Breathe New Life Into Old Maps: DIY Projects for Wall Art, Coasters

Have you ever discovered an ancient map stashed away in a dusty attic or a thrift store and felt an overwhelming attraction to its ageless charm? Vintage maps have a unique attraction, taking us to ancient ages and igniting our imaginations with stories of discovery and adventure.

Instead of allowing these treasures to gather dust, why not give them new life by making them into gorgeous works of art or practical home furnishings?

We’ll explore the world of DIY map projects, where you can unleash your creativity and transform old maps into stunning wall art, coasters, and more. Prepare to embark on a journey that honors cartography’s beauty while promoting sustainability and personal expression.

DIY Map Wall Art

Framed Map Art

There’s something inherently appealing about framing an antique map and exhibiting it as a focal point in your living room. It quickly brings a sense of adventure and sophistication to any room. The procedure is very easy, but the end effect is completely captivating.

First, select a map that speaks to you, such as an antique atlas page portraying distant regions or a topographic map capturing the harsh features of a favorite location. Once you’ve picked your choice, thoroughly clean and flatten the map to prepare it for its grand debut.

Next, choose a frame that complements the map’s color scheme and design. A sleek, modern frame can add a contemporary touch, but an ornate, antique-inspired frame can highlight the map’s vintage beauty. Remember to consider matting alternatives, which can create a visually appealing border around the map.

Now that you’ve acquired your stuff, it’s time to start. Carefully position the map within the frame, ensuring it is centered and aligned to your specifications. Secure it into position, and voilà! You’ve just made a unique work of art containing a thousand stories.

Canvas Map Art

Consider transferring the map image to a canvas if you want a more textured and dimensional look. This approach enables you to produce a genuinely unique and eye-catching sculpture that will certainly become the main point of any area.

Gather your materials, including a canvas, gel medium, and chosen map. Carefully apply the gel medium to the canvas, making sure to coat it evenly. Then, gently place the map face on the canvas, flattening bubbles or creases.

Once the map is properly affixed, use a brayer or rolling pin to firmly press it into the canvas, ensuring a smooth picture transfer. After it completely dries, you may add finishing touches, like distressing the edges or applying a protective sealer to obtain the desired look.

Map Collage

A map collage is an excellent choice for individuals looking for something more varied and visually appealing. This project lets you mix multiple maps, creating a tapestry of colors, textures, and stories that captivate any audience.

Begin by assembling a group of maps that complement one another in color, design, or topic. Cut or shred them into different shapes and sizes, then arrange them on a surface to create a composition that speaks to you.

When you finish the plan, carefully apply the map pieces to a canvas or board with strong glue. To give your collage more personality, add embellishments such as phrases, stamps, or personal mementos.

The beauty of a map collage comes in its capacity to convey a varied tale by combining fragments from various eras and locations into a cohesive and captivating work of art.

DIY Map Coasters

Coasters in tile

Protect your surfaces in flair with these functional yet eye-catching map coasters. Tile coasters not only give a bit of vintage charm to your party rooms, but they also make great conversation starters.

Start by selecting and cutting tile pieces to the desired size and shape. Ceramic tiles work particularly well, but you can experiment with other materials like stone or wood.

Next, prepare the map by carefully cutting off pieces corresponding to the tile’s measurements. Attach the map to the tile with a powerful adhesive for a smooth, wrinkle-free surface.

Once the adhesive has completely cured, use a clear sealer to protect the map and offer a long-lasting, water-resistant finish. This step is critical for ensuring that your coasters can endure the demands of daily use.

Coasters made of cork

Make cork coasters with historical map motifs for a more rustic and environmentally friendly option. They are elegant and functional and provide a distinct tactile sensation.

Begin by picking a high-quality cork material and cutting it to the necessary coaster shapes and sizes. Round or square coasters are basic options, but experiment with distinctive shapes that suit your taste.

Carefully cut out portions of the map that will be attached to the cork. Use a strong glue specifically developed for porous surfaces to create a firm binding.

Once the map is securely mounted, use a clear sealant to protect the surface and increase the coasters’ endurance. You can also personalize the edges by adding decorative trim or embossing.

Wooden Coasters

Wooden coasters are an excellent canvas for your map designs, giving them a more polished and sophisticated appearance. These coasters have a warm, natural look that suits any design style.

