a crazy LOTR fan and this is awesome!

DIY Micah (author)Dakota Joel982015-10-20

Thanks!

Testicus (author)2015-08-08

i'm 3 ft too tall to be a Hobbit, but i would seriously fit in with their culture...

awesome post, thanks!!

DIY Micah (author)Testicus2015-10-20

Thank you and you're welcome!

StNico made it! (author)2015-10-19

Turned out wonderfully! Got some rips when soaking in the tub and thought I may have ruined the whole thing, but it worked out perfectly and really added to the aged look of the map. After it had dried from the tea bath, I made some really strong, black coffee and dabbed/poured that over the map as it was laying on the wood. It added a lot of contrast with some really dark/light areas. Thanks for this! It was for my fiancee's B-day and she loves it...On to Thror's Map ;)

DIY Micah (author)StNico2015-10-20

Well done! I showed my wife your image and she thought it was the one from our living room! Haha! It looks fantastic! I too thought the rips in mine were going to ruin it but when it's all said and done you're right, it does add to the aged look. Great job!

jimgar (author)2014-01-17

I wanted a slightly smaller map: 24" high instead of 36". So I went to the same source and fixed up a map the same way as this gentleman. Namely, resized it, converted the red text to black so it will print solid and clear (which really matters on the smaller labels!), and put some white buffer around the text so it doesn't get jumbled into the landscape. Here's my version in a 17 MB PDF file:

http://69.167.49.132/files/middle-earth-map-24x36....

Enjoy.

OrIsIt (author)2013-01-02

This may be a tad rude, but would you mind giving us the 'shopped file(I have no photoshop knowledge at all)

DIY Micah (author)OrIsIt2013-01-06

OrIsIt! Thanks to matt_uhs's awesome idea about dropbox, here is a link to the edited 3'x4' .tiff file. Hope this helps! I've also added it into step 2.

DIY Micah (author)OrIsIt2013-01-02

Hey Orlslt, it's not rude at all. Due to the resolution and size of the image, the file is nearly 500mb. I'll upload it to a file hosting site and then post a link here. Keep in mind it is a 36" tall by 48" wide image so unless you want it that large, it may be wise to resize it first using a resizing website or a free photoshop-like program such as GIMP.

OrIsIt (author)DIY Micah2013-01-02

Thank you. I am going for 36x48 print so I don't expect that to be the real problem. Also, I looked both here and on the 'ible you posted a link of(for the aging process) and I could't find anything about what to do if it is an Inkjet. Also, I'm sorry I didn't write this before, this 'ible is amazing.

DIY Micah (author)OrIsIt2013-01-02

Thanks! I posted a new link for a site that does discuss aging paper for inkjet projects in that same section. I'm still trying to find a good file hosting site that can host a 437mb file. Most have a 200mb file restriction. Once I do find a good hosting site I'll post the link to the image here.

matt_uhs (author)2013-01-06

Hey DIY Micah, thanks for this awesome 'ible! As for hosting the image, why not try the shared feature on Dropbox?

DIY Micah (author)matt_uhs2013-01-06

Hi matt_uhs. Thanks for the Dropbox idea! That seems like it'll work. I'm updating my ible at the moment with the direct file link.

WriterChick (author)2012-12-29

This is an absolutely terrific 'ible, with good links to other 'ibles, clear instructions, and quite funny ... dialogue, perhaps? Instant fave, against the time I need something like this. Thanks!

DIY Micah (author)WriterChick2012-12-31

Thanks WriterChick! Most of the titles and some of the random text come from either the books or the movies.

valkgurl (author)DIY Micah2013-01-06

We used Staples for the photo parts of a photo wrapped canvas artwork---for matte photo paper sized 13"x16" B&W prints they charged $7 each; they even gave us the "test" ones they ran as "quick n dirty" to make sure we got the image we needed.

They were also able to work with the pic emailed directly to their desk from an Android phone---the image we needed was taken with the phone. This allowed for better enlargement with less grain and distortion. We also used Walmart for some pics we only had "hard copies" of and they offer larger (poster and above!) sizes at CERTAIN photo centers in some stores. These actually came out very nice and were very reasonable and you can do all the sizing and editing yourself so you get exactly what you need. And you can get them printed in several sizes in an hour or so.

Great map! Nice technique! Might use this as a housewarming for first house gift idea--map of town where relatives new house is!

Anime and The Beatles (author)2012-12-31

cooooooooooooool

that is pretty neat!
thanks for the instructable

Thanks 101geese and you're welcome.

crossfire (author)2012-12-30

Wonderful 'ible! (and thanks for the great link to the map!)

DIY Micah (author)crossfire2012-12-31

Thanks crossfire and you're welcome.

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Bio: I am a nerd, gamer, and registered nurse and I like to make stuff.
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