Gifts from the Heart: A Map Art Project How-To.

My husband and I celebrated our third anniversary in April. He loves maps and GIS, so I knew I wanted to make him something using maps, and I was thinking about incorporating heart shapes, since it was our anniversary. I was feeling a little stuck about how to put it together until I came across this Bespoke heart map art online. I loved it immediately, from the graphic simplicity to the opportunity to have one custom made, choosing each map individually. If I’d had 4oo dollars, it would have been the perfect gift! What I had, though, was maps I’d collected from all of our trips together – the map of the fairgrounds at the state fair (we go every year, due to my abiding love of ferris wheels and heirloom chickens and deep fried candy bars), maps of Utah and Colorado and the Pacific coast from our roadtrips, of our hometowns and the cities we’ve lived in, and one of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where we used to hike or lie on the hood of the car and stargaze, back when we were dating. I also had a heart shaped cookie cutter to use as a template. So I decided to make my own map art for our anniversary. Here’s the step by step for how I made it.

I looked at each map closely, going for some diversity of colors and visual interest, as well as incorporating the most significant spots (for the Parkway, I made sure our favorite hiking spot was in the section of map I cut out, for example). I traced around the cookie cutter with a fine-tip permanent marker, and used scissors to cut out the heart shapes as neatly as possible, trimming off the bump on one side of each heart where the cookie cutter was joined together (this worked better than an Exacto knife, surprisingly). I cut out more hearts than I needed (sorry, Colorado!), and rearranged them on a black sheet of scrapbooking paper until I liked the way they looked (I tried other colors of paper for the background as well – I liked the contrast and simplicity of the black background the best). I used a 3 x 3 grid for the hearts. I used an acid free glue stick to affix the hearts to the paper, and voila! Heart map art in under an hour.

While they were drying, I popped over to the craft store and bought a frame specifically designed for scrapbook pages. I used a white frame to contrast with the black paper. The frame was the only part of the project that cost me actual money, and it was less than ten bucks! The best part by far was watching my husband open his gift and figure out what section of the country was represented in each heart-shaped little map. He figured them all out pretty quickly, and definitely understood why I’d chosen each place – turns out the same places are significant to both of us, when we look back on the years we’ve been together!

Here he is with the final project:

and one more, because I love that he held the maps over his own heart for the photo:

For those wondering, the maps are of:

  • Top row: NC State Fairgrounds; Charleston, SC; Arches National Park, UT.
  • Second row: Flaming Gorge, UT; Asheville, NC; Pacific Coastal Highway 1
  • Third row: Blue Ridge Parkway (Graveyard Fields); White Sands, NM; Portland, OR.
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6 thoughts on “Gifts from the Heart: A Map Art Project How-To.

  1. Pingback: Mini-versary : 2 Years of Project Minify | Project Minify

  2. Hi,

    did you use a heart press cutter or did you just cut the hearts out yourself from a template you had made?

    I’m planning to make this for my hubby for our 1st anniversary as traditionally it’s paper!!

    • I traced around a cookie cutter and then cut them out by hand. I found that scissors worked better than a craft knife for cutting them out evenly. Remember to use acid free glue (or tape) to affix them – that will ensure that your project will last a LOT longer!

  3. Pingback: Oh, the places I’ve been! | athena lambda

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