Intro: Customised Map Letters (on the Cheap!)
While I love map covered letters I don't love the £12+ that they charge for them online and urban outfitters. These letters are super chunky and come in at only £3.75 a letter but for wall mounted letters they would only work out just 75p each. (Website details at the end or in my profile)
Materials needed: Wooden letters, PVA, Computer and printer.
A lot of the letters out there use vintage maps and after looking in every charity shop I could find I was coming up short. This method is dirt cheep, looks cool and as you can print out anywhere totally customisable. I’m thinking:
- Words such as KITCHEN or HOME just for display.
- Initials for a wedding (maybe at the guestbook table)
- A child’s name for their bedroom shelf
- For a summer memento get the word TRIP, SUMMER or HOLIDAY. Print out the places you visit and mount them on different letters. For extra points make them with your child and discuss what you did, where they liked, what happened in each place etc.
- Teachers, when teaching units concerning the local area get each child to write their name on a wooden heart or wooden house shape (we can supply both). Get them to glue the relevant map section to the front and write their name and (possibly) address on the back. This can also tie into discussions such as transport to and from school.
Step 1: Print Your Maps & Letters
1. Find your map, although you can use a real map if you wish I’m assuming you wish to use a print out. Go online to Bing Maps. Type in your postcode. On the left hand side there is a little drop down which allows you to choose map style. I used the ordinance servy style as I think it’s the most interesting visually (and is why I used Bing not Google maps)
2. Use Bing to print off the maps, this gives you a square of map that fits on an A4 page. Put them aside for now.
3. I wanted to make my letters self-supporting, for this reason I cut out three of each letter from 6mm thick ply using 14cm Sassoon Infant (that’s the font they now use in Primary Schools and has a nice flat bottom except for the O which I tweaked). You will need to get your letters in Capitals as otherwise they won’t stand.
Step 2: Preparing Your Letters and Map
4. Glue the three letters together, make sure you get them the right way round as even the O is subtly asymmetric. The back of the letter normally has some light brown marks on it which make it easy to tell.
5. Put something heavy on top of the letters and have a cup of tea.
6. Look at your maps, decide what features you want to be able to see. Get your letters and play around laying them out trying to get all your points of interest on. Do not put your letter upside down on the paper but have the front pointing towards you.
7. Cut the map piece out. There are a few ways to do this. I used a scalpel but if you have children doing this I recommend getting them to draw around the letters with pencil then cut them out with scissors. The finish won’t be as nice as with the scalpel but you won’t hurt anyone!
Step 3: Attatch the Maps and Finish Nicely
8. Spread lots of glue all the way to the edges of your letter, position your map piece on and gently smooth it over working from one side to the next taking care to get rid of wrinkles. I recommend rubbing the whole thing with a soft cloth from the middle to the edges.
9. Soften the edges of your piece by putting a small bead of glue on your finger and running it all the way round the outside, don’t let your finger get dry and tacky as it will jog the paper. The adheres the edges really well and also makes the map look more like part of the letter as opposed to a separate layer stuck on top. This is optional but really does make a difference (and it only takes 2 secs).
10. Done! If these are going somewhere that they might be exposed to the wear and tear of day to day life I would varnish them. Also I left the edges of my letters plain but I think they would be really cute with the edges painted, maybe with colours that tie in with the map or maybe to coordinate with the room they are in. I would do this after sticking them all together but BEFORE sticking on the maps. I recommend acrylic paint and letting it dry very very well before any gluing.
As always I would love to see any examples that people make and the letters and shapes can be found at www.inf.co.uk