Handmade Jewelry Using Maps: Worth More Than Hidden Treasure
Maps contain a wealth of creative potential for making meaningful sentimental jewelry. With some clever folding, cutting, and decoupage, paper cartography transforms into striking pendants, rings, bracelets, and cuff links celebrating special locations.
This guide covers innovative ways to upcycle map pieces into one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry. Learn techniques for selecting, sealing, and showcasing map sections as wearable keepsakes marking memories. Discover thoughtful gift ideas for preserving travel journeys and personal geography through map jewelry.
Benefits of Using Maps for Jewelry Making
Maps offer unique advantages as a jewelry material:
- Allow capturing nostalgic memories of meaningful places visited or lived
- Provide inexpensive and readily abundant material via discarded scrap maps
- Natual palette lends earthy character to bohemian and vintage designs
- Details like text, landmarks, routes bring stories to life when preserved
- Coated paper withstands shaping, cutting, and sealing well for durable jewelry
- Folded three-dimensional forms create striking sculptural focal points
- Complex cartography yields abstract shapes and lines when cut apart
- Makes thoughtful personalized gifts for travelers, adventurers, explorers
- Repurposing disused maps follows principles of creative upcycling
Helpful Tools and Materials for Making Map Jewelry
In addition to maps, useful supplies include:
- Craft glue – Adheres map layers and collage elements
- Clear resin or varnish – Seals and protects finished map pieces
- Corner rounder – Smooths sharp map edges into gentle curves
- Ruler – Measures consistent map segment sizes
- Scissors – Cut intricate map shapes cleanly
- Hole punch – Quickly punch stringing holes into map elements
- Jump rings – Connect map components to chain
- Jewelry findings – Clasps, headpins, and ear wires
- Craft knife – Precision cutting of tiny map details
- Tweezers – Manipulate and position small map pieces
Best Map Types for Making Jewelry
Look for maps with these sought-after qualities:
- Vintage Maps – Show interesting old stylized designs long outdated
- World Maps – Provide broad palette of global colors, icons, details
- City Maps – Capture hometown details and personal geography
- Topography Maps – Add altitude lines and shaded relief for texture
- Themed Maps – Nautical, celestial, historical, fantasy, transit
- Travel Maps – Outline destinations and journey routes with meaning
- Children’s Maps – Whimsical illustrated places spark imagination
- Souvenir Maps – Affordable keepsakes depicting landmarks
- Discarded Maps – Reuse free scrap maps destined for landfills
Techniques for Transforming Maps into Jewelry
Follow these methods for upcycling cartography into wearable art:
- Cut or tear map sections into meaningful shapes and silhouettes
- Fold map pages into 3D sculptures, coils, tubes, and other forms
- Decoupage overlapping map layers using gel medium atop jewelry bases
- Preserve folded and cut map elements by coating thoroughly with resin
- Affix map charms using jewelry glue onto simple necklace chains
- Frame desired locations under glass domes in jewelry box lids and trays
- Create engraved rectangular map pendants by printing maps onto metal blanks
- Emboss maps with handmade texture plates and rub-ons before sealing
- Oxidize unearthed antique maps using tea stain solutions bringing details forward
- Combine map elements with complementary pieces like compass charms or longitude jewelry accents
Step-By-Step DIY Map Jewelry Tutorials
Follow these tutorials to create stunning map-inspired jewelry:
Map Charm Necklace
- Vintage map printed on cardstock
- Craft knife
- Jewelry glue
- 18-inch chain
- Jump rings
- Select a meaningful map location. Carefully cut into a 1-inch wide strip using a craft knife on cutting mat.
- Brush thin layer of jewelry glue onto the backside. Affix securely onto a blank charm.
- Once fully dry, use jump rings to attach an 18-inch chain onto the charm bail.
- Add additional map charms or decorative charms like compasses along the length.
Resin Map Earrings
- Earring blanks
- Resin casting supplies
- Earring posts
- Scan a boxed section of a map. Print onto glossy adhesive paper.
- Cut out map sections and adhere onto metal earring blanks.
- Mix resin and pour over map surface of earring blanks to seal and protect.
- Once fully hardened, attach earring posts to the back.
Origami Map Ring
- Map printed on thin paper
- Tacky craft glue
- Ring blank
- Jump ring
- Cut a 3/4-inch wide strip of a map. Brush thin glue down center. Fold lengthwise and press to seal.
- Twist strip tightly. Coil into a rose shape, securing center and outer edges with more glue.
- Glue rose origami map bead securely onto the ring blank band.
- Attach a jump ring to the top of the ring blank for the perfect fit.
Inspirational Map Jewelry Designs
Take inspiration from these beautiful ways to repurpose maps into jewelry art:
- Multilayer map decoupage bangles made from many hand cut paper strips
- Riveted metal rings wrapped with strips of maps commemorating global travels
- Bracelets with spyglass and ship wheel charms made from rolled map fragments
- Necklaces made from interconnected miniature origami boats folded from colorful maps
- Hollow 3D map beads capturing special sites rolled tightly into tubes then reshaped when dry
- Mixed media map earrings layering torn collage strips under decoupage and resin
- Whimsical hot air balloon pendants with miniature map basket decoupage
- Steampunk goggles featuring magnifying monocle lenses etched with cartographic designs
- Children’s museum map rolled into whimsical literary scrolls sealed in glass vials
- Etched map ring bands with locations meaningful to couples on their journeys together
Tips for Improving Your Map Jewelry Skills
Apply these techniques to take map jewelry to the next level:
- Seal porous paper fully before gluing to prevent moisture warping
- Print maps onto metal blanks using laser toner transfer techniques
- Create intricate lattice designs by slicing folded maps into paper filigree
- Use corner rounder punches on map segments to soften rigid shape edges
- Combine map elements with complementary travel charms like compasses, planes, or landmarks
- Surround cutout map locations with metal bezels for framed shadow box pendant effects
- Name pieces based on map locations like “Route 66” or “Goldfield”
- Develop cohesive collections using maps from a consistent region or theme
- Title meaningful personalized map gifts with their specific intended purpose
With creativity, discarded maps gain renewed purpose as remarkable one-of-a-kind jewelry treasures. Their illustrations of places, routes, and geography gain new significance when preserved in resin pendants, charms, and rings.
Whether to celebrate trips to exotic global destinations or childhood neighborhoods, maps convey memories. Cherish journeys through map jewelry crafted by hand with care to delight travel and adventure lovers.