Friday, July 26, 2013

DIY: Custom Map Deco

In case you weren't aware already, I've been in the process of redesigning my parents' great room. You know, the whole big thing. New paint, new furniture, new accessories, pictures on the wall, etc. It's almost done and I will have a whole blog post dedicated to it. This post, however, is dedicated to this cute little custom deco I made:
This is perfect for the type of walls that are so small in width you can't put any furniture up against it and a regular size photo frame will either be too small or too big. My particular wall is only two feet in width and is right beside a bedroom door so even a small side table against the wall would prevent full access to the bedroom.

Why maps? You ask. Well, the concept for my whole redesign is connection. (More on that in the later post.) And those locations are where all us family members are located. It ties back in with the concept, I promise. ;) Here's the steps to create a similar deco but custom made to fit your needs:

Supplies Needed:
A sheet of Form Core (I couldn't find that in Malaysia, so foam from Popular - RM4.70 per sheet - will have to do!) Make sure its large enough for the pieces you want cut out of it!
A xacto knife (Again, I'm in a foreign country and all my supplies aren't with me so I used a very sharp small kitchen knife and sharpened it very often!)
A cutting board or a huge stack of newspaper!
Your printed out maps - more on how I made these below.
Ribbon (I got mine from Popular for RM6.90)
Glue, Tape, or some form of adhesive (Rubber cement would work great!)

To make your maps:
I simply went on Google Maps, found my location and zoomed in until I was happy with it and then took a screenshot. I then opened this image in Photoshop and played around with the Filter options until I found one I liked. (Filter > Texture > Texturized) This gives the image a canvas printed look. Once I was finished Photoshopping the image, I pulled it into an InDesign file, setting the paper size as the normal letter size (A4 - 8.5"x11").  Zoom and let the frame crop your image as desired. I also inserted an empty rectangular frame at the size of 6" x 6" to see where exactly my borders would be. You do not want to print the maps the exact size of the foam core, you want map to cover the edges when you wrap the paper around. Once this is completed, use InDesign's text tool to write the name of the location on the map and also as a title as desired. You are now ready to print.

With all your supplies at hand, you are now ready to start!

1) Cut the form core to the desired size. I decided on three 6"x6" squares so I drew those squares onto the foam and then double checked that it was actually square by using the diagonal rule. The diagonal rule is that if both diagonals are equal in length, it is an exact square with every corner at 90 degrees. If you have a triangle ruler around, I would use that as well to make sure each corner is exactly 90 degrees. When you are sure of your lines, you are ready to cut. Don't worry too much if the edges are jagged, it is tough cutting foam, but the edges will not show as we are wrapping the paper maps around them.

The trick when cutting foam/foam core is to not cut it all in one stroke. In fact, depending on how thick the foam is, I would suggest three or more strokes to make one cut in the foam. Use your first stroke to make a groove, your second to define that groove even more, and your third (or final if more than three strokes are needed) to actually cut the form all the way through.

2) Now you have your three foam core squares you are ready to wrap the maps around them. Place the foam square behind one of your paper maps and align them up as desired. Then trace the square contour on the back of the paper. Then draw a border around the square you drew, giving it at least an inch extra, thus your square will measure around 8"x 8" now. Then cut the corners out as such:
You are now ready to cut your paper maps out to the outline you have drawn. Be careful now to cut off your corner tabs, they are crucial!

 3) Time to wrap! Wrap it as if you were wrapping a present and pay extra attention to the corners! Its all about craftsmanship. If you are using rubber cement as your adhesive, apply that on your paper map and on your foam separately and allow it to dry first. Rubber cement works best that way.
4) Finally, it is time for the ribbon. Cut one piece in the desired length for the ribbon behind the map squares that will be connecting all the squares together. The ribbon I got was translucent so I doubled the length and made it layer twice. I then tied it so that there was a loop to hook around the screw on the wall. Glue on the squares to the ribbon as desired. Cut another piece of ribbon for the bow on the top and tie that on to the early piece of ribbon, right below the screw. Taa-daa! You are done!

(Sorry for the horrible resolution. Blogger takes the picture and throws resolution down the drain.)

Friday, July 12, 2013

This is For You

So I'm not black, I'm not white. I'm barely even yellow. I don't speak my native language. I can only speak one language. I didn't grow up in my native country. I'm a TCK (third-culture kid), PK (pastor's kid) and MK (missionary's kid) all in one. I didn't even stay in one place long enough to finish elementary school at one school. I grew up in New England. I lived on the equator in Asia. I love the South and am a country girl. I skipped middle school. I was home schooled. I finished high school at the age of 16. I've flown on airplanes more than any other public transportation system combine. I moved out of my parent's home also at age 16 to start my life all alone in a state university I'd never been to and didn't know a single person in the radius of 6 hours.

Just last Friday, I was reading a book review about a book that was "written very specifically to Christian, conservative home schooled girls." And while I fit into that category, I don't at the same time. I went to a PK camp a few years back. Sure there were some things that the PKs shared in common with me, but at the same time, my extremely varied demographics made us far from similar. And although I fit into a lot of broad demographic categories, all my other demographics that are so diverse and unique make me completely different.

This is for you.

You, out there in the big world, wondering where you fit in. You, in the quiet of your room, questioning where you belong. You, wondering if there is someone out there that is exactly like you. You, crying unseen tears, when no one understands why you're so different. You, trying so very hard to conform into your society. You, exhausted from trying to be someone you're not. This message is for you.

There's not going to be anyone else with a similar life story as you. Stop trying to fit in. Stop trying to be someone you're not. Embrace your uniqueness. Take pride in it. Take your identity from it. Know that there are others that are in the same boat as you too. We form the demography of the demographically-varied. We're so unique but we're similar in the sense that there's no one else like us.

I was there once. I used to question whether I was American or Asian. I discovered that I was neither. I used to try to fit in. "PKs, let's have a camp!" And I would be the first one to signed up because I wanted to be able to fit into one category. Just one. Home-schoolers, over here! And I would run over. TCKs, this book is for you. And I would be reading it straight away. Only to discover that I wasn't like all the other PKs, I wasn't like all the other home-schoolers, and the TCK book wasn't even close to relevant.

In all that searching, in all that trying to belong, I stumbled across something.


And I realized that was enough.