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How to make mandala-inspired wall art using old maps

Transform an old map into your very own modern art! Marsha Smith shows you how.

Mandala-inspired map art

A mandala is a symmetrical circular pattern. There are many gorgeous examples to be inspired by, but it’s best to keep it simple to start with. You’ll end up with a wonderful piece of art that’s individual and unique.

What you’ll need
- Paper maps
- Sticky tape (masking tape or invisible tape)
- White mounting cardboard
- Hot glue and glue gun
- Box frame of choice

Steps
1 Start by cutting the maps into long strips about 21mm wide. Fold each strip three times lengthways, so they end up being around 7mm wide. This artwork can be as small or large as you like – it’s up to you and how many rolls you create.

2 Starting at one end of each folded strip, roll up the paper as tightly as you can. Keep rolling until you reach the end of the strip, then use a small piece of tape to hold it in place.

3 To make a larger circle, tape on a new strip and continue rolling it up tightly until you have reached the desired diameter.

4 Make a variety of different-sized circles to achieve the pattern and size of artwork you’d like. Think about the colours you want and use various parts of your map to create these – for example, the ocean for blue circles, land masses for green.

5 For a tear-drop shape, start rolling your paper strip into a tiny circle, then pinch one side so a triangular end shape starts to form. The sides will get longer and the curve will be at the top.

6 Lay the paper rolls on a piece of mounting card that has been cut to fit your frame. This is where your creativity comes into play. Move the rolls around, and play with designs and shapes until you have a pattern you are happy with.

7 Heat your glue gun and glue each piece into place on the card. Now it’s ready to frame!

African geometric elephant

We’ve created an elephant template, but images of other geometric shaped animals can be found on the internet if you prefer something else. You will need to scale it up to your chosen size on a photocopier. If you can only print in A4 size, simply tile it and sellotape the pieces together.

What you’ll need
- Geometric animal pattern (see template, right)
- White mounting cardboard
- Cutting board
- Pencil
- Removable masking tape
- Stanley knife and blades
- Metal ruler
- Thin cardboard
- Large map
- Craft glue or spray adhesive
- Frame of choice

Steps
1 Place the mounting cardboard on your cutting board and lay the printed template on top, positioning it so it will be able to sit in the centre of the frame. I found it helpful to draw the shape of my frame in pencil on the cardboard first. Use removable masking tape to hold template in place.

2 Using a sharp Stanley knife and a metal ruler, cut out the geometric shapes, cutting either side of the black lines (don’t cut along the black lines). You need to cut through both the template and the cardboard, so you will probably need to go over each cut a few times to get all the way through. Take your time, as it is very easy to slip and cut through the thin pieces of card left behind – and you don’t want to cut a finger!

Template:  Enlarge to your chosen frame size.
Template: Enlarge to your chosen frame size.

3 Once you’ve cut out all your pieces, remove the template and trim the cardboard to fit into your frame.

4 Cut a piece of thinner card the same size as your frame. Place your map on top of this card and lay the elephant cut-out on top to see how it looks. Adjust the position of the map until you are happy with the result, then glue the map onto the thin card.

5 Now all you need to do is put your layers together and place inside your frame to hang.

TOP TIP: Keep shapes simple and always use a sharp blade – I went through about six blades.

IDEAS: Make your piece of art more personal by using an animal that may have significance to you, or a map of a place in the world that you love!

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