Thursday, September 19, 2013

Map Art

Who remembers that show "While You Were Out?" that aired on TLC a few years back?  The basic premise was this: an individual comes up with a reason to send a friend or family member away on a two-day trip.  While the person is gone, the While You Were Out team redecorates a room in that person's home.  When the individual returns from the trip, s/he is surprised with a brand new room. Hugs, tears, and jumps-for-joy ensue.

That show sums up our plan for J&A's new bedrooms reveal.  As many of you know, we are redecorating our twin toddlers' bedrooms for their third birthday coming up next month.   In mid-October, J&A will be staying an entire weekend at my parent's house while the Mister and I spend 48-hours painting, assembling, decorating, and accessorizing in anticipation of their return home and the big reveal.   In order to pull this two-room makeover off in one weekend, I have been working like mad behind-the-scenes to get things prepped and my most recent project has been artwork for J's room.

I posted last week about the steals I found at our local thrift stores; I was able to get seven picture frames for less than $20!  Pretty great deal if you ask me.  When searching for the frames, I didn't worry too much about the color or condition of the frames since I knew they would get a coat of spray paint.  Instead, I concentrated on finding frames that were the size I needed, made of wood, and looked fairly similar (simple, clean lines; nothing ornate).


Once I got the frames home, I began mapping out how I wanted to use each frame.  We are planning to put an Expedit bookshelf in J's room and I envisioned an art gallery wall hanging above it.  I used blue painter's tape to "draw" out the future spot of the Expedit and then placed the empty frames on the floor in front of it to lay out my gallery wall.  I finally decided on this combination:


The gallery wall is smaller than I imagined, but once I put up the blue tape I also realized that the Expedit was larger than I imagined, so I had to shrink down my plans.

Having decided the exact frames I wanted to use, I kicked the Mister out of the garage for a week to set up my spray paint station.  After emptying the frames of the glass and cardboard backing, I laid them all out on pieces of scrap wood to keep them from sticking to the plastic drop cloth once they were wet with paint.  (Lesson learned from my previous spray painting experience.)


I gave each frame a thin coat of spray paint and waited.  Once dry, another thin coat went on.  Then another.  And then another.  I think I did four or five total.


For the large frame, I picked up a map of the United States at The Paper Source for only $3.95.  It wasn't quite large enough to entirely fill the frame, so I carefully taped it onto a piece of white poster board and then placed it in the frame.  (I should add that I gave the glass that was in each frame an intense washing with my bottle of Windex.  They were super grimy.  Like you could hardly see through them because of all the build-up.  Ick.)


J already loves maps so I know he will get a kick out of this poster.  He has a plastic placemat with a map of the United States on it and he spends most of dinner each night pointing out where everyone lives.  The placemat has drawings of major city landmarks so he knows that we live at the Big Strong Tower (Space Needle), his friend Isa just moved to The Red Bridge (Golden Gate), and Pop-Pop lives at The Black Dot (which is literally just a black dot my husband added with a Sharpie since apparently there are no worthwhile landmarks in Spokane, WA).   Another great thing about a framed map is that you can use a white-board pen to mark different places on the map and then wipe it clean with a paper towel.

I created a second piece of map art using a map-making website I found via Pinterest.  You can type in any location and the website will generate a map for you.  I decided to make a map that included Seatte, Lake Washington and the surrounding ares. There are lots of map styles to choose from; my map is the "watercolor" theme.


The colors are an exact match for J's new room.  I can't believe how expensive it looks -- like a real watercolor painting -- yet it was totally free online and I printed it out using my home printer.  If you are interested in your own fancy watercolor of Lake Washington, you can download the image I created here.  Make sure to choose the 8x10 option on your printer when you go to print it out.


I still have more art to show you, but this post has become epically long -- you are a trooper if you have made it this far! -- so I'll save the rest for another day.  To be continued...

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