maps

Mapping a Marriage

Valentines book from Kates Creative Space

Full of romance and good intention, I turned to my husband last month and described my plans for celebrating our milestone tenth wedding anniversary this summer.

‘That’s great’ he said.  ’Except it’ll actually be nine years’.

I was never good on detail.  High on enthusiasm; rather loose on the specifics.

But still, for this Valentine’s day I have a plan; a book that maps the eight-and-half-years of our marriage through the adventures we’ve had and the places we’ve been together.  When we married I promised that we would continue to explore the world; that whatever tide of real life and responsibilites consumed us, we’d keep on moving and travelling and experiencing new things.  And for the most part, we have.

This magical website lets you type in any place in the world and then translates it into a beautiful watercolour map that you can download and use; I found our favourite and most memorable places, printed them onto watercolour paper and bound them together in a book.  Each page comes without clues (he prides himself on his geographical knowledge; this is a challenge he will seize..), but on the back are notes and memories and photos from each trip.  I started with the Isle of Capri..

Isle of Capri in watercolour

It was the first place we went to together, staying out of season in November in the Capri Palace hotel, enjoying late autumn sunshine and then sitting wrapped in blankets in the village square at night, drinking wine with the locals. It was, in a sense, where we began.

Then later Cape Town, where we honeymooned; a more identifiable harbour for this seasoned cartographer to spot…

Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 20.47.36

There are twelve maps in total in the book, ending with Sydney, our latest great adventure;

Sydney Habour watercolour map

And here’s how I made it…

DIY Valentines Map Book

You’ll need;

  • Two sheets of greyboard or other strong cardboard
  • Decorative paper for the covers and inside leaves of the book
  • A length of ribbon or bookbinding fabric to make your spine and cover the edges of the boards, binding them together
  • Your printed sheets; I used 300gsm paper to look like actual watercolour paintings
  • Linen-backed paper tape to attach the pages
  • I added a love letter to the inside leaf of the book, and a large button to the front to hold the book together

Stitched button map book

The detailed instructions are below if you want to give this a go; it took me two evenings, three cups of tea and two glasses of wine.  Also a deep paper cut on my index finger.  It was worth it.

But if you do nothing else, have a play at making beautiful maps online (your home town! Your next holiday destination! Anywhere….)

Have a wonderful week.

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DIY Valentines book of all the places youve visited together

 

Making the book, step by step;

  1. Mix a cup of white glue and water, using 1 part glue to two parts water.
  2. Cut your decorative paper so that it is 1 inch greater in size all round than your greyboard.  These are the margins that you’ll fold over the board.
  3. Paste the paper thoroughly on the reverse side, and lay each board carefully in place; fold over the edges of the paper so that they are glued in place, and then place a sheet of parchment/baking paper over the top before weighting down the covered cardboard to dry (use heavy books for this).  The parchment paper will stop the cardboard from sticking to the books as it dries.  Don’t skip this step; without weighting, the glue will curl the cardboard and you’ll end up with bowed covers.  This is a good time for the first cup of tea / glass of wine.
  4. Once your boards are throughly dry, lay them alongside each other, ‘good’ side up, so that they are like the open covers of a book.  Leaving a space of 1 inch between them; glue a 2 inch-wide length of fabric or ribbon so that it adheres to each board and binds them together.  Turn the book cover over, and paste another sheet of decorative paper to the inside, hiding the pasted edges of the covers (see my picture 2 in the montage above, where one side is decorated and one side still bare and uncovered).
  5. Whilst this is drying, print out your pages and order them carefully, practising flipping through them to make sure you have them facing the right way (it’s surprisingly easy to get them back to front).
  6. Using strips of linen tape, stick the pages together.  This tape is helpfully marked down the centre with stitching so that you can get your seams absolutely straight.
  7. Then – and you’re almost done now – use strong decorative tape to tape your bound pages into the book covers.  I used navy-blue constellation patterned tape which contrasted nicely with the sea colours of the paper (see pic above).
  8. Finally, just to show off, use a punch or bradawl to make two tiny holes in the cover and stitch a button in place (don’t even think of trying to force a needle through the greyboard without pre-made holes; it will end in disaster and stab wounds…).  Inside the back cover, glue or thread a length of ribbon that you can wind around the button to hold the covers closed.
  9. Congratulate yourself on navigating my impenetrable instructions, and present the finished book to your lover, emphasising just how much effort has gone into it.
  10. Be showered with adoration as a result.

The Cartographer’s Guide to Dress-Making

Paper Dress made from maps

I live in a small village which is blessed with not one but three – three – second-hand bookshops.  Amongst the shelves of nearly-new thrillers and bodice-rippers, travel guides and cookbooks there is a large, open-fronted cupboard marked ‘Ephemera: Misc’.  It’s here I gravitate towards and where I’ve found a myriad of wild and wonderful books, maps, charts and music scores over the years which have steadily formed a small paper drift in my studio, waiting for inspiration to strike.

