My Original Vintage Map Journals

Vintage map journal of the glorious Lake District

Choose your vintage map journal from my Etsy shop. Or contact me with the place or area you are interested in and I’ll do my best to make that journal for you!

Where it all Began…..

In 1978, my parents moved to Australia. Like all of us they had a houseful of “stuff” to sort through. What to take? What to dispose of? And what about all the stuff in between, the stuff that they couldn’t justify taking all the way to a new life in Australia, but which was too embedded in their own history to just give away to strangers or throw away?

That’s where the vintage map journals began. My Dad had a complete set of the Bartholomews linen backed maps. They were all half inch to the mile, covering all of England, Scotland and Wales. 62 in total – that’s a lot of maps! They had been his mainstay for motoring since he had owned his first car back in the 1950s. He had collected them gradually over the years. I remember us all pouring over them in the excitement of planning our summer holidays. We then used them every day to follow the routes we took, hoping we would always end up at the seaside of course!

Anyway, these were too precious in my Dad’s eyes to be discarded. So he boxed them up and presented them to me. His parting words were “Here you go, these will be useful”

Interestng, yes, but useful? Not really. They were aleady way out of date in 1978. But I didn’t feel I could give them away or throw them out, so into a cupboard they went. And there they stayed for more than 30 years!

The Idea for Map Journals

Then one day back in about 2014, I got some of these old vintage maps out. I got completely absorbed in the detail. The cities and towns were so small and there wasn’t a single motorway in sight. There were railway lines that have been closed for many years and little minor roads to what are now major resorts. If I found them interesting, then other people would too. But how could I upcycle them to increase their appeal and be saleable? It was suddenly obvious: I could make them into vintage map journals.

I wanted to keep the integrity of the map so users of the journal could get a slice of how an area used to look. It might be their birthplace or somewhere they remembered from past holidays for instance. With the growing interest in genealogy, the journals might appeal to people whose research had led them to family roots they had been unaware of. So many possibilities!

And so I set out on designing an original way of turning maps into journals!

The Design of my Vintage Map Journals

First, I acquire a vintage map in the best condition I can find. All the maps I use are over 50 years old! They have probably travelled a great deal so I need to try and source the best ones I can, without any annotations or other marks left by previous owners! But I regard some additional features to be a treasured bonus. See the sticker with the address of the bookshop where this map was originally stocked?

I unfold the map and cut it into three strips, horizontally, ready to make three map journals. That way, each journal or notebook will comprise a continuous section of the map.

For each map there will be a north section, a mid section and a south section. The north section will include the original map cover,

Next I fold the strip back on itself and stick it down. A bit of trimming of the edges and I have the skeleton of the journal.

I then cut lots of paper to make the inserts: squared, lined and plain – a laborious process by hand and, unsurprisingly, one of my least favourite jobs!

The next job is to stitch the paper into the folds of the map to make it into a notebook, journal and sketchpad. I stitch two sections of paper on one side of the folded map and one section on the other side.

Once the journal is in use it is straightforward for the user to replenish their journal with fresh paper. They can take the old paper out and either stitch new paper in, or attach it with a plain or colourful elastic band.

Finishing off the Map Journal

Finally, I stitch a loop into the spine of the journal and add a cotton baker’s twine tie.

And they’re ready to go! Each journal measures about 7.5″ by 4″ (19cm by 11 cm) and contains 60 pages of paper (20 plain, 20 lined and 20 squared). Different paper types add interest to the journal and make it multipurpose: notebook, sketch book, diary, planner etc. I have also had customers use them for their family history research, for visitors books and for planning a special trip, amongst other things.

You can browse all the different map journals and buy them in my Etsy shop or contact me if you can’t see the area or place you are looking for!

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