happy birthday to chris + an art project

Time seems to be flying by and the past few years have been quite the whirlwind.  A whirlwind of ups and downs, excitement, stress, sadness, and joy.  Experiences that I am so fortunate to have shared with Chris.  Experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to get through without Chris.

To mark Chris’s 29th year I wanted to come up with something extra creative + meaningful while trying not to break the bank. This idea popped into my head a few months back and I’m so excited to have finally completed it.

Because I have the patience of a 4yr old when it comes to giving gifts, I had to give this to Chris on his birthday-eve.  By the looks of the package he expecting a framed photo or some sort of artwork but was quite surprised at what was actually inside.

This gift documents the exact route we took on our honeymoon in Ireland just over 4 years ago.  There was no way I was driving on the opposite side of the road while trying to work a manual car with my left hand.  Chris drove the entire 10 days which I am so thankful for.  If the driving would have been on me, we would have never left Dublin.

You can read more about our trip in this postPlease excuse my use of “LOL” and approximately 1 million exclamation points.

Here is the step-by-step process:

1. Find a map and buy it.  I found mine on this Etsy site.  It was printed in 1892! $32 with s/h

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2. Buy a can of “preserve it” and “spray adhesive.”

note:  Since you can’t cover the map and pins with glass I wanted to make sure the map doesn’t deteriorate over time.  I grabbed this bottle of “preserve it” from Michaels with a 40% off coupon putting it around $4.  I already had the adhesive spray.

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3. Buy a frame that is the proper size for your map.  I got this 16x20 frame at IKEA a few months ago.  It was waiting to be used!  $15

4. Buy a piece of foam board that you can cut down to fit in your frame.  Had an extra piece at home!  $0

5. Buy a piece of smooth art-board [mine was Canson brand] that you can trim down to the size you need.  This should be thick and sturdy, similar to matte board.  $2.39 after another 40% off coupon

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6.  Cut the art board and foam board and make sure they fit snugly into your frame.

note: An x-acto knife and a metal straight edge work really well.

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7. Flatten the map under a stack of heavy books.

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8. Lose patience while waiting for the map to flatten and center the map, marking lightly with a pencil so you know where to glue it down.

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9.  Spray the back of the map according to the directions on your spray adhesive can.  This is the trickiest part as once you’ve started to place it you can’t really pick it back up!  Have a straight edge around can help to smooth out any bubbles.

10.  Once dry spray with the “preserve it” according to the product directions.  Let fully dry.

notes: In steps 9+10 it’s best to do the spraying outside.

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11.  Place the matte board in the frame, then the board with the map on it, and then the foam board in back.  Secure the tabs in the back of the frame.

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12.  Start adding your mini T-pins [found in the sewing section at Michaels] wherever you like.  $2.99

note: I added one in each corner to look as if they are holding the map in.  Make sure you’re working on a flat and sturdy table.  Press each pin in firmly and tap lightly with the bottom of a screwdriver or a small hammer, etc. to make sure the T-pin goes all the way through to the foam board.  A few light taps are all you need.  The pins should feel very secure if they’re in all the way.

13.  Double knot whatever type of string/rope/twine you’re using at the first T-pin to start mapping your route.  $3.99

note: I used very thin hemp rope, also from Michaels.  It came with a few different bright colors.  I started with green but changed to blue because it stood out a lot more.

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14.  Trace your route with the string tying a single knot at each T-pin.  Make sure to pull the string as tight as possible before securing the knot.

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15.  Double knot at your end point, trim the string at the start and end, and you’re done!

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Oooh – don’t forget to carefully wrap it up! 

Total cost = $60

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Happy Birthday, Chris!!

Here’s to the next whirlwind of a year.  There’s no one else I would rather experience it with.

Love you so much!