How can I reuse or recycle old maps?

MapWe’ve had a clever suggestion from Shabnam:

This might be an obvious one: but use old maps as wrapping paper! I just used some for to friends who loved it.

Our town hall had sent out maps indicating the energy consumption of each building. Nice to look at, but soon wasted, so I suggested for people to use it as wrapping paper.

Photos posted on my blog.

Good idea, Shabnam! I’ve also seen them used as feature wallpaper. Any other suggestions?

(Photo by singhajay)

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11 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old maps?”

  1. hazel_tree says:

    That is a great idea. Interesting gift wrapping coming up.

    I have recently added some old maps and atlases to my craft pile. So far I have used them for backgrounds on birthday cards, click on my name above to see one example.

    I used to have a writing set made from obsolete OS maps, using the fact that they were blank on the back, but looked nice when you folded them into the envelope. This was a bought set, but can easily be done with other maps and finished with internet map print outs if the size and condition allows.

  2. KJ Scott says:

    You can make envelopes from them. There are templates to be had all over the Web, or you can carefully cut apart any envelope and use it as a template to make more.

    They’re also useful (even coveted) for all kinds of art, particularly collage – ATCs, altered books, blank journal projects (like 1000 journals). If you can’t re-use your old maps yourself, there are plenty of artists out there who would love to have them. You can donate them to a charity shop, or offer them on Freecycle.

  3. Jon says:

    If you have a lot, it would be cool to use as wallpaper. Either on one wall of a room or the whole of a bathroom or something if you don’t have enough for a whole room.

    Origami shapes with maps would make nice ornaments.

  4. Frannie says:

    I learned my world geography from a map jigsaw puzzle as a child. For world maps you can buy jigsaw kits and glue the map overtop (slicing into the grooves with an X-acto knife) for a great educational game for kids. Or better yet, glue over an old jigsaw puzzle you don’t use anymore (or from a yard sale/second-hand shop) and do the same, to reuse 2 things instead of getting new materials.

  5. krobichaux says:

    Consider decoupage on a suitcase, trunk, birdhouse, child’s old phonograph case, dresser or table top with ware or gouges, old worn hardbound books, photo albums, inside dresser drawers or lining in cabinets…
    DECOUPAGE is a great medium.
    Cover with a few coats of polyeurathane and it’ll keep for ages.


  6. nelly says:

    You can make bookcovers out of them. Paper mache them onto something, use it for collages, art projects, etc.

  7. Gulia says:

    Instead of brown bags, bring to work a whimsical bag made of map with your sandwich. This is a great conversation starter.

  8. Gulia says:

    Make a vast out of it for Halloween.

  9. Bad Monkey says:

    Maps? why not donate them to local Scout/Boys Brigade or Girl Guide groups for orienteering practice or to local rambling groups?

  10. Gina says:

    Old maps of any kind make great summer place mats as well as having decorative and educational properties. I bought a very large and hideously expensive but outdated set of nautical maps of Cheseapeake Bay for $3.00 at a thrift shop, laminated some of them with clear contact paper and had a life-time supply of conversation pieces…at least until a little boy begged the rest of the artifacts off me. It turned out he collected maps.

    Any kind of old maps can be laminated and/or nicely framed for atmosphere in a library, or den, or for use in a wine cellar.

  11. Check out Liz Hammen’s work (may not have spelt this correctly)

    Her use of maps is so delicate and so effective.

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