Arts & Crafts

How to Kinda Do a Map Craft

Please allow me to preface this post with telling you guys up front that I am NOT a crafty person. I’ll never be one of those girls who actually makes all the DIY projects she pins on Pinterest.

Example number one: A couple months ago, I was trying to help Adam set up his new apartment and thought that I would surprise him by hanging up a few of his prints (Adam is an amazing artist!) to help him get settled. Long story short, I actually hammered a SCREW in the wall instead of a nail. I didn’t know it until Adam got home from work and I said, “ta-dah!”, anxious to show off my hard work and score some girlfriend brownie points. I don’t know if I have ever heard Adam laugh louder. When he told me what I did, I started laughing hard, too, and soon both of us were doubled over with tears in our eyes.

Example number two: Last week I had the urge to make a little map craft with the three dollar vintage print I picked up at the ferry building the other week. My friend Morgan (who is very crafty) instructed me to go to the craft store and get some glue and varnish so I could adhere the print to a canvas and make it look all glossy and nice. It sounded like a plan to me so I headed over to Michael’s and as soon as I walked in I asked the sales girl “what aisle the hodge podge was on”. She just stared at me for a moment before asking, “the MOD podge you mean?” Yes…I do mean that. Thank you very much.

You might chalk this all up to dumb blonde moments, but I just wasn’t blessed with the gene for arts & crafts. I can bake you bread, take pretty food photos and write a book but I can’t make a simple craft.

However, I really have the desire to learn to be craftier!! I’d love to learn how to sew a pillow for the couch, make a pallet coffee table or craft my own kitchen chalkboard. I get a subscription to Martha Stewart with the hope that if I read enough about crafts, one day I’ll be good at them.

So, all that being said, allow me to give you the low-down on my most recent craft endeavor. To do this you’ll need an inexpensive print (vintage wrapping paper is fun!), a piece of canvas roughly the same size as the print, a bottle of gloss varnish, some spray glue, a brush, thumbtacks and a hammer. Like I said, I found this piece of vintage map wrapping paper for only three dollars the other week!

The girl at Michael’s (the same one that gave me the funny look and politely corrected my hodge/mod podge error) recommended I use this “spray mount” glue after I told her what exactly I wanted to do. Honestly, I don’t know if it was the best choice. You guys probably know better than I do what kind of glue it takes to adhere a piece of wrapping paper to canvas, but this glue didn’t work so well and left me with lots of air bubble….which I’ll get to later.

Anyway, after you adhere your paper to the canvas, fold over the sides like you are wrapping a present and stick the tacks in to hold it in place. I found it helpful to actually hammer those suckers in.

Now, paint your gloss varnish all over the print. This, friends, is when my trouble started. As soon as I touched the varnish to the print, all these air bubbles popped up! So very frustrating. I’m blaming the glue.

Regardless of the air bubbles (since I am OCD, I actually ended up removing the tacks with a butter knife after the varnish dried then smoothing out the print and re-tacking it so less bubbles existed), I really liked this gloss varnish stuff! It gave my print an almost laminated look and feel.

What else can I varnish?!?! I’m on a roll and there’s no stopping now!

Below you see the final craft product drying in the sun on the side of my house. Honestly, I got incredibly frustrated mid-way through and almost quit (again…the air bubbles), but then I thought about how I spent thirty dollars on all my materials and I wasn’t going to let that go to waste. I wanted to write the perfect “DIY blog post” like some other bloggers do that I admire. However, I realized that I am not perfect….and maybe the air bubbles on my print just make it look all the more rustic? Seriously though, projects like this humble me.

And I am totally forcing Adam to hang this canvas art in his new apartment whether he likes it or not.

The End.

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  • Alysa (InspiredRD)
    June 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I always use the word “rustic” to describe my pies. It totally works with crafty stuff too 🙂 Love it!

  • Kristin
    June 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Haha, I love it. I love being crafty but I’m also really, really impatient. It’s hard for me to embark on projects that I can’t finish in one sitting! Love that though, so cute.

