I am always on the lookout for my next big project and I am not ashamed to tell you that I often steal my ideas from the millions of ideas floating out there on the internet. It may not be direct theft, but I do hunt for inspiration and then I try to either put my own spin on a project or try to figure out how I could achieve a similar result without the benefit of a diy. Such was the case with this cool, oversized map from Pottery Barn.
I love Pottery Barn, and I really love when they feature a project that features pallet wood. I could make that!
OK, they probably didn’t use pallet wood, but they could have. This planked Manhattan sign (also available for Chicago) is a true statement piece. It measures 8 feet long and 2 feet high! I just need to find myself a map.
Finding a map with high enough pixels is a challenge unto itself. There are tons of vintage maps out there but blowing a map up to 8 feet would reduce most of them to just dots.
To narrow down your search, Google “Vintage (insert random city name here)map”. Use the “Images” button and the “Search Tool” button. Under search tool, press “Size” and “Larger than”. You’ll want the best map with the most pixels.
This New York map is from 1855. Harlem is spelled Haerlem, and Manhatten, is Manhattenville. The Hudson River is also known as the North River. Central Park has not been created yet.
You can find this map at Wikimedia Commons here. Download the file with the most pixels. This map is an amazing 7000 x 4217 pixels. You can even read this map when enlarged to 8 feet long, it really is that big.
I have another source of maps for you, The New York Public Library open access maps division. They have been downloading maps for 15 years and offer them for free with no copyright protection. It’s definitely worth a look.
One more hint before you go on your search…The Library of Congress also has a collection of maps.
While I only took a slice of the map, like my inspiration piece, but you could blow up the whole map and cover your entire wall. Now that would be a statement piece!
You’ve found your map. If it needs editing, edit it with your favorite photo editing software. You may not be able to tell, but I made the lettering slightly darker.
Now import your map into another piece of software that allows you to make any custom sized page size. For 8 foot by 2 foot, the custom page size will be 96″ x 24″. I use Microsoft Publisher all the time because I can make any sized sign imaginable. Does anyone know of any other programs that allow you to do the same thing?
I left a piece of the page sticking out underneath the map so you can see how the map is centered on my custom sized page.
To see how the map will actually print out, do a print preview before printing. The map prints out on 27 sheets of paper.
And each of those 27 sheets of paper need to be trimmed before making your map.
Select your pallet. This pallet measured four feet long, so in order to get 2, 2 foot lengths from every board, I needed to use every inch. No splitting of any board was allowed, if at all possible. For this project you’ll want to use pallet wood that is as close to the same thickness as you can.
You could also use new wood and then you wouldn’t have to worry about varying thicknesses.
Normally, when I take apart a pallet, I’ll run a circular saw down each of the side rails (or stretchers) and that gets rid of two thirds of my nails right off the bat. Prying the boards off of this particular pallet was out of the question; these boards would rather split than come off their rail quietly. A reciprocating saw or sawzall was the only way to go. A reciprocating saw cuts the nail in half.
Before attacking the pallet with the sawzall, I ran a palm sander over the boards to get rid of all the fuzzy splinters.
The boards were finally freed and cut into 24″ sections.
Because I wanted a dark shadow between my boards, this was as good a time as any to stain the sides a dark walnut. The stain was just painted on and rubbed off.
Lay out your boards into 4, 24 inch squares.
I suggest doing test boards to see how the modpodge will react to your ink and paper. Some people have suggested getting laser copies at a copier center when using modpodge. That is up to you, my test boards went surprisingly well so I ended up just printing my map on my inkjet printer.
If you have problems with smudging of ink for this project or any other modpodge project, I’m going to refer you over to this post at Piddix, for lots of tips and tricks for preventing smudging when using an inkjet printer.
When you finish trimming, lay out your puzzle pieces on your pallet wood cutting the edge pieces when they go onto the next panel.
Start modpodging, starting from one corner and working your way out. Coat the pallet wood with a layer of modpodge then gently lay your map piece of top, smooth, and repeat. Finish off with a layer of modpodge on top.
I used the full sheets of copy paper over top of multiple pieces of pallet. When dry, a sharp razor blade inserted between the pallet pieces separated the pallets.
The pallet pieces are attached with two more pieces of pallet wood, nailed to the back.
After the modpodge was dry, I coated the entire piece with a layer of antiquing wax. Now it looks more like an aged map.
For a print out this size, this map has an amazing amount of detail.
This is one of the 2 foot sections.
My pictures don’t do this project justice. The detail turned out far better than I imagined it would.
Have a great week and stay inspired.
I was featured at