September 29, 2011
While browsing decor ideas for the nursery, I came across this cool wall map letter a while back. While I liked the concept and price, I found it a bit on the small side, as is the same with other wall letters on the market right now. But I figured with just a few simple materials, an oversized letter can be easily and cheaply made.
My materials: 1) Two large sheets of white foam core, 2) Spray mount, 3) Glue stick, 4) X-acto knife with new blade, 5) Glue gun, 6) Long metal ruler (mine is 18″), and 5) Large world map.
Step 1: A letter can easily be freehanded, but I wanted to use a specific font so I began by creating a template in Adobe Illustrator. I had to divide the letter up and print it out onto multiple sheets of paper, then piece together to get my large 19″x 19″ size. (Let me know if you’d like a tutorial on how to create and print an oversized letter in Illustrator using multiple artboards. Too much info to post here right now.)
Step 2: Using my template, I traced my ‘M’ onto one of the sheets of foam core and cut the letter out with my craft knife.
Step 3: Cut out long strips from the remaining pieces of foam core. These pieces are to make the letter 3-dimensional. Make sure a few pieces are at least the same length as the longest side of your letter. I made my strips 1.25″ wide. You can go thicker or thinner.
Step 4: Trim the length of the foam core strips to build up the sides of the letter. I did this by butting up a strip against the side of the letter, marking the excess length with a pencil, then trimming off. Using my glue gun, I glued the strip to the back of my letter.
I made sure to bevel the corners that didn’t meet at 90° so that they will be nice and sharp. To do this, I sawed through the foam core using my X-acto knife.
Repeat until all the sides are glued on.
Step 5: Open up the map and place your letter where you like (I made sure to capture North Carolina!) Trace lightly around the letter with a pencil. Set letter aside. You will need extra map to cover the sides of the letter, so measuring from the outside of the outline, create another outline. I measured out 2.25″ from my original ‘M’ outline. Basically, I was making a thicker ‘M.’
When trimmed, my extra thick letter looked like this:
(note: my map was a bit bumpy so I actually ran the iron — no steam, low heat — over it a few times)
Step 6: This step was a bit tricky because now I had to place my letter exactly along my outline. I did this by folding along the first, original outline that I penciled in, folding the left-hand most side and the bottoms of my ‘M.’ You will need to make a slit to fold the paper up at the corners. These folds now serve as my ‘registration marks.’ I removed the letter, then sprayed the front with spray mount, then very carefully laid it down on the map, using the folds as my guide for placement.
Step 7: After smoothing out the front, I began the process of wrapping and gluing down the sides.
Because of all the angles in my letter, there were a few spots where there wasn’t enough paper for coverage. These were along the inside. I just cut out strips of map and patched on to cover these white areas.
Step 8: Lastly, I very lightly took an eraser to my pencil outline. Some of the ink rubbed off from the map, but I actually appreciated the effect which gave it a very slight worn/vintage look.
The whole project took me about 2 1/2 hours, split up over a few days. The most tedious part was wrapping the map around the letter. But time and spending less than ten bucks on materials made it worthwhile to me.
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