A Cartographic Love Story.

Are you intrigued?

thousand islands

You should be. This may be my favorite creation to date.

I just hope none of you are lactose intolerant because this post is the cheesiest, with a side of extra cheese.

It started as a series of Pinspirational ideas, followed by a moment of clarity, interrupted by several shiny objects, the sudden need to re-read all of the Harry Potter books and then most likely  definitely some (okay, okay) a lot of food. After a nap some refocusing, this eventually developed into something quite lovely. Alright, enough chit chat, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

The Pinspiration:

Came from two different places,  you can click on the picture if you’d like to check out the original posts.

First off, that pesky Martha!

The point of this project is to highlight a trip you’ve taken by embroidering the route onto a printed map, clever girl.

Second up, another crafty blogger, Queen B- Creative Me, framed map cut-outs with significant pinpoints to highlight the history of a relationship. Also, very clever.

Somehow I got the crazy idea to combine the two. Being in a long distance relationship for the better part of a decade, a lot of traveling is done, a lot of distance is covered. The route becomes routine, it becomes familiar, it strangely becomes a part of you. I wanted to celebrate our roots, our distances and our history… and it needed to all fit on one map.

This, by the way, was the most frustrating part of the project.

I’m sure it would’ve been pretty stinkin’ easy to go to a store and by a map. But what are the chances I could find a map that expanded from Scotia, New York to Port Elgin, Ontario AND that it would fit perfectly onto my canvas (16″x 24″)? I don’t know… maybe the chances were good, I’m not a gambling woman so I guess I can’t really say. What I can say, however, is that it would’ve cost me money, and it just so happens that this project was free, baby, because I already had everything I needed in my trusty craft corner. Anyway, I decided to Google Map this thing and print it out myself. Only took three tries printing it out, cutting and taping the pieces together to get the size right (I did mention this was the most frustrating part, right?).

Success! With some markers, I traced over the outlines of the significant lakes and rivers (there are literally hundreds, I didn’t feel the need to get too detailed, so sue me), states and important towns or cities on the map. This is a step that may be unnecessary if you have normal printer paper to print your map out on. You see, I only had this bear paper, which is super cute, but not perfect if you’re trying to trace though, which was the next step of my process. The marker just made the lines easier to see.

Hi bears! I taped the map to a window and traced over my marker outline with a pencil. This is a trace and transfer technique that I used while making the jewelry holders. There is possibly (?) an easier way to transfer an image like this to a canvas. This way requires a fair amount of work and in a piece this size, results in some hand cramping, but this method has worked for me for years, so I’m sticking with it. You want to make sure your pencil marks are dark and heavy, they’ll need to transfer onto the canvas and if your marks are too light they won’t.

I centered and taped the map back onto the canvas with the pencil side down. Now  you want to rub over the paper in the places you traced with the pencil.

Make sure you put a book underneath the canvas so you don’t poke through it. You can use anything to rub, this time I used a marker, I’d suggest something rounded to make sure you don’t poke through. It worked quite well, check it out…

You may say, “That is cheating, you’re just tracing it!”.  I may say, “Shut up jerk, you try drawing this map by hand! Ain’t nobody got time for that.” And then you may actually be able to draw this map by hand and then you may show me and say, “Who’s the jerk now, jerk?” and to that I may dramatically say, “Oh my god… it’s me. It’s always been me. I’m the jerk.”.

Again, not a gambler, I’m really unsure of the chances of that happening.

Now’s the fun part: coloring it in! I originally thought I’d go for a more cartoony-type look. Typically, no matter how realistic I try to make my art, it always comes out cartoony. I started out that way, but then when I started to fill in the land it turned out I was making it more realistic than I had intended.

Basic background.

Add in some green. I used the scrubbing, bristly side of a sponge to get the textured look.


And highlights.

Halfway point! That’s right friends, we’re not done yet! Now’s the fun part! (You:But wait, didn’t you already say the fun part was coloring it in?” Me: “Can you just cut me a break, already?”).  This is the part where you get to bring a new dimension to your art, by making it personal.

I just used regular old thread that came in a basic sewing kit I bought ages ago. Pretty much any size needle will do, just make sure you don’t go so big you leave gaping holes in your map.

I embroidered different symbols around the map to signify distinct places or events in our history.

Stars for our hometowns, a heart for the place we met and subsequently fell in love (It’s okay to roll your eyes, go on… do it.  I’m fully aware of the cheese factor in this project- also it only gets worse from here.).

A diamond ring for the place we got engaged- which, by the way, was on the border of our two countries- how appropriate is that?

Of course we have (wait for it) two rings for the place we got married.

Lastly, the places we’ve cohabited and the routes it took to get to each location are embroidered throughout the map.

The full view…

I’m really happy with the way this came out. And I’m sure he’ll be embarrassed for me leaking this info, but Tyler even liked it. He actually suggested making the embroideries bigger and brighter because when I first did it I used duller colored thread and had the symbols a bit smaller. I was surprised, originally thinking that he’d appreciate the subtlety of it, but I’m glad he said it and I changed it, because I really love it.

What about your story? Does it cross towns? States? Countries? Oceans?

How far would your map expand?

Submitted for the Pinterest Inspired Challenge at The CSI Project!

csi project

Posted in DIY

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