After conquering melted crayon art, I wanted to start DIY crafting, but I definitely wasn’t ready to label myself a crafter. But the calm from crafting was too alluring, and so I spent hours researching online all kinds of crafts I could make that matched my three criteria: functional, unemployed-college-grad-budget-friendly, and clumsy-crafter-approved. I wanted to make crafts that were meaningful and personal, and I even have to admit I browsed Pinterest for the very first time…and ended up with a huge bucket list of crafting.
I moved around a lot growing up and the summers we didn’t spend driving across the country from Houston to Philadelphia and back again were spent exploring different national parks or museums or notable landmarks. For years, I kept track of each state I visited by coloring them in on a small computer printout of the country, taped to my wall. As I looked online for crafts, people professing their love for certain states was a popular theme, and so, inspired by a few different crafts, I decided I wanted a framed map of the country, with pins and string to map my life’s geographic journey.
Because of the size of the frame and rustic, aged element I was looking for, I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money at a craft store for a new, large frame. Instead, I spent Friday night at the local thrift shop, and found a frame a little smaller than what I wanted, but in the right ballpark, 16″x20″, for only $4, a definite steal. That night, I printed out a National Geographic road map onto four sheets of cardstock and carefully matched up the seams, taping the backs together with minimal scotch tape.
My dad, an engineer, suggested cork or foam so that the pins would have something to hold onto firmly. But after striking out at Home Depot and Ace Hardware on Saturday, we found foam boards that could be cut to 16×20″. I didn’t think it would be too hard to find map pins, but finally found a 200-pack of the kind I wanted at Staples. At home, I glued the two foam boards together with Modge Podge and then Modge Podged the map to the boards. The Modge Podge helped seal up the seams and left no air pockets, which I thought using Elmer’s Glue might do. Just to be sure, I put books on top of the board and let it rest overnight.
Sunday, I consulted my parents and racked my memory before making a list of every place I’ve visited and the route I took to get there. Many hours of Google Mapping, contradicting reports, and false memories later, I began placing the pins on the board. After all the pins were set, I then took the red string, and tied it from pin to pin, tracing the routes of my travels. When it was finished, I popped the board back into the frame and voici! This map has be to one of the most personal crafts I’ve made.
And my favorite part about it? It’ll grow with me. As I move and travel, I’ll be able to update it as I go, adding new pins, new pieces of string, new memories.