Monday, April 30, 2012

Map Covered Monogram Tutorial

How to Make a Map Covered Monogram:

1/4" sheet MDF - 2' x 4' (also known as particle board)
large map - mine is a 1988 National Geographic world map
xtacto or small utility knife
painters tape or masking tape
drill with 1/4" or larger bit
sandpaper - 100 grit works well
bone folder or wadded up paper towel
C-clamps and a sturdy work surface

Safety equipment:
safety glasses
dust mask (especially if you have allergies or asthma)
ear plugs

Step One: Determine the size of your monogram.
- Size of your wall - I could fit something up to 3' x 4' on my mantle.
- Size of your map - My map was approximately 3.5' x 2.5'
- Size of your MDF - My local hardware store sold huge sheets of MDF for about $30 or 2'x4' sheets for about $6. I went with the $6 option.

My monogram is 24" tall and 44" wide.

Step Two: Plot out your letters.
I used Illustrator because it's what I have. But you can use whatever program you have that lets you manipulate text, especially kerning.
- Choose a font that is thick enough that when you cut the letters out, they'll have enough structural integrity that they won't break. I am using Rosewood Standard Fill.
- You want your letters to overlap enough that it's not going to break where the letters meet with one another. You can do this by adjusting the kerning.
- For printing purposes, use just the outlines of the letters. It'll save you a ton of toner/ink.

Step Three: Transfer your monogram to the MDF.
4 options:
- If you have amazing lettering skills, you can draw it right onto your MDF. However, if you're like me and you don't, do one of the following.
- Easiest: Use a projector and trace the image directly onto the MDF.
- Second Easiest: Pay a printing service to print it out large scale, cut out the letters.
- Cheapest and Most Masochistic: (ie. my method) Tile your image, print it out onto a bajillion 8.5 x 11 sheets of cardstock, meticulously piece them back together with tape and cut out the monogram.

For either of the last 2 options, carefully cut out the letters and, using some painters tape (or masking tape that you've stuck to your jeans a couple times to make it less tacky), secure the letters to the sheet of MDF so that they won't slip around while you're tracing them. Make sure that your paper pattern is nice and flat against the surface so you don't end up with wonky letters.

 Trace your pattern onto your MDF with your favorite magenta sharpie. Then take a break for dinner because you've completely lost track of time and you just realized that you're starving.

Step Four: Cut it Out
Secure the MDF to a sturdy work surface and cut that sucker out.
- Always use proper safety equipment and procedures. Keep your fingers, hair, clothes, etc. away from the blade.
- Jigsaws cut lovely curves and straight lines, but they won't cut at an angle.
- Use a drill to start cutting out an interior space. So for example, to cut out this odd shape between the ampersand and the M, I drilled three holes and then cut along the lines. I was left with a few small areas that I didn't get with my initial cuts, so I just went back in with the saw and cleaned them up.

- Start with the outside and remove any large excess pieces first. Then do the inner areas and work your way out so as to protect any fragile parts, like the long thin pieces of my "M". Like so.

Step Five: Sand the Edges
Smooth out any rough edges.

Step Six: Glue the map to your monogram cut out.
In a well ventilated area, spread out some newspaper to put under your cutout.

Spray the mdf with spray adhesive, following the directions on the can.
Working quickly with a partner, carefully place the map on top of the cutout and smooth it down.
Using the bone folder or wadded up paper towel, rub the paper firmly all over to remove any bubbles and adhere it to the cutout.

Step Seven:
Flip it over onto some cardboard and cut out all around the MDF with your utility or xacto knife.

Step Eight:
Run a piece of sandpaper carefully along the edges to remove any excess paper. You want to use a downward/sideways motion to avoid tearing the paper. Use gentle pressure and make several passes, instead of one really firm stroke.

Step Nine:
Step it up and admire your handy work!

Bibliography: I used the following sources as instruction and inspiration.


Ruby Murray said...

love this, just off to share it on my blog ;)

Ruby Murray said...

Blogged here:

Dang it girl you need to have a full Etsy shop ;)