With a little inspiration from the queen (Martha Stewart), I made a collage of framed photos from some of the trips we took together over the years. Instead of regular mats in the frames, I covered the mats with maps of that photo/trip's location. It cost me less than $20:
Breakdown of the cost:
5 frames with mats from the thrift store - $10
White spray paint - $3
Maps - FREE (thanks to my AAA membership)
Photos printed from Costco - $2.50
Adhesive foam strips - $4
Some close-ups of the individual map frames:
How I did it:
- Went to the local thrift store and sorted through their huge selection of photo frames/framed artwork. I was particularly looking for frames that already had mats in them so I would not have to buy mats (which cost ~$5 each at Michaels). I was okay with the frames being mismatched because I knew I would spray paint all of them white so that they would end up being semi-uniform. I personally like that all the frames are slightly different but tied together by color.
- Removed the glass and mats from the frames and spray painted them all white.
- Went to local AAA office and discovered that they have a wonderful map vending machine. It looks like this. If you're a member, you just slide your card through and pick out the maps you want. Pretty cool huh? Did I mention FREE if you're already a member? I love AAA! You could probably find some neat vintage maps if you want to spend the money. I just could not turn away free and needed a variety of maps that looked similar enough.
- NOW THIS WAS THE TOUGH PART - Planning. This took me back to the logic games of an LSAT (if you've taken it, you'll know what I mean). Things I had to consider when planning which photo would go where and the map that would "mat" it:
- geographic location of the photos I wanted to use
- orientation of the photos (landscape or portrait? would that work with the map?)
- specific areas of the maps I wanted to show (with enough of the map showing all around the mat area) - tricky because you lose some of the map to the space in the photo
- size of the frame/mat/photo
- Believe me, I had my legal pad out and drew it all out. I was determined to work with what I had and sometimes that meant the maps and/or frames determined which photos I could use.
- Traced the mats onto the maps, being sure to include the specific location where the photo was taken and/or locations that are important to you (i.e. places you visited/have fond memories of).
- Using my tracing as a guide, cut the perimeter of the map mat.
- Using an X-acto knife, cut out the inside of the mat (the part that lines up against the photo).
- Taped the cut out map to the mat with double-sided tape.
- Stuck the adhesive foam strips between the mat and the photo to add more "depth."
- Framed and hung em!
As with most DIY/DIO projects, it always ends up being more challenging than you anticipate. But for me, the problem solving process and the results are always worth the initial frustration. The look on Tony's face was priceless. This was particularly special to him because he LOVES maps and calls them a lost art. Glad I was able to incorporate his love for maps in the gift. Cannot wait to add to the collection!