One of my recent buys was this Collins Graphic Atlas; I’ve no idea of the age but it was certainly pre-decimalisation, given the princely sum of 5 shillings…

Vintage map book

It had pages and pages of beautiful old maps and charts of the constellations in each hemisphere (I think I’ll frame these two as a set; I can’t bear to cut them up..)

Map book

 

Inspired by amazing paper dresses like these, I decided to have a go at making a piece of art for my friend’s newborn daughter to hang in her nursery.  Armed with scissors, a bone folder and  - of course – a nutritional glass of wine, I set about playing with ideas and choosing the loveliest and most interesting maps.

The hardest bit was working out how to create a pleated dress shape.  It took me several false starts to think it through (use rough paper till you get the hang of it), but eventually; ta-da!! the perfect concertina box pleat;

Dress making with vintage maps

To save you the brain strain I experienced, here’s a guide below for how to make a box fold.  Essentially, you need to measure out and mark up your map or paper with alternate widths of 2cm/1cm, and then score them lightly using a bone folder to make folding easier.  The grey dotted lines below indicate where you fold the paper inwards to make an inverted fold; the red lines show where you fold away from you to build up the raised pleat areas.  Once you have made your box pleats, flatten the top end and gently spread out the bottom edges to create a fan effect like in the picture above.  Give it a whirl..

How to make a box pleat

Once the dress shape is made, the rest is fun and just needs imagination and a bit of playing around.  I made lapels for the dress using the edges of a map, folding carefully to match the borders, and using a punch to cut out a large decorative button (this can also cover a multitude of sins when you’re sticking it all together)

Assembling a paper dress

As you see above, I made little puffed cap sleeves by cutting semi-circles and lightly gathering and glueing them – but then decided later not to use them.

I assembled the dress together and then glued each part in place onto a sheet of white watercolour paper, layering it up, piece by piece.  It needed one final touch, for a tiny but determined person with the world at her feet and a life full of adventure ahead…

Matilda and her dress

And here it is!

Matilda's Map Dress

Good luck if you decide to give this a whirl; although I used my book of maps, any gift wrap, patterned or even plain paper would look good.  And do let me know how you get on…

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The brief flirtation with Spring is over

spring tableau

Another smörgåsbord post tonight, of the best bits of the past week and a few passing obsessions.  The amazing and short-lived days of Spring last week encouraged the garden to burst into premature glory; I did a sweep at dawn this morning of all the branches and blooms brought down in the gusts of overnight wind and hailstones, and rescued a few of the most beautiful buds to play with and create a spring tableau on a sheet of watercolour paper (above and below).

Paintbox flower

The weather held off long enough for us to go car-booting this morning at a local flea market; the first of the season.  Pickings were slim, but I came across a huge box of vintage British walking maps, all heavily loved and worn, and printed on beautiful linen paper…

Old maps

I scooped up all of the coastal ones (I have an abiding love affair with Cornwall and Dorset), and some of the Lake District, and am just pondering how to use them; regular readers will know that maps are something of a passion of mine, so expect to see them popping up in projects in due course.  Fellow Cartophiles (did you know that’s what we’re called?  Thank you, google..) should try typing ‘maps’ into the Boards search on Pinterest to find some lovely curated collections like this one, and this. Just beautiful.

Vintage maps

I also found an old Polaroid camera for £2 which seemed a small enough price to pay for the risk of seeing whether it worked (and whether I could source film).  I was playing with it in Starbucks afterwards and clicked the shutter only to find an old roll of film still loaded inside; it produced a ghostly black and white image which Harry thought was very cool…

polaroid

We’re keeping up the Cake in the House weekend tradition, this time with a birthday cake for visiting friends.  A four-layer fudge cake no less, with ombré sponges graduating from vanilla through to caramel and chocolate.  Sounds highly technical but proved astonishingly easy (and forgiving of this distracted and cavalier cook).  It was devoured before I could show you the inside, but the recipe and ombré picture here; I’d definitely recommend it for when you need to produce a show-stopper and impress friends who are more used to you secretly roughing-up a supermarket cake until it looks passably homemade.

4 layer fudge cake

In other news, hurrah; I’m on my travels again, albeit briefly – I have a lovely weekend planned in Amsterdam with my mum next month.  I can’t wait!  We’re staying in the Museum Quarter but beyond that have no plans as yet (other than to talk, and walk, and repeat ad infinitum). Any insider knowledge or tips would be wonderful; my only prep so far has been to track down a copy of this lovely little book which lists all the craft workshops and small ateliers where you can find a myriad of handmade things which you don’t need but you want oh-so-much.

Amsterdam map by Evelyn Henson

Map above by Evelyn Henson.

And finally something that made me smile, albeit through gritted teeth as I pulled my soaking laundry from the line whilst blinded and drenched by a storm of hailstones; isn’t this so very true?  Serves me right for being all smug and sunshiny last week ;-)

seasons-winter-comic-funny-cartoon-

Illustration by Sarah Lazarovich, via acupofjo.

Have a wonderful week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!

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