Thursday, June 15, 2017

Photo Collage Map

I'm so excited to share this project with you today for the new 
Anything Crafty Goes challenge at Love To Craft!

It's a large, 24" x 36", photo collage map of the USA !

I've been working on this project off and on for several months.
I'm not exaggerating, it's true ! 
This was a real labor of love to be sure.

Read on if you would like to know how I did it, all by hand. 

First off, choose a photo (or more if you would like)
from each state you've visited.
You could also make it photos of friends and family
that live across the USA (or your home country),
perhaps places you'd like to visit one day.
Even use no photos at all, 
just make it a collage of fun papers or fabrics !

There are two ways to create the collage map:
cut actual photos to fit a pattern that you make
make a digital version, as I did, and have the images
printed in the shapes of the states.
Note that if you choose to have the digital
images printed in the shape of the states,
some may need to be larger prints
depending on your finished collage size.

I made my own digital template from one large USA map outline.
I enlisted the help of my daughter to figure out how to do this in Photoshop.
Once we were able to get one state done (and I noted the steps,
but don't ask me how now because I do not remember !),
I proceeded to do the other 49.
I did not add Alaska and Hawaii on this piece.
One day I hope to have photos from the state of Alaska to add.....

After having digital outlines of each state, 
I could start filling them in with my digital photos.
Doing it digitally I could manipulate them to fit
several on some states. 
Note that several states on the East Coast
will be near impossible to put photos in 
since they are so tiny !

Since I had a large swath of the country filled in with photos, 
I decided to have 12" x 12" prints made.
I thought this would be easier and take less time to assemble
than having each state printed individually to hand cut out. 
Plus, they probably wouldn't fit back together so well. 

I had my prints made at Persnickety Prints.
If interested, read my complete review here.
I had a quality experience all around and 
recommend them to anyone wanting 12" x 12" 
prints made (they print many other items as well). 

I sectioned the large digital map into 6 portions
and had them printed onto a drafting vellum paper.
I glued the sections back together to make one map
then proceeded to cut each and every state out by hand.
These created the pattern pieces to trace onto decorative paper.

Have I mentioned that this project took hours and hours 
and hours to create ?! 

Once all of the state outlines were printed and cut out,
I laid them back out onto a large table top
(best not to do when you have a cat "helper" nearby)
in the rough shape of the USA.

Next up,
deciding which paper or fabric to use on which state ! 

This is why I laid the map back out, 
so I could position the pieces of paper I wanted to use
on each state to get an idea of what I wanted where.
That took a while, too, trying to decide what color or
pattern should be next to another. 
Honestly now that it is hung,
 I think I am going to change California.
I wanted a different coordinating paper for each state
and needed one that could be easily pieced together for 
CA (I was using 6" x 6" papers) since it was so large.
It looked out of place to me when I was putting it together,
really does now that it is hung up. 

Moving on.........

Get all of the papers decided on,
trace the patterns you made then hand cut them out.
Do this only for the states you have no photos to put in.
Turn the pattern upside down and trace on the back 
of the decorative papers, then you won't have any lines
showing when you cut them out. 
You may want to mark the state names on the backs ;) 

After all of your photos and state images are cut out,
you will need to lay them out on your background 
to get them aligned before gluing in place.
I used a large piece of mat board for my base.
It took me three times and even then, they still ended up being 
crooked to me after I started gluing them down ! Sigh. 

I forgot to mention that I did go over the outlines of the states
on the printed photos with a fine line black Sharpie marker. 
There were lines from my digital files/photos, 
but they didn't seem very distinct. 

Finished and hanging!
This is a huge piece, just over 24"x 36". 
The frame is a lightweight composite material
with a piece of thin plastic in place of glass.
This makes it lightweight and easier to hang.
I bought the frame at Michael's on sale, 
Honey Belmont frame by Studio Decor.
The 6"x 6" paper pad also came from Michael's,
Recollections brand item # 484762.
The mat board is something I've had in my stash
from my job as a framer long ago. 

Yes, I have saved my patterns in hopes of filling in more states!


  1. This has got to be the most tedious but AWESOME project I have ever seen. I LOVE IT!! I think its a fabulous idea and could see me trying to do that also. Not sure I have the patience!!! YOU ROCKED IT~

  2. Such a wonderful idea! Absolutely lovely.

  3. So wonderful idea and it looks perfect!!!!
    So creative!!
    Thank you so much for entering our ATG challenge at Through The Craft Room Door this week. Looking forward to see you again next challenge.
    HUGS Cicci
    Cicci With the Pen {welcome to vistit my blog}
    Through The Craft Room Door

  4. Such an amazing project and a true piece of art to adore and reminise over. Thanks so much for joining my Paper Piecing Palooza blog challenge :)

    Jeannie T.
    Dragonfly Journeys

  5. you are very innovative, lovely that idea
    Thank you for joining us at Addicted to Stamps & More.
    Shylaa DT@ATSM


THANK YOU for taking the time to leave your comments. I hope I've inspired you to get a bit crafty today ;)