Monthly Archives: November 2013

Eleven Travel Souvenir Ideas Based on Maps

Working on blog posts is a bit like ambling around a new destination. Start in one direction, keep your eyes open and soon you’ll find yourself among unexpected delights. I was putting together a post on Amsterdam’s canal houses, which grew into a larger research effort. In doing the research, I looked at old maps of the city, which led me to a surprising array of items made using maps.

Map of Amsterdam by cartographer J Blaeu, 1649.

Map of Amsterdam by cartographer J. Blaeu, 1649.

Antique, vintage and reproduction maps make great travel souvenirs. Not when tucked away in drawers, but when put on display, or turned into fun and useful items. Here are some of the ideas that I came across, along with one item that I quickly made myself.1 - 9 Handcrafted
With the holiday season coming up, these items could make wonderful gifts for the traveller or want-to-be traveller on your list. Or perhaps as bon voyage or welcome home gifts.1 2 3

  1. DIY magnetic board covered with a vintage map. This easy-to-do project is by graphic designer Michael Jon Watt. The instructions are via Apartment Therapy.
  2. Drawer pulls or cabinet knobs created by Kristy and Matt of Daisy Mae Designs. Use a different destination for each drawer or cabinet. In addition to the knobs, you’ll find a variety of other items in this Etsy shop, from cuff links to wine stoppers, that incorporate original vintage maps.
  3. Certified organic cotton cushion cover printed with a map of Amsterdam. Created by Cath of My Bearded Pigeon. Cath is an Etsy featured seller, you can read an interview with her here.4 5 6
  4. Canal-house shaped cushions in cotton printed with maps of Amsterdam from the Fanatica Barcelona Etsy shop. Shown is a set of three different gable styles, single cushions are also available.
  5. DIY six-sided block puzzle using old maps, as seen on a blog here. For inspiration only as no instructions are available via the link.
  6. My own 20-minute DIY project, a map-covered box. Mini-instructions are at the end of the post. I’m using this box to store paper clips. Larger boxes could be covered with actual maps.7 8 9
  7. Custom-made photo album created by Ali Manning of Vintage Page Designs. Ali also creates travel and other journals which she will personalize for you.
  8. Handcrafted coasters made by Jonathon Wayne Sopotiuk, an artist and designer studying at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. The coasters shown display a map of The Netherlands. Coasters showing many other destinations along with custom options are available through his Etsy shop (click through link provided on his name).
  9. DIY decoupaged glass trays. You can find instructions here, the image that I used is from here. If you aren’t a DIYer, search Etsy for handcrafted ones.

10 Framed Maps Banner
Maps on Floating ShelvesFramed antique and vintage maps of places you’ve visited or are on your wish list would make a wonderful art collection. A relatively low-cost version would be to frame reproductions using coordinating stock frames. By placing them on floating shelves, you could mix the maps in with other pieces as you add new travel destinations over the years. Or perhaps combine the maps with photographs taken while travelling.

The image is via the Majesty Maps and Prints online shop. Among their offering of reproductions are large-scale and black-out maps.

When searching for online sellers of original antique and vintage maps, I was surprised at the range of prices. At the lower end are maps taken from old atlases.
11 Folding Screen BannerMap Screen

As a DIY folding screen option, you could decoupage flat boards with a single large map cut into strips or with a collage of smaller maps. The sides and back of the boards could be painted or covered with fabric. For a more durable option, cover the decorated boards with Plexiglas, cut to size, and frame the edges with decorative moulding. The image above is also via the Majesty Maps and Prints site.

These are just some ways to keep travel memories using travel maps. What sort of travel souvenirs do you collect? Have you used maps to decorate your own home?

Steps I followed to make my map-covered box:

  • Scaled an image of an antique map of Amsterdam (more about the map in my next post) to fit on A4 paper.
  • Printed it out using a colour printer.
  • Rummaged around the house for a suitable box. An A4 sheet was the perfect size to cover the lid of an old iPhone box.
  • Used an acid-free glue stick to adhere the image to the lid. Folded and trimmed the paper on the short sides of the box.
  • To further secure the paper to the box, I ran a strip of 38mm wide binding tape (purchased from my local paper shop) around the lid edge. I placed it so that 5mm was on the outside of the lid, folded the tape over and adhered the rest to the inside.
  • Added pull tabs to the bottom of the box, by applying two strips of binding tape to the sides of the bottom, making the tab by folding the tape back on itself. The tabs make it easier to pull the box open.
  • Gave the paper a coat of a matte lacquer to protect it.

Transformed Traditional – Studio

Decorating with upcycled and refurbished objects, once considered trendy, is now a design style.  One which I happily embrace. In my home, Victorian-era pine floor boards, saved from a long-gone St. Louis hospital, form a pedestal and discarded steam gauges are now an art installation. Sometimes a few coats of lacquer turn “old” into “new.” At other times it’s a new use. What should we call this style? It’s neither Shabby Chic nor Industrial. Perhaps Redux? At Studio, the approach to upcycling and refurbishing is a bit more radical.

