Personalized gifts are one of the perks of being a crafter. They're also one of the challenges. When you have the ability to make something from scratch, there's rarely a good excuse for it to be boring or uninspired. Over the years I've learned that personalized gifts are always the perfect thing for someone who "has everything." If you can make it memorable or heartwarming, sometimes it doesn't have to be useful. With that in mind, I set out to make something special for my parents, who "have everything" and love to travel. This year's perfect personalized gift: a triptych of papercrafting projects personalized for parents! Each piece includes a map of a city where our immediate family lives. This project can be altered easily to include maps of where you've traveled or where you met your partner, etc. Lovely and very personal! To put them together you will need:
- 12x12 frames (I used "t-shirt" frames, but they'd look great in shadowbox frames as well)
- 12x12 scrapbook paper
- maps of your choice
- coordinating cardstock
- gel pen - color of choice
- double stick tape (or Scotch glue)
- double stick foam tape (if desired)
- deckle edge scissors or rotary cutter
Unfortunately I don't have process shots of these, as they went together very quickly and in the race to finish Christmas gifts, frankly, I forgot. It's simple enough: Find a nice piece of scrapbook paper that will match their decor, pick a coordinating color cardstock, cut a square out of a map, do some measurements, tape things together, POOF! Instant gift!
Honestly the part that took the most time was looking up nicknames for the cities I was using. Did you know Knoxville, TN is the streaking capital of the world? You do now! (Note: I did not include this as one of my chosen Knoxville nicknames for the project) J researched the names while I worked on measurements and cutting.
I decided on my map square size primarily because it was the largest square I could get without getting any non-map information from each city's page. Once I'd figured those dimensions, I marked the cardstock and cut it with a 1/4" border on all sides. I have a deckle blade for my rotary cutter, but any fancy-edged scissors would work fine if you can follow a straight line. I centered the map on the cardstock and used double-stick tape to fix it in place.
By the time I had finished matting the maps, J had a plethora of options picked out for the border. I chose my favorite nicknames for each city and went to work penning them around the edges of each map. I used a gel pen with a little sheen/sparkle to it to help give it dimension. From far away it just looks like a textured border, but up close it's a tribute to all the quirky things about each place.
Once I'd completed the writing, I worked the math (not my strong suit) and realized that cutting the squares a non-standard size made centering them on the background more difficult than I expected. Plan ahead for this issue. Once I had the placement decided, I used double stick foam squares to adhere the cardstock to the background. This raised the center portion up a little, creating a nice shadow-box look. I'll admit this would have worked better if I'd used actual shadow boxes.
There's really no limit to the project at this point. I tried my best to make the three "match," but if I were making this an ongoing project, such as a hallway of travel over the years for instance, I would probably want to make them more neutral so I could add to it easily. As it is, these are pretty colorful.
The only problem with this gift, which wowed the parents by the way, is that now I want to make a set for myself! Hometown, Collegetown, Town I Call Home? We'll see...