  • Deirdre @ Oh Well Whatever
    June 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Fun idea! You could collage in some of your favorite photos from that pace too!

  • Jamie @ StudioEats
    June 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Cute idea! Love the story about the screw…. I would definitely do something like that.

  • Samantha
    June 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I think you did a great job!!! I’m not crafty either I was just at the craft store today because I’m going to try to make this : if it kills me, it just looks so easy then when you try to do these things it’s just too hard…. I don’t get it?

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    June 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I am not crafty at all, so this gives me hope! I love the map – I have had a similar idea too actually! I just haven’t DONE it haha.

  • Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    June 21, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I LOVE old vintage maps. They are an obsession of mine. I am currently look for a giant one to frame and hang over our bar… Fingers crossed I find a cool one soon!

  • Maryz
    June 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Great idea! I too am very craft challenged. My daughter always wants to do some DIY project she sees and I just can’t even get the nerve to walk into Michael’s 🙁

  • jenna
    June 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    this looks like a good idea! your blonde moments crack me up!

  • Cait's Plate
    June 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Ahahaha – I loved this post. I am definitely in the same boat as you with the arts and crafts. I so desperately want to be crafty…but I’m just not. Love this idea though – my boyfriend is a map fanatic so this could make a great affordable gift for him!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    June 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Can you come over the do arts and crafts with my kindergartener, please! 🙂 That will give me more time to make a mess in the kitchen. Lol

    Cute map!

  • Scargosun
    June 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Absolutely LOVE this! I am totally borrowing this idea.

  • Urban Wife
    June 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Jenna, that looks great especially since you don’t consider yourself “crafty”. Your mod podge story did crack me up, I gotta say. 😉

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}
    June 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    This is awesome Jenna. I too am not a crafter… but this I could so do! Well done friend!

  • Katie Heddleston
    June 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Ohh I think this is a great idea!

  • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama
    June 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Two thumbs up!

  • Katie
    June 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    This is such a great idea! You did awesome with the hodge podge haha 🙂

  • Kerri
    June 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    That looks pretty awesome! Well done. I can understand how frustrated you must have been when those bubbles showed up…they can be quite annoying. But good workm it looks really good.

  • B @ Crags and Veggies
    June 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Beautiful and unique wall hanging! I can’t wait to try this, maybe as a gift? Awesome idea!

  • Jen
    June 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I had a total laugh out loud moment (because that sounds like something I would do!) and I so needed that today! Love your blog! I think it turned out great!

  • Full-Flavored Life
    June 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    So cute!! Love it!

  • Danielle
    June 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve tried scrap booking, photography, drawing, painting, small building projects etc……I’m an impatient, perfectionist who can’t stay focused on one thing for very long. That is, except a good book!

    And to prove my lack of craftiness…..I’m about to google “Mod Podge” cause I have no clue what that is. I do adore maps and globes though! I would love to decorate with some old maps!

  • Lisa
    June 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    HAHAHA! You are hilarious! A couple of my friends were doing a craft I got roped in to helping and while they were discussing it I was totally lost…they kept saying Mod- Podge and I can remember by the end I was so annoyed because I had no idea what it was and didn’t want to ask so I just went with it! lol
    Please let us know if Adam hangs that! 🙂 Great idea srsly!!!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    June 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Okay I seriously laughed out loud for a few minutes about the “hodge podge” instead of MOD podge.Oh my gosh. Thank you.

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf
    June 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Haha! My mom uses mod podge religiously in her scrapbooking. SHE is a very crafty person! She has a special roller to smooth out air bubbles!

  • Michelle
    June 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I’m trying to become craftier too! Having a wedding helps, I’m being forced to do DIY. Sometimes I blog about it, sometimes I don’t.

  • laura
    June 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    i am useless, the prints in my bedroom are sitting on screw … that i hammered in. i tweets about it and quickly realised i had done something wrong.
    i put it down to being female.

  • The Blissful Baker
    June 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    This is a super cute and fun idea! Thanks for sharing!