Concrete Cabinet

Concrete Cabinet

Rolf works with objects that have sentimental value, but no longer fit with today’s design aesthetic. He slices, encases and reshapes them into contemporary pieces, while honouring the memories of the past. The Studio design style could be called Transformed Traditional.

Rearrangements bench. Resin with sliced balusters.

Rearrangements bench. Resin with sliced balusters.

Extended Cabinet

Extended Cabinet

Rolf began transforming things as an architect. He studied architecture and urban planning at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. In 2003, along with architect Marnix van der Meer, he founded Zecc Architecten. Among the firm’s projects are the  Water Tower of Living and Church of Living. As the names imply, these living spaces were once a water tower and a church.

His own home is the award wining The Black Pearl. Located in a revitalized neighbourhood of Rotterdam, the house, once a crumbling relic, is an outstanding transformation. From the link, you can also watch a short video (Rolf speaks Dutch in the video, even if you don’t understand Dutch, it’s interesting to watch) and take a 360 tour.

In 2009, Rolf formed Studio and now dedicates his time to designing and creating furniture and products. The photos below are of his Cutting Porcelain series. By covering the exterior and slicing the tea pot and vase apart, he reveals the simple, elegant lines of the hidden inner structures.

From the Cutting Porcelain series.

From the Cutting Porcelain series.

From the Cutting Porcelain series

From the Cutting Porcelain series

When I first saw Studio’s Concrete Cabinet (top photo) in Amsterdam at Woonbeurs 2013, it seemed familiar (minus the concrete). It reminded me of my maternal grandmother’s sewing cabinet. As a child, I adored rummaging through it. The drawers yielded bits of lace and spare buttons that I crafted into bracelets and hairbands. I asked to have the cabinet after my grandparents died. It became my daughter’s bedside table. She still has it in her home today. Although she likes it just as it is, perhaps a concrete remake is now under consideration. (Update: I’ve been assured the treasured cabinet will remain as is).

In the photo, my grandmother is wearing a silk dress created by my mom. I love seeing how my family dressed for casual strolls in the park. Perhaps not practical, but definitely chic.

Photo credits: 2, 3, 4 & 5 Studio

Sometimes, Eight Headers are Better than One

A believer in continuous learning and self-development, I signed up for an e-course on blogging. Inspired by what I learned during week one, I revamped my blog header to better reflect my developing “brand.” If you’re new to my blog, I’m an on-a-career-break-to-see-more-of-the-world finance pro who quickly launched this blog in mid-August.

While my finance role required a great deal of creative thinking – my team and I found clever solutions for and provided insights into challenging business issues, working with the limited level of resources and tight time constraints that are all too common in today’s corporate environments – as a blogger I have the freedom to be artistically creative.

I thought it would be fun to share my blog header design evolution with you. Directly below is my inspiration photograph. I’ll come back to the story behind it in a minute. As you scroll through the header iterations, I think you’ll agree that I’ve come a long way from the blurry first one.

The image below shows my first header attempt…a scribbled mess.
Header 1 Aug 2013
Re-scaled and lightened…a smidgen better.
Re-scaled again, tried to pretty it up with a deep teal border…still looks like a scribbled mess.
First major change…
New font and and more colour…
At the end of September, it looked like this…
cropped-header-faded-updated-with-new-compass-rose-in-colour3.pngThen bye-bye colour…
cropped-header-faded-updated-with-new-compass-rose-grey.pngAnd now…

My husband and I were travelling in Spain on our honeymoon when I took the photograph. It was my first visit to Spain, a country that I had long wanted to experience. Weeks after returning home, we put our home on the market, packed up the two cats (but not my live-at-home daughter who was attending university), and headed off on the first of two corporate relocations, from Toronto, Canada, to St Louis, Missouri in the United States. Then three years later, across the “pond” to Switzerland (now with three cats). Each move was life changing (a mix of pluses and minuses) for my husband, me and our family (including the furry family members).

The photo, taken at Reales Alcázares de Sevilla, shows a small section of a Flemish tapestry.  It depicts an exciting era. European led explorations of distant lands were underway. Queen Isabella I of Spain was at the Alcázares complex when she agreed to finance Columbus’ expedition to find a new route to the Indies. As we know, he bumped into the New World on that adventure. In the spirit of exploring the world, I chose this photo as the basis for my blog header.

Columbus Before the Queen. Painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Columbus Before the Queen. Painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Columbus' map, ca. 1490.

Columbus’ map, ca. 1490.

My “header” experience involved learning how to use GIMP and Inkscape, which are open-source illustration and graphics tools. I sliced and reversed the tapestry, re-scaled it, played with colour, fonts, the layout and re-drew and re-positioned the all-important compass rose four times. In my latest header re-do, I used CSS code for the first time to modify the header and menu bar.

As for my choice of the style and colour palette…at times, the world is a difficult and dark place. Hence, the Gothic styling and dark background. However, one finds incredible brightness in that darkness. Beauty, synchronicity, multiculturalism and connectivity are what I post about. They form the bright and colourful content; the beauty that I encourage you to bring home.

Will this be the final header? Stay tuned.

Image credits above: top photo and header graphics: Sara Lynne Moffatt, all others via Wikipedia.