I was reading the blog over at Magnolia Homes the other day, and I came across this tutorial for making a hanging botanical print. I’ve always loved the look of these prints, and thought I would like to have one someday, but I had yet to stumble across one.
The steps in the tutorial seemed pretty straightforward and perfectly in line with my limited DIY skills, and I thought it would be worth a try so I could finally have a botanical print of my own, but then I remembered I had these old county map books collecting dust somewhere in the house.
My parents came into possession of these books somehow, but had no use for them so they offered them to me. Since I’m a sucker for any sort of old map, I took them. I wasn’t really sure what I would end up using them for, but I thought this project might be a perfect opportunity to put a few to good use.
I’ve been looking for the right piece of artwork or mirror to hang over our headboard for some time. I’ve tried a few different things here and there, but nothing I was all that crazy about, so we’ve basically had an empty wall with a nail sticking out of it for almost two years now. I liked the idea of using something I already had laying around, and I thought the maps could potentially be a nice addition to our headboard wall if I hung a group of them, so I decided to use my maps in place of the botanical print and give this thing a shot.
I chose three maps from one of the books. One map represents our hometown, another represents a road trip that ended up being one of our most favorite days ever, and the third I just liked the shape of. 🙂
I do really like how the maps turned out, I’m just not sure I love them hanging above the bed (it also doesn’t help that a stapling mishap made the middle one slightly shorter than the other two – if they stay there I’m probably going to remove that one or stagger the three so it isn’t so noticeable). Jordan claims to like them, so I’m leaving them for now and giving them a chance to grow on me (and truthfully, I just don’t feel like patching nail holes at the moment!), but I imagine they will find a new home somewhere else in our house down the road.
This was a very low cost (I think I spent less than ten dollars to make all three) and relatively simple DIY that can be done in just a few hours. I basically followed the Magnolia tutorial, but I’ll go through the steps with you here, in case you want to give it a try too.
What you will need:
map or print of your choice
gloves and rags for staining
staples, glue gun or thumb tacks
I used 3/4” pine dowels, cut 1” wider than my maps to allow for an extra ½” on either side. The Magnolia project calls for 7/8” dowels, but their print was larger than mine, and I felt that was too big for my map, so use a size you feel is appropriate to whatever you will be hanging.
I started by lightly distressing the dowels. I found a random piece of pipe on a shelf and used it to mark up the wood just a little so they wouldn’t seem so perfect. I lightly sanded the cut edges and proceeded to stain the dowels (I used a Watco Danish Oil in Dark Walnut) and allowed them to dry overnight.
Once the stain is dry, you can assemble your maps.
The first thing you want to do is insert the eye hooks into the dowels. I was able to thread mine in by hand since the pine is so soft. If it gets hard to turn the hook, use pliers to help you thread it the remainder of the way.
Next you will want to have your map or print ready. If you’re pulling your print from a book, like I did, I suggest using a wrapping paper cutter like this one. It makes a nice, clean cut for you to work with.
Now you’re ready to assemble your maps! Grab your framing square and tape measure. If you had to cut your prints, start with the uncut side (it will be the most square).
Lay the dowel tightly in the corner of the square. Flip your map over and lay it on top of the dowel. You know you want to have a ½” on either side of your map, so line your map up with the ½” mark on the square.
To make sure the map stays true, use a tape measure set at ½” toward the bottom of the map like this. This will help keep your map hanging straight.
Using staples, glue, or thumbtacks, secure your print to the dowel (I used an electric staple gun).
It’s helpful to have an extra set of hands to hold the dowel in place for this part, but if you don’t, you can use blue painters tape to help keep it from rolling.
Don’t have a map to use? There are lots of sources online (I like ebay or Etsy for affordable options), or try your local antiques store or flea market – I often see old maps there. You could even visit your County Recorder and have a copy of your subdivision plat printed for a small charge.
I still would like to try making my own botanical print, but I think there are a dozen other possibilities using this method as well: enlarged favorite photos, sheet music of a favorite song, pages from an old book of children’s ABCs, etc. – pick whatever works for your space and get creative with it! 🙂