    Check out my latest recipe @

  • Marina@ Picnic at Marina
    June 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Great art, we make it from the maps of the places we really-really love! 🙂

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    June 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Oh Jenna, you are just so funny! I love your humour.
    This map is so fun. Great DIY.

  • Sarah
    June 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    He’s gonna love it! (even if you have to force him) 😉

  • jenna k
    June 22, 2012 at 6:19 am

    i love this! i’m applying to a million different med schools right now, and it would be so fun to make one of these of knoxville (where i’ve lived the last five years) for my place in my next city. plus i am weirdly obsessed with maps 🙂

    • jenna k
      June 22, 2012 at 6:20 am

      ps, i totally thought it was modGE podge until just now.

  • Caroline L.
    June 22, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Definitely not a craft person, but this seems like an easy enough project for me not to screw up (pun intended ;))!

  • Kim
    June 22, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I’m not very crafty either but I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while now. We have a large wall in our living room with nothing on it and I’ve been searching everywhere for something to hang there. Everything is just too expensive! This is a great idea though that won’t cost me too much money so thank you!

  • Susan A.
    June 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

    If the bubbles really bother you, you can actually fix ’em! Just take an xacto knife or a thin razor blade and slice down the bubble and it will lay flat. Then put a little varnish (any excuse to use it right?) over it to seal it and there ya go! One edge may overlap just a tad, but that’s ok (probably won’t be able to notice it at all unless you’re realllly up close).

  • Susan A.
    June 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

    And by slice I mean just cut a slat into the bubble*

  • Kacia
    June 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    you’re totally crafty!! can you make me one!?

  • Fancy
    June 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

    This is beautiful Jenna!

  • Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables
    June 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

    oh no, I’m terrible at crafts too but I Soooooo want to be crafty. You did a great job!

  • Liz@The Intrepid French Learner
    June 26, 2012 at 9:03 am

    I don’t know how I missed this one.

    I have a huge obsession with maps. I am sort of coveting the huge wall-size world map canvas that IKEA sells, but I don’t know if I can justify the price.

    I would say the air bubbles which popped up are probably from a combination of the glue and the “varnish.” If the varnish is water-based (more like acrylic gel medium, which I believe describes mod podge) then you might have gotten bubbles from the varnish itself. Sometimes paper and products like that don’t really mix… the paper starts to pucker if they’re large sheets. And, if the paper starts to pucker AND it is adhered to a backing… and worse if it is adhered with a glue with a different base than the varnish (let’s say, oil-based versus water-based) then you can have a huge mess! But it looks like you salvaged it.

    Anyway, you’ve inspired me to try some map crafts!

  • kim
    June 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I TOTALLY have a wrapping paper vintage map at home, waiting for me to figure out what I want to do with it! THIS IS IT! Thanks for the awesome idea (and the heads-up about air bubbles, appropriate glue, and gloves). I think you made a mighty fine crafty blog post 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    June 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    ok, this totally looks SO GOOD. i can’t do crafts to save my life, mainly because i have the patience of a toddler. but this is really cute. i want to do one! ok… enough with my comment binge.

  • Emily
    June 29, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Um, I may be with you on the screw-as-a-nail thing.

    Le sigh, that print makes me homesick for the city!

  • Kim
    July 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I love this! I am not very crafty either, but my fiance and I just made a DIY headboard for when we’re married by wrapping it over a giant frame and staple gunning it in place. It totally looks like an embroidered canvas, but it took no time at all.

    Can’t wait to see all the other crafts you post.

  • LeAndra
    July 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I see Susan suggested an xacto knife or a razor blade to remove the air from the bubble. I’ve also used a straight pin to prick the edge of the bubble so the air can get out. Thanks for sharing!

  • edith
    July 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    make sure you hang it there using a screw! 🙂 its really cute!

    • jenna
      July 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      LOL! 😉

  • Chicken Tortellini Soup
    February 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    […] I’ll have to let y’all know how that turns out. I don’t have the best record with DIY projects but there are a few I’d love to do for the wedding, so I’m trying to train myself to be […]