Proper Map Art

Map Art

I love maps.  I love using maps in my scrapbooks.  I love love love map art.

There’s just one problem: I get really irked at “incorrect” map art.  The majority for sale are missing Antarctica.

Call it an #AntracticaTravelerProblem, but if you’ve been there you know it’s not a footnote.  Looking at map art, I’m sad artists leave it out.  I’m sad and kind of ticked because I’ll never be able to look at map art the same way again.

Mr. P, the geographer, once asked me for a map shirt similar to what Sheldon Cooper wears on the Big Bang Theory.  Sheldon’s shirt doesn’t include Antarctica!  I had to hunt and find a correct one (you can find it here).

Here’s some great “proper” map art I found on Etsy!

Map Art

Animal Map of the World

Map Art

Pallet Board World Map

Map Art

Custom Duvet Cover

Map Art

World Map Wall Decal

Map Art

Watercolor World Map Print

Which is your favorite?  I love them all!

Maps in Scrapbooks

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

My summer wanderlust is in full swing even though I’ve already taken my summer vacation!  One of my favorite things to save for from my travels are maps.  You can check out how I turned maps from our travels into coasters here.

There are lots of cool ways to include maps in a scrapbook!

Keep it Whole

If you’re really attached to the map, include the whole thing so it can be folded out and looked at, like I did with this map of 17-Mile Drive in Monterey.

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

Cut it Up

If you aren’t attached to the whole map, or only want to feature part of it, cut it up!

I cut up pieces of the park map for my Yosemite scrapbook layout — still one of my favorite pages ever.

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

I took two different maps from our honeymoon and cut them the same size as other ephemera and photos to make everything meld together:

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

Don’t Have a Map?  Print One.

What if you want to add a map but you didn’t bring one home?  Print one!  Check out here for instructions on how to print Google Maps for your scrapbook.  I used a Google Map below for when we moved to a new apartment.

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

Don’t forget to check out transit agency websites.  They sometimes have really cool printable PDFs.  Below, I used a square I printed from a Manhattan Bus map.

Maps in Scrapbooks by Natalie Parker

Do you collect maps when you travel?  What do you use them for?

Crafting with Transit Maps

I posted earlier about making coasters out of old maps. Two of the coasters weren’t “old” maps at all: I printed transit maps.

Crafts using transit maps look so cool and colorful. You don’t actually need to visit the city to get one! Most major transportation agencies post color route maps online. All you need is a color printer.

You don’t need special paper, the New York bus map above is printed on regular printer paper.

Download Your Own Transit Maps:

Don’t see yours listed here? Just Google the city and “transit map” to get to the transit authority for your area.

Coasters of New York Bus system and Washington Metro system.

Speaking of the Washington DC Metro, Gaby from Give a Hoot used the Metro map to create this awesome piece of art:

Happy crafting!

Map Coasters and Memories

Picture this: new home, new coffee table. What’s missing? New coasters.

Yes, coasters, very important.

I saw lots of fun coaster tutorials online, but was really struck by these map coasters I saw from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Being me, I couldn’t just use any old map. No, I live for making things more difficult. I decided to use special maps, i.e. maps I had saved from past travels. They were in the closet anyway and free.

It ended up being pretty fun. The husband and I picked out our favorites together which included something from our first trip together, our honeymoon, and several other happy vacations.


You will need:

  • Coasters to be covered. Anything coaster-shaped would also work well.
  • Maps
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Spray enamel

These can be made in any shape using any coasters you can find. I found these monogram coasters in the dollar bin at Michael’s and bought a bunch.

Map Coasters 3

Assembly Line

Start by tracing the coaster shape onto your maps and cutting them out.

Take a moment to lay the piece on top of the coaster and trim off bits of excess as necessary.

Map Coasters 4

Using Mod Podge, glue the shapes to the coasters. I used Hard Coat Mod Podge because I wanted the coasters to be durable.

Important note: spread the Mod Podge on the coaster, then press the shape down. If you put the Mod Podge on the shape first, there is a greater chance of bubbles forming and paper curling.

Map Coasters 5

Using this method, you have a lot more control placing the shape on the coaster.

Map Coasters 6

Leave the coasters to dry for at least an hour. Then apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the top of each coaster. Let that dry for 20 minutes, then add a second coat.

Let these sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Map Coasters 7

Bringing in Reinforcements

I checked with Amy at Mod Podge Rocks to see if two coats of Mod Podge would make the coasters durable enough. She suggested adding a layer of spray enamel to ensure absolute waterproofing.

Spray enamel is like clear spray paint and can be found pretty cheap at the hardware store.

Spray your coasters using the same sensibility you would to spray paint something: stay at least a foot away and use an even hand or else the spray will puddle up on the coaster.

They’ll dry to the touch in an hour and you can pick them up and bring them inside.  Let these dry for a day inside (to be on the safe side).

Map Coasters 8

Durability Testing

I had to be sure with this. I set an icy drink on one of the coasters for several hours. Victory! They are indeed waterproof.

Map Coasters 13


Bowing – If the coasters are thin, they may bow after you glue the shapes to them. Set the coasters under a pile of heavy books for a couple of days and they will return to flatness.

Bubbles – Even when I had smoothed the shape out while gluing, sometimes I would return to find a bubble or two after they had dried. Don’t sweat it. The bubbles mysteriously went away after I added the top coats of Mod Podge.

Trimming – If the shape hangs slightly over the edge of the coaster, trim it before gluing. I’ve not had success trying to press or glue down any overhanging paper onto the sides of the coaster.

When in doubt, leave it alone and don’t touch it. Instead of trying to fix the bubbles, I left them alone and went on with the project. They disappeared and I’m glad I didn’t try something drastic. I sprayed one of the coasters with too much enamel and it looked cloudy when wet. I tried, unsuccessfully, to wipe some of the wet enamel off. Bad decision. It ended up looking okay, but really, leave it alone and it will probably turn out okay!

Tips & Ideas

  • Use any map you have lying around.
  • You don’t have to over complicate it like I did by using special maps.
  • Coasters can be found pretty cheaply – look for cheap seasonal coasters at the store.
  • Glue the shapes to the coasters by spreading Mod Podge on the coaster and then placing the shape (not the other way around).
  • Make sure to use spray enamel (like clear spray paint) to water proof the coasters.