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How to Repurpose Old Maps

written by: L.Romano•edited by: Lindsay Evans•updated: 4/23/2010

Old maps are comprised of beautiful colors and may spur thoughts of wandering through various countries. Revamping a plain item by using a map can make them beautiful and a work of art.

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    Old maps can turn a plain and boring item into something decorative and intriguing. Whether you have the maps in a pile at home or you found some interesting ones at a thrift store or flea market, you can use them as a cheap way to revamp an item as a craft project. Knowing how to recycle old maps into a project takes time and effort, but the results can be wonderful.

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    Notebook

    To transform a notebook by using an old map, buy a hardcover notebook that has a plain, light colored cover. Place the notebook on the map, then trace the outline of it; make the one edge right before where the spirals start as the map will not cover them. Trace a second piece that you can use for the back cover. After you cut out your two pieces, use a foam brush to put a light coat of glue onto the cover, then carefully place the piece of map onto it. Press it down to avoid any air bubbles. After the one cover thoroughly dries, do the same with the back cover. Put another thin layer of glue over both covers to avoid any damage to the map.

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    Containers or Trays

    You can redecorate any flat surfaced container or tray by using an old map. Wipe down the item using only water or a dry cloth; do not use any cleaning products as they can sometimes leave behind a residue. After the item is clean, measure each side out onto the map, and then cut out each piece. Put a thin layer of glue onto one side at a time, then attach its corresponding piece; press it down to avoid any wrinkles. Repeat the process until the map covers the entire item. After it dries, put more glue over the map. Give it ample time to dry before using it or moving it around.

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    Road Trip Bag

    Purchase a clear plastic tote bag from any store or online; the bag should have the form of an opened paper bag. You will need more than one map for this project. Cut the maps to the size of each side of the bag. Doing one side at a time, put a layer of glue on a piece of the map, then carefully slide it into the bag and lay it on its corresponding section. Press it down very carefully, smooth it down, then immediately lift the bag to look through the outside of it to make sure the map on the inside looks perfectly flat and has no smears of glue. Do each area of the inside of the bag until it is completely covered. After the glue dries, cut pieces of fabric to match the measurements of the bag, then glue those pieces onto the inside on top of the map. Give it plenty of time to dry before moving the bag around. It will make an interesting bag to use for road trips to keep snacks or entertainment items in.

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    Storage

    You may have a storage piece, such as luggage or a trunk, that you love the shape of but may not be so fond of its outside. Decorating it is a good way to repurpose old maps and do it cheaply as well as give the storage piece an interesting look. Dust off the entire piece using water or a rag; there should be no dust or grime left on it at all. You can leave the maps intact and adhere them as they are or you can cut them into pieces and overlap them over each other. After you decide your preference, put wood glue onto the paper, then stick it onto the storage piece. When the entire storage piece is covered with the maps, leave it in a cool, dry place so the glue can dry. Afterward, put another layer of glue over all the pieces to protect them.

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    Planters

    Use an old planter or purchase a new one of any material you choose; make sure the planter has all flat surfaces. Clean off the planter even if it is brand new. Cut the map to the shape of the planter, and then use a waterproof glue to adhere it to the surface. Smooth it out to eliminate any wrinkles. Use the waterproof glue over the map as well to ensure no damage to the map.

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    When you know how to recycle old maps, you transfer a piece of history onto an item. The world is constantly changing and a map is a picture of it at a specific point in time. If you pass the decorative pieces on to your children, their world can look completely different to them then it does on your craft projects.