Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Map Origami

Leftover maps? Love paper folding? Combine the two! Others have.

I love this sphere completed from combining origami shapes together. I can only imagine the hours it took to complete. This example and others are available on Etsy from Benjamin Wieler. He uses vintage maps and stitches the origami shapes together.

The advantage of using maps is that you have a larger than ordinary, colored paper to work with. Those combinations work well for different origami possibilities.

Here is a smaller sphere made from New York Subway maps. The creator lists that it took four hours to complete and is made from 30 sheets of paper!

Liz Hamm uses many types of paper for her origami jewelry including maps.

Here is a classic Origami Kusudama flower made from maps. This one is relatively easy especially with online instructions available here.

This flower can also be combined to make spheres as well.

Papering the walls in maps can be an over-whelming effect. Folding maps into origami shapes combined into spheres can be an alternative way to introduce maps into an environment.

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©2012Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wallpapering with Maps

Continuing on with my exploration of maps as a theme in decor... Some have used maps as a source of unique wallpaper. What room do you think is the most appropriate to use maps for the wall paper? I love the humor of using it in a bathroom although it is easy to overdo a good thing...

There are two approaches in these bathroom options.  The first is to reuse old, colorful maps as wall paper.......

Or buy a wall mural and wrap it around the corners...

Choosing maps with subtler colors greatly changes the impact in a room.


But my favorite applications are the ones that show a little creativity in design...

I love the blue, white and wood combination in this boy's room.  The outline map gives great impact on the wall without being overbearing.

original • via
The following example is barely a map at all but more a typography project.  Works for me because I love both typography and maps!


There are so many options for using maps with children environments. This one is clearly used as a teaching tool as well as a decorative addition.

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©2012Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maps and Decoupage

If you like maps like I do then they can serve as a covering for just about anything creating a new and interesting decor item. You can start simple with a bucket and some ModPodge.  It would make a great wastebasket in the bathroom!


Or another simple application would be for a lampshade. I don't particularly care for USGS green though (wonder if that is an official color?) and the rooster has to go!

Here is another approach from Martha Stewart......

I especially like the following idea - although all I could locate was this unidentified tiny photo. I had to include it because I am looking for a way to pull off a similar idea in my bookshelves - currently fake oak over mdf. Turquoise would be all wrong in my room though and it does dominate in map coloring.

Getting a little more complicated here is a nicely redone dresser. The combination of the white and the map drawer fronts is very nice.

If you are a little more ambitious you could try covering the entire dresser! This one works beautifully with the brown walls.

But if the contours of an entire dresser aren't enough for you how about a chair?

I think I'd like my maps to be a little subtler, but I am going to start saving them.  Should be a collector's item soon! That's all I need is yet another collection.  At least maps are flat unlike globes........!

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©2012Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Do You Love Maps?

I have always loved maps. I study them, I create them, I navigate using them. I find myself wondering if this is a common trait amongst home designers. We love space and spacial relationships and tend to understand three-dimensions. Does that correlate to a more significant relationship with maps amongst designers? Interesting question. Probably a thesis in it.

I recently completed a map project which got me to exploring other uses for maps in craft and home decor. It is a theme that resurfaces occasionally in the blogs and there are some examples of applications. Now that we are all getting in-car navigation systems or have smart phones that assist us, the need for the collection of maps has diminished. Here are some ideas for recycling them.

Old maps can be used to recover anything from storage boxes to magazine files to presents.  Or to create envelopes...

Here is a link to a site that provides instructions on how to print a Google Map of your location and use that to make an envelope. Cool. 

Or here is a tutorial on just lining an envelope with a map...

Because maps are printed on a paper that is heavier than normal, they make a good source for folding and creating envelopes....

Or origami shapes shown here in a garland of globes. 

When using maps you need to pick carefully. Some use a better color palette than others. I have a collection of old Automobile Club (AAA) maps that are decidedly dull in color. I have been trying a variety of paper crafts with them but the results have been equally as dull. I am on the hunt for colorful maps!

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©2012Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Switching Up Materials • Wire Quilt

I have been investigating quilts recently because we want to redo our bedroom. I'd love to have a handmade quilt but there just isn't enough time in my life to make one. As I was exploring ideas online, one totally unrelated quilt appeared and I love it for a completely different set of reasons. It isn't practical for a bed at all.....

This quilt is a wonderful example of a material switch-up. Instead of using fabric, the artist Jan, instead chose wire. In place of a glorious artwork of color, she created a magnificent study of line. The shadows created must add great depth. This "quilted" wall hanging is available from The artist is only identified as Jan and there is no further link. I'd love to know more about this artist and see additional work. Add a comment if you can provide further information.

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©Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pinterest and Branches

If you are one of the followers that has enjoyed my series on branches in home decor then I recommend you visit my Pinterest board on branches and trees. It is here I have continued to collect images of branches and trees. This is a growing scrapbook of inspirations and, even though the blog series is done, I continue to add to it. If you love the idea of bringing the outdoors in, then follow this board of mine on Pinterest.

