Introduction: DIY Map Decor for Your Home! Aka, What to Do If You Have Tons of Maps Laying Around.

I am doing a whole series of “apartment map décor” because:
1) I have a TON of old National Geographic maps (the giant kind, too.. not the normal paper maps!)
2) I needed some decor for my new apartment. 

A common idea I saw was framing an area of the map, or simple wall hangings of antique or vintage-looking maps. I also saw other map-inspired decor that I wanted to use, but did not want to spend a lot of money... as a college student, I need to keep a low budget! Since I need new decor, and I have a lot of craft supplies available, I figured it would be fun for me to see what I could make with my old maps and some readily-available craft supplies. 

Included in this Instructable are some ideas I came up with that involved supplies I already had. I made: origami paper, mobile of origami cranes, drink coaster, luggage tags, map-covered journal, table display art, gift box, photo box, and picture frame. No need to limit your creativity.. let me know if you have any other objects you'd like to turn into a map-theme!

Disclaimer: by no means is this a "life hack"...none of these items make your life easier. If you're looking for decorations, this might be useful to you.This is a great way to up-cycle old maps and other craft supplies you might have laying around. :)

Step 1: Materials I Used

I based my ideas heavily off of what I already had at my disposal. Of course, the main item here is old maps. To make what I did, this is what I used: 

- my old collection of National Geographic maps (from 1978, apparently)
- photo box/bin
- small wooden picture frame
- small canvasses
- scissors and scalpel (scalpel not required - only if you want to cut out detailed images)
- ModPodge (any puzzle glue would probably work)
- Tacky glue
- foam paint brush
- yarn and yarn needle 
- clear packaging tape 
- ruler
- cardboard 
- wooden chopsticks 

Step 2: Origami Paper

For those of you who already make origami figures, this is already a given:

Cut squares out of the paper and use them as origami paper. I personally like 6 inch by 6 inch squares, so I cut out a piece of cardboard to be my template. 

My maps were huge and one map produced 24 sheets of origami paper - happy folding! 

Step 3: Origami Crane Mobile

Using the origami paper I just made, I folded eight paper cranes (refer to this website if you do not already know how to make cranes: ). 

I then took the two chopsticks, crossed them in the middle, and tied yarn around the center to make an X shape. I also added a loop at top. 

I made my mobile where there are 2 cranes hanging from each corner of the X. I cut four lengths of yarn about 2 feet long. Tie a knot in the yarn, and pull from the bottom of the crane to the top of the crane: the knot will get stuck at the bottom and will hold the crane in place. Tie another knot where you'd like the crane to be, and repeat. When done with all 4 yarn pieces, tie the top of each piece to each corner of the X. 

Play around with the chopsticks to see where it balances best. 

Step 4: Map Drink Coaster

This was a little trickier since I decided to weave with a double layer of paper - it would be easier to simply take strips of paper and weave, versus trying to do a double weave like I did (see picture to understand what I mean by double layer: it's simply paper folded in half). 

For my coaster, I cut pieces of paper about 1/2 inch wide, and about 6 inches long.

After weaving is done, fold raw edges into the piece. I covered my coaster with clear packaging tape on both sides. 

Step 5: Map-covered Journal

The yellow journal I had was just getting too boring. I decided to spruce it up with a map! 

Open the journal and spread it across the map. Cut about an extra half inch around the map's area. 

Spread ModPodge on the outside flaps of the journal and press down firmly onto the map. 

To make the folding a little easier, I cut out a triangle at the top and bottom of the spine - see picture. I also cut the maps diagonally at the corners - see pictures. 

Spread ModPodge on the rest of the flaps of the maps, and fold inwards. 

In the last picture, you can see that I added an extra piece of paper to the inside cover as well - cut a rectangle about half an inch smaller than the notebook, and then spread ModPodge onto the back, and press firmly onto the notebook.

My notebook happens to have a plastic cover that holds it, but if you don't have a cover like that, spread ModPodge on the outside of the notebook. 

