Make an old looking map that takes a hiking trip and turns it into memories.

I originally thought of this as a non- traditional Valentine’s day gift to give.  I like to hike and I think a hike makes a very nice date. What a better way to remember a nice time out together then to make an actual map of it. Since I’ve finished one of these I’ve decided that it would also work great for a family outing, especially designed as a treasure map for kids to follow.

Large sheet of paper – I used 11X17 also known as Ledger size
Tea Bags
Coffee – instant is fine
2 sheets of aluminum foil larger than the paper size
Yellow, red, green food coloring
2 sizes calligraphy pens with inks
4H or harder pencil
Soft hardness pencil
Gum style and/or white drawing eraser
Map image of your hiking trails – digital
Rubber stamp with inkpad

Iron (clothes)
Large metal ruler
Fire – I used a blow torch but a candle or match should suffice

Print off your map

There are several ways to get a map of your trails. The easiest is to take the paper map that’s often provided by the park service. Government run parks almost always have printable maps listed on their websites.  Another possible way is to use GPS to track your trip. I don’t have GPS so I’ll leave those steps for someone else to Instructible on.
You will want a printed map that is at least the size of a standard letter size paper. I am an American so our standard letter paper size is 8.5 X 11 inches (The American system of defining paper weights and sizes is the single most ridiculous measurement systems we have, and that’s saying a lot). If you can print it out the size of your desired finished size it may make the steps easier.
We will proceed as if we have to increase the size and scale of the map.

Step 1: Ageing the Paper

Stopper a sink and add several cups of hot water to it. Add several tea bags, a scoop of coffee grounds, and several drops of the three food colorings. Make sure you swirl the tea bags around to release the tea. We are shooting for a dark transparent brown.
Add the sheet of paper to the sink and wet completely. Be careful once the paper gets wet as it becomes very fragile. I used a spoon to create ridges on the wet paper. These will create darker areas in the crinkles. It doesn’t matter if small rips or tears occurs, in fact that will enhance the final map but do keep them small or I suggest starting over with a new paper.

The longer you leave the paper in the water the darker it will get. I didn’t want a really dark piece so I removed it after about 5 minutes.

Place one aluminum sheet dull side up on a heat resistant counter top.
Carefully remove the paper from the water and place on the first aluminum sheet. Don’t worry any coffee grounds stick to your paper. Place the other aluminum sheet dull side down on the paper.
Set your iron to its highest setting (likely cotton or linen). Now iron the aluminum/paper sandwich. Keep the iron moving, but you can go slowly. If you watch and listen you can see the water leave the paper as steam. I would leave the iron in place for a 15 count and then move to an adjacent spot.

Every so often carefully peel back the top layer to check dryness levels. The moist paper will often want to stick to the aluminum foils. Have patience and keep ironing until the paper is almost completely dry. You want it dry enough it is easy to handle and the inks won’t run from moisture.

About This Instructable


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Bio: I currently am working as a software quality assurance tester. I have enjoyed woodworking since I was a kid and have started to build up ... More »
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