Wednesday, 6 May 2015

crafting my travels

My giant map is finished! 

This is an incredibly good feeling: I have a real sense of accomplishment as this has been a very long-term craft project.  I've documented the progress of the giant map in a few blog posts along the way, but now it's done, I've gone back and pulled out a little timeline of progress photos to document the full project.

It all began back in January.

As in January 2014. Almost 18 months ago.

I had purchased a giant canvas; as in same-as-my-armspan-and-I-struggle-to-carry-it giant. I also picked up a world map, and I got both for bargain, reduced prices at discount book and stationary shop The Works. First I traced round the map in sharpie to emphasise the borders of each country, then I taped it to the back of the canvas , propped the whole thing against the window and pencilled the world onto my canvas.

Confession: I had to trim the Atlantic ocean down a little so that Fiji and Hawaii could both fit on the edges. But I won't tell if you won't.

Then I stitched along all the pencil lines.

I will fully and freely confess that stitching was a stupid idea.  But once you've started, you've got to carry on. It was hard work reaching around the canvas due to it's size,some of the coastlines are very intricate and fiddly, and the canvas has big wooden supports in the back that were a real pain to embroider around.

Having said that it was a stupid idea, I should also say that I LOVE the result. It has texture and dimension and looks brilliant. I hope I never have to do anything like that again.  I'm incredibly glad I stuck with it!

So it took a long time, other craft projects came and went around it, but eventually I defeated the embroidery beast. The next logical step is to paint in the countries.  I liked the idea of leaving the oceans clear and white, and having the countries in a variety of matching shades. After mucking around with a few ideas, I opted for shades of blue and turquoise.  I found an art shop, and purchased some decent quality acrylic paint.

And you know what?  Those paints were rubbish.  I'm happy to accept that this could be due to user error, but they were uneven and streaky and the canvas looked like a three-year-old had tried to paint it.  Blindfolded.  With their fingers.

And of course, I had started with Russia, thinking it would be good to get the biggest country out of the way,

Convinced I had ruined my canvas, and unable to face the prospect of starting again on the embroidery, I pottered back to The Works and bought some ultra-cheap acrylic paint in blue, dark blue, green and white. And I mixed my own shades as I went.

Worked like a charm.  Hurrah for cheap paint that looks fab!  I painted over Russia and the minor set-back was soon overcome.

This also took a long time.  See points above regarding unacceptable wigglyness of country borders and size of canvas. If political leaders got their collective act together, I'm sure they could negotiate some territorial swapsies and organise straighter borders.

Although that might be awkward for the residents involved, and also then my map would be wrong and I've to start again, so maybe let's just leave everything as it is.

But it is done!  All finished!  And I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  All that remains is to work out where (and how) to hang it, and to mark on the places I have visited. I haven't decided how to do this yet, so suggestions very much appreciated!

I like that this will be a work-in-progress, like a giant, wall scrapbook showing my travels. I'm looking forward to adorning it with journeys past and journeys yet to come.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Aw shucks, now I'm going to need to think up a new giant project to take up space in my flat...


  1. That looks brilliant. Well done for persevering to the end. I think it was worth it.

  2. Wow! You really have a lot of patience! Looks fab though;it needs to be up on a wall very soon!

  3. So pleased you've finished it. It looks amazing! How about punching a little heart or star for every country you've been to and gluing one on it?

  4. looks fabulous - I was going to suggest an embroidered star on each country but given the logistics of that perhaps not - how about a stick on bling or pearl because they come in different colours and sizes

  5. That's been a labour of love! It's looks amazing! Did I miss the bit about how you will be marking countries visited?

  6. Ok, I just reread the post ... perhaps you could use small star shaped brads to mark off the countries?

  7. Amazing......if 'The Works' had a craft blog, you'd be the star project!!! If I show this to my son, he'll be begging me to make one but can I commit to a project of this scale?!!! You could mark the countries you've visited with a bit of bling or a washi tape flag or an actual mini flag from the country (cool - but *more work*!)...or - dare I say it - an embroidered mini flag for each country you've visited (LOL!!!!)?

  8. this is seriously crazy and amazing!! and now I want one too haha

  9. I love it Kirsty. Such a beautiful idea from start to finish and it is such an achievement to complete. So glad you began this and that you are chuffed with the end results
    Jo xxx

  10. This is just so beautiful. The boy would be swooning too. He spent most of this evening telling me about the old map he found in the art department! Typical Geographer!
    Yours is lovely and fresh looking. A labour of love for sure.

  11. Wow congratulations! I love this and I know how it is difficult to work on this type of project. If I had not read that it was awful to stitch on the canvas I would try! ;) maybe you could had a shimmery clear paint to the countries you visited?

  12. Wow. Kirsty this is truly stunning. I can see why it has taken so long to complete. You should be so proud of yourself

  13. The finished map looks brilliant! You must be super patient! Inspired to get some map crafts done now! Meabh

  14. This is absolutely beautiful, and such a lovely piece of hand work.

  15. You are amazing, Kirsty! I'm glad you finished your map (with hearts and all).