Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Our Family Travels — U.S. Map Peg Board "How to"

Earlier this year my friend, Sarah, asked me to host a creative workshop at her home. We decided on October for the date and I figured I'd do something centered around Halloween or a general Fall theme. But when I started brainstorming for ideas, I kept leaning towards doing something with maps. Perhaps because I love maps and have a small collection I've procured from garage sale hunting. But also because my friend Sarah and her family went on an amazing road trip across the country a few years ago. They called it, "The Ocean to Ocean Tour" and it took six weeks to drive across the country and back. They had a fabulous time and the kids learned so much! So I ditched my Halloween workshop ideas and went with a map theme. And I'm so glad I did because the Creative Workshop was a huge success!

I kept it simple and fun so all the workshop participants had to do was paint while sipping wine and reminiscing about their family travels. They learned some easy blending tricks to add dimension to their maps too! 

Love these color pallets!

This is my friend Sarah:)
All the white pins document Her family's "Ocean to Ocean" trip! Wow!

If you'd like to make one for yourself, here's what you'll need:

• 1/8" thick Wood Board (I got a sheet at Lowe's and cut it down to 12"x16")
• Wood Stain - (I used Dark Oak)
• Acrylic Paint (the cheap bottles will do ya)
• Black and Blue Sharpies (fine and medium)
Gelly Roll Pens (white, black, etc.)
Watercolor crayons (for blending)
• Q-tips
• Map Pins (at mapshop.com)
• Flag Pins (Nickel Plated Steel Dressmaker Pins 1-1/4")
• Sharp Pencils
• Transfer paper (use white or light transfer paper to show up on the dark stain)
• Downloadable Flag and Ribbon Templates available here.

STEP 1: Cut your boards  to 12" x16" or desired size. (You can ask Lowes or Home Depot to cut them for you). Sand the edges. Then stain your board to your desired wood grain. Allow to dry 24 hours or as directed.

STEP 2: Enlarge a photocopy of the U.S. Map (provided in the Flag and Ribbons Template download above) to your desired size. For a 12"x16" board, you will want the U.S. Map to be enlarged to fit on 11"x14" Legal paper. Then lay a piece of carbon/transfer paper between your board and your enlarged map and, using a sharp pencil, trace your map onto the board. Lift the carbon to check and make sure the transfer is showing up on your board.

STEP 3: Choose your color pallet for your map and start painting! I usually don't like thin acrylic paint, but in this case, I love the way the paint is absorbed into the wood allowing the wood stain to faintly show through. This creates an aged look.

STEP 4: Once you are finished painting, use watercolor crayons (dark gray, black, mustard yellow and browns) around the edges of the states. Lightly color the edges of one state. Then dampen a Q-tip and gently rub it over the the watercolor crayon marks in a circular motion. Notice how it blends like paint. You can also blend with your finger(s), if that's easier for you!

STEP 5: When you are happy with all your watercolor crayon blending, you are ready to write in the state names. I used a mix of fine Sharpies and Gelly Roll Pens when labeling.

STEP 6:  Add your title Ribbon using the Downloadable Ribbon template I provided. Cut out your preferred ribbon size and trace it onto the board. Then paint, shade and add your map title.

STEP 7: Use the Downloadable Flag Pins template to create your own map flags. Directions for these are included on the template.

STEP 8: Add a Key and your Map Pins!


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  1. This is awesome... I want to do this workshop if you ever do it again! :) xo

  2. Thank you Melanie for a fabulous evening!!! We all had a great time :) Sarah

  3. hey miss melanie!

    LOVE this idea..so great!

    from a fellow map lover and 'cabin mate'.

    ~ jennifer

  4. Wow! LOVE this idea!

    We have 12 children, and we have taken 4 Cross Country Road Trips in the past 8 years. Mama and 4 of the kids have been on all of the trips, and we have visited 41 states already.

    I would LOVE to make one of these, and use different colored map pins for each trip.

    So glad I found this.

    mama of 12



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