How to Make a Paper Map Basket

Create a recycled, eco-friendly basket from old paper maps.

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Materials and Tools:

paper state highway maps
coffee
coldwater dyes
purple and metallic gold acrylic paints
140# watercolor paper
glue stick
stack of books
weatherproof polyethylene envelope
hair dryer
utility knife
cutting mat
straight edge
metal kabob skewer
white glue
copper wire
seed beads
heat gun (the kind that removes paint)
pasta cutter machine
small metal clips
paintbrushes
acrylic gel medium
waxed linen thread
needles
clothesline and clothespins
scissors

Steps:

1. Paint the map with coffee and several colors of coldwater dyes to give it a rich, aged texture. These dyes are transparent and allow the map features to show through. Add metallic acrylic paint highlight. Dry the map with a hair dryer after each layer is painted. Hang to dry for 1-2 hours.

2. Glue the map to a piece of 140# watercolor paper. Stack books on top and let dry overnight.

3. Paint the back of the watercolor paper with purple acrylic paint. Let dry.

4. While the map is drying, start the polyethylene (indestructible mailing envelope material) beads by painting a piece of the material with metallic gold acrylic paint on one side and purple on the other side. Dry using a hair dryer.

4. Cut the polyethylene into 1-inch strips using a straight edge, utility knife and mat.

5. Wrap the strips around a metal kabob skewer and fasten together with copper wire to form the beads.

6. Heat the beads with a heat gun outside on pavement, then pop the beads off and let them cool. Wrap them with additional wire and seed beads.

7. To prepare the map for weaving, cut it into various sized strips.

  • Cut two 1/2-inch strips and one 3/8-inch strip by hand using a straight edge, utility knife and cutting mat. These pieces will be the rims for the baskets.
  • Cut the rest of the paper into five 1/2-inch strips with the utility knife. Run them through a pasta cutter to obtain uniform smaller strips (1/4-inch strips from the fettuccini setting; 1/8-inch strips from the trenette setting).

8. Weave the base flat on a table using a basic over/under weave. Small metal clips help keep everything in place. As the base is woven, little ears or legs are created for the basket to stand on. This type of base is called a cathead because the legs resemble cat ears.

9. Flip the basket to its side. Put it in your lap and weave the sides with a basic over/under pattern.

10. Trim the spokes even with scissors on the last row of weaving and glue in place with white glue.

11. Cut two 1/2-inch wide strips measuring the perimeter of the basket for the rim.

12. Paint the basket and rims with acrylic gel medium to protect the surface and give the basket additional strength. Let dry overnight.

13. Fit the rims onto the basket, one on the inside top edge and one on the outside top edge, and temporarily hold them in place with clips. Insert several needles between the rim and the basket to determine even placement of the beads. Sew the rim down using a tapestry needle and waxed linen thread. Attach the beads while sewing the rim.

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