Begin by selecting high-quality wood pieces, such as cedar or maple, and cutting them into appropriate coaster shapes and sizes. Sand the surfaces to get a smooth, even finish.

Attach pieces of the map to the wood with a strong adhesive or decoupage medium. Once the map is properly applied, use a clear sealer or polyurethane finish to protect the surface and increase the coasters’ lifespan.

Add decorative features, such as wood-burning motifs or stenciled patterns, to make your coasters unique and personalized.

Creative Map Projects

While wall art and coasters are traditional options, the possibilities for recycling old maps are virtually limitless. Unleash your creativity and try these one-of-a-kind DIY projects that will add a bit of wanderlust to your home decor.

Map Lampshades

Cover a basic lampshade in portions of an old map to create a stunning work of art. This project is ideal for bringing a touch of vintage charm to any area while providing a stunning ambient lighting source.

Begin by selecting a lampshade base that suits your decorating style. Carefully cut and apply map pieces to the lampshade for a smooth, wrinkle-free finish.

Consider using different map portions or merging many maps to create a visually appealing design. You can also add embellishments, such as ribbon trim or decorative accents, to accentuate the lampshade’s distinct personality.

Map Jewelry

Craft amazing map jewelry to keep a piece of your wanderlust with you wherever you go. These adaptable accessories offer vintage appeal to any outfit and serve as discussion starters.

Use little portions of maps to make eye-catching earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Combine them with jewelry elements like jump rings, clasps, and chains to create one-of-a-kind, individualized creations.

Consider sealing the map pieces with a clear sealer or glue to extend their life and preserve them from wear and tear. You can also include charms or beads that match the map’s color scheme or theme.

Map Magnets

These lovely map magnets will add a whimsical touch to your refrigerator or magnetic board. They are not only utilitarian, but they also serve as pleasant mementos of locations you have visited or wish to visit.

Begin by cutting off little areas of the map that pique your curiosity. These can be specific locales, elaborate designs, or just eye-catching patterns.

Apply a strong magnet to the back of each map piece with a heavy-duty adhesive or hot glue. To increase their protection and durability, consider sealing the magnets with a transparent sealer or resin.

Arrange your map magnets on your refrigerator or magnetic board to create a visually appealing display honoring your passion for travel and adventure.

Tips & Tricks

Working with antique maps may be a pleasant but delicate experience. To ensure that your DIY projects are flawless, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

  1. Finding vintage maps: Look for hidden treasures through thrift stores, flea markets, and online marketplaces. Antique shops and estate sales can be great places to find one-of-a-kind maps.
  2. Vintage maps are fragile and prone to tearing or discoloration, so handle them carefully. Avoid excessive handling and keep them flat or rolled.
  3. Adding personal touches: Be bold and give these DIY projects your unique spin. Consider incorporating personal mementos, photographs, or handwritten notes to create unique pieces with special meaning.
  4. Troubleshooting common issues: If you get bubbles or wrinkles while adhering to the map, gently smooth them out with a brayer or rolling pin. For stubborn creases, use a low-heat iron to flatten the map carefully. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of maps work best for these projects?

While any map can be repurposed, vintage atlases, topographic maps, and antique city maps work particularly well due to their intricate details and historical charm. However, experiment with different styles and eras to find the maps that resonate most with you. 

How can I protect my DIY map projects from fading or damage?

Sealing your projects with a clear sealant or varnish is crucial for protecting the map’s integrity and preventing fading or discoloration. Look for sealants specifically designed for paper or fabric, and apply them in a well-ventilated area following the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Can I use modern maps for these projects?

Absolutely! While vintage maps have undeniable charm, modern maps can also be repurposed creatively and visually strikingly. Consider using maps of your hometown, favorite travel destinations, or even fictional realms from books or movies to add a personal touch to your DIY projects. 

Are there any safety precautions I should take when working with old maps?

When handling vintage maps, it’s essential to take a few precautions. Wear gloves to avoid transferring oils from your hands onto the delicate paper, and work in a clean, well-ventilated area. Additionally, be mindful of any potential lead or toxic materials that may have been used in older maps, and take appropriate safety measures. 


Breathing new life into old maps is a creative and sustainable way to infuse your living spaces with adventure and nostalgic charm. From captivating wall art to functional coasters and beyond, these DIY projects offer endless opportunities to showcase your unique style and celebrate the beauty of cartography. 

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