Simply put, Pinterest is a bookmarking site for images with a sharing aspect built in. It does require registration and an invitation (which means a delay) but it is a wonderful way to collect images. I could never get excited about Twitter because every tweet was a link- and my Internet connection is so slow that each click just slows me down. Pinterest does a better job of showing me the images, and when ones interests are in the design world, it is the images one needs to see.

If you want to follow all my Pinterest boards, click on the link in the left navigation bar.

Warning- pinning can be addicting!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stone Inspiration • Woods Davy

I started looking at stones differently after visiting a gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe (great art and inspiration destination if you've never been) many years ago. It was there I first saw a sculpture by Woods Davy. It was made of stone but looked like a floating cloud formation and I loved the contradiction. This week Davy's work was featured in the Parting Shot section of American Style magazine. I was again inspired.

Woods Davy is from Venice, California and brings a zen-like sensibility to his work. He shares a oneness with nature and a respect for materials in their natural state. I love his stone work especially his Cantamar Series.

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woodland Sprites • DIY Tutorial

Yesterday, I shared with you my recently completed Woodland Sprites crafted from tree branches. You can see a series of photographs of them here. Today, I share with you hints on how to find them and a step-by-step tutorial on making your own.

Supplies needed:
  • Branches
  • Clippers
  • Black spray paint (matte)
  • Round log ( about 3-4" diameter)
• Find your sprites. This is the most difficult step. Trees that have people forms in them need to have branches that grow out opposite each other for arms. Most trees around here have an alternating pattern. Also little people will be found at tree tops. I went looking for trees with recently bent branches so I could reach what had previously been the tree top. Here is a likely candidate....

• But on closer inspection I see that the branches grow in an alternating pattern. Finding people forms here will be unlikely.

• Moving on to another bent top, I see exactly what I am looking for - arms! Here is a tree with branches growing opposite each other.

• I start looking at the branches and sure enough! I find people forms for sprites. Two arms and two legs are required. 

• I clipped the sprite form well above the "shoulders". 

• I collected many of these. Each has its own personality and I want a selection when arranging them.

• I clipped them to what I considered to be the ideal proportions for a woodland sprite but left 1 leg about 1/2" too long. This was to leave a point to insert into the base.  

• I found a scrap of wood and drilled it full of holes a little bigger than the branches. I used a split log from the firewood pile. I inserted a whole gaggle of branches into the log. This was to hold them in place as I spray-painted them.

• Working in a well ventilate space, I sprayed the branches. First I tried a gloss black but, after the first coat, switched to a matte black. I choose black to emphasize the silhouette but could have chosen any color - or a rainbow for that matter!

• As always with spray paint, I did many light coats letting it dry in between each. I sprayed from all angles hoping to get complete coverage.

• While the branches dried I worked on the bases. My original plan was to have a long log with the sprites dancing along it but I quickly modified to disks cut from firewood. It was here that I discovered a surprise. I randomly selected a piece of dried firewood that was about 3" in diameter and cut it into disks ranges from 1 to 4 inches high. 

• When I cut into it I discovered it was spalted maple. Maple becomes spalted just as it starts to rot and black veins snake through the wood. These lines create intricate, beautiful patterns in an otherwise very plan wood. It was after this discovery that I switched to black matte paint. It compliments the spalted effect.

• Most of the bark fell away by my chipping at it. I then sanded off the outer layer of weathered wood working first on a disk sander with 36 grit paper.

• I moved to a belt sander and used two different grits of sandpaper to smooth the initial rough sanding. 

• My original plan had been to give the bases a light coat of satin polyurethane and I experimented on one thinking it would emphasize the lines. It didn't. In fact it really didn't improve the appearance at all so I opted to leaving the bases natural. They really are beautiful - and inspirational.   Just looking at them gives me new ideas.

• Once the sprites were dry and all the bases were sanded, I studied each sprite and decided at what angle they should stand on the base. Using a hand drill I estimated the angle and drilled a hole into the base. It helped to start the hole with and awl.

• Then insert the branch into the base....

• And there is the first Woodland Sprite......

• Make families, classes, gatherings and extra bases to allow freedom in arranging later.

• Try different arrangements in a variety of locations.

If you haven't visited my Branch Inspiration Series yet, you should. It might inspire you as well!

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©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Woodland Sprites • DIY with Branches

My branch series has really started the creative juices flowing. Here is another project, just completed based, on my Dancing Red Sticks. It evolved because I saw tiny people in the branches as we hiked through the woods. They became Woodland Sprites and they are full of personality.

They are made from branch ends, spray-painted matte black and perched on spalted maple bases crafted from firewood. They can be arranged amongst pine boughs, on tables or shelves, with candles or not. I can rearrange them on a whim.

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Their personalities vary from gnarled, bent old men to spritely ballerinas. They are natural, graceful and elegant. I love them. I am working on the tutorial and should have it up tomorrow. Come by and see how easy they are to create. Update: Link to Tutorial here.

If you haven't visited my Branch Inspiration Series yet, you should. It might inspire you as well!

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