Step 6: Map-covered Gift Box

I had an old Nexus box laying around, and decided it would be a great little gift box. 

I am assuming the reader has knowledge on how to wrap a gift with wrapping paper - because I wrapped the outer cover of the box like I would wrap a gift. 

I placed the box down on the map, and cut out enough paper to go over the sides of the box as well as the inside.

Spread ModPodge on the main face of the box, and press the map onto it. 

This isn't pictured, but an easier way to fold the sides around the box would be to cut out rectangles at the corners and simply wrap around. Once the map is in place, spread ModPodge around the sides of the box as well as the inner lid area and wrap the map into it. I used clear packaging tape to line the inside of the box for extra hold. 

Spread ModPodge around the entire map area; I let the layer dry for about 20 minutes before adding another layer. 

Step 7: Map-wrapped Canvas

I had a small canvas, about 6 inches by 6 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Because it was so small, I could easily cover up the back and there wouldn't be a problem. 

For this specific piece, I decided to choose two locations special to me: my birthplace, and where I grew up. I cut out the pieces with about an extra inch to fold over the sides of the canvas. 

Since the canvas was about 1 1/2 inches wide, I cut a long strip of paper  (in my case, about 25 inches long) around 2 inches wide and folded the sides inward so that the folded piece would be a little under 1 1/2 inches wide. 

Spread ModPodge on on side of the canvas, and lay one of the maps down onto it. Repeat for the back side. Wrap the edges over the width of the canvas.

Spread ModPodge fully on both sides. Wrap the long strip of paper along the width of the canvas, spreading ModPodge as you go . 

When done, I gave this piece about 5 layers of ModPodge to give it a shiny effect... of course, letting each layer dry between 15-20 minutes. 

Step 8: Map-themed Luggage Tags

Playing cards are the perfect size for luggage tags. Gluing two cards together and then wrapping in the map made for an excellent luggage tag. I used Mod Podge to paste the map to the cards, and used tacky glue to stick the yarn to the inside of the cards. I placed a lined index card on on side to make room for writing name, address, etc. 

On the side where there is no blank card, I put a few layers of Mod Podge to make it a little more durable. 

Step 9: Map-themed Picture Frame

I had a wooden frame I did not particularly like. I also had some leftover brown yarn, so I decided I would make a "suitcase" frame! 

I wrapped the yarn around the frame (warning: this takes much longer than you would think!), taping the end down to the frame. I chose brown since I wanted to make this a "suitcase" picture frame. 

I took a white piece of cardboard and cut it into the shape of a block-like C, with rounded edges. I used tacky glue to attach a piece of yarn to the outer edge of the C. 

I taped down the "handle" with packaging tape, on top of the yarn - my tape is heavy duty so it sticks to nearly anything! 

Place a picture of your choice (here, of course, it's a map!) in the back. 

Step 10: Map-covered Photo Box

My photo box was too plain for me ... so why not spruce it up with a Hawaii map and some images from that map? 

The maps I had were not only maps, but also contained general information about the culture and wildlife of each state. For Hawaii, there were pretty pictures of flowers and some animals that I wanted to use. 

For the top of the box, you can measure out a piece of the map that you want to use. I took pieces of the Hawaii map and made sort of a collage out of them. You can't really see that here since most of the pieces were maps of water around Hawaii. 

Once you have all the pieces you would like (or just one giant piece), spread ModPodge over the entire top and sides of the lid and press the piece(s) of map onto it. When wrapping to the inside of the lid, I used packaging tape to line the inside and hold down the maps.

For the bottom part, there is not need to line the entire outside, since a chunk of the top will be covered by the lid. I measured enough paper to cover the sides and reach under the bottom. Spread ModPodge around the sides of the box and press the map pieces onto it.

For the bottom face, I covered it with a piece of paper. After letting a layer of ModPodge dry around the bottom part of the box, I wrapped it in packaging tape. 

Step 11: Envelopes

This is also a given for people who already use lots of different papers for paper crafts. 

Now that you have all these decorations for your new place (well, new place for me at least), why not make some envelopes for a house warming party? :)