Map Out a Fabric Collage for Your Textile Art

3 Mar 2014

I love a good map. I think this fascination started as a child when my family took road trips all over New England. We would pile into the family sedan, my father always driving, and my mother always knitting in the front seat. A sleeve of peppermint Life Savers would be passed around, in hopes of keeping the three siblings in the back seat quiet, and the trip would begin.

My mixed-media fiber collage, "Ancestral Home."
In a short while, the glove compartment would open and the maps would emerge. I remember being the one who would mark the journey we were taking, always interested in finding the shortest route, the most scenic view, and the tallest mountain. Then I'd heave a sigh of relief if I could coax the map back into its previous folded shape without creating an outcry from my siblings who would complain if the map encroached on any of their precious space (I always sat in the middle).

Fast forward (ahem) at least 40 years, and not much has changed. My husband always drives. I am the one sitting in the front seat knitting, and our four children all have love/hate relationships with each other as well as with the maps we pass to the back seat. Of course, the GPS has changed our navigation, but the maps of New England still live in our glove compartment "just in case."

Several years ago I started using vintage maps as the bases of my fabric collages. I am always on the lookout for beautiful maps (whose copyright has expired) to use in my work.

The nest in my fiber collage "Ancestral Home" was built upon an island created from scraps of two maps of Ohio. The three stone "eggs" represents me and my siblings. This piece, which I created in 2011, hangs in my studio as a reminder of my beginnings.

The nest is made of snippets of fabric, fibers, threads, and paper I've saved from cutting supplies for other projects. If you don't have scraps at the ready, you can layer some fabrics on your cutting mat and use a rotary cutter and ruler to slice off snippets at least 3" long.

I arranged the fabrics and fibers like a bird feathering its nest, and played with colors until I found a combination I liked. Then I free-motion stitched the scraps together onto the paper and fabric base using colored thread on top and monofilament in the bobbin.

I don't always use nests in my textile art, but birds do feature prominently in my map collages. They perch on the shores of the Great Lakes in several of my pieces, and I have made many new pieces since beginning this series. So far I have always used the original maps, but I'm considering using copies in the future so I can focus my resources on creating more collages instead of searching for the maps.

I love fabric collage, because it allows me to build something out of the fabric scraps, ephemera, and fibers I collect along my fiber art journey.

Where are you going with your quilting and fiber art journey? With March being National Craft Month, I encourage you to take this opportunity and explore new techniques, delve further into favorite ones, and maybe try a fabric collage or two using bit and pieces from your past travels.

We have all the inspiration and directions you need in the Quilting Daily Shop. Consider us a GPS for your art!

P.S. Do you still use maps or have you moved on to the GPS? Leave a comment below.


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Comments

sftwrqn wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 8:27 AM

I travel throughout the US extensively and, of course, rely heavily on a GPS - but a GPS is designed to get you from point A to point B with no idea of what is in-between.  I recently purchased a new Rand McNally Atlas that has the full maps as well as bar codes that will direct you (via Smartphone) to local attractions.  I too, am a child of the "map" era.  I still love the romance of imagining what is "just down the road".

on 4 Mar 2014 8:41 AM

I love maps and have called myself a "maphead" after hearing someone else call themselves the same.  Have even dabbled in navigation as a boat owner on offshore fishing vacations.  All that to say that I  love to study maps to "see" where I am going, where I have been, all that is in between and how it all relates.   The idea of using maps for creative projects makes this "maphead" very happy!  (Now where did I put all those old maps?)  Chris

on 4 Mar 2014 8:41 AM

I love maps and have called myself a "maphead" after hearing someone else call themselves the same.  Have even dabbled in navigation as a boat owner on offshore fishing vacations.  All that to say that I  love to study maps to "see" where I am going, where I have been, all that is in between and how it all relates.   The idea of using maps for creative projects makes this "maphead" very happy!  (Now where did I put all those old maps?)  Chris

on 4 Mar 2014 10:07 AM

I love the independence  I feel having the gps. I am directionally challenged. In other words I get lost easy but with the gps I drive any place without fear. I LOVE GPS.

kitkat1223 wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 10:34 AM

I use a GPS, but like a paper map to plan out a trip such as the one we are going on next month.  The paper map gives you the overview of where you are going, while the GPS provides the turn by turn on how to get to the end point.

rmgs wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 10:58 AM

I still use maps.  Not interested in GPS.  My son, an Eagle scout, got lost when relying on his GPS as he had programmed in the end location of his trip and it gave him a completely different route than the one we always take.  When I asked him why he didn't pull out a map he said he didn't have any in his car!!!  I don't think children are learning how to read a map these days.

prudence4 wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 2:14 PM

I love maps and still use them all the time. I like to take the scenic side roads sometimes and maps come in handy for that. You have inspired me to try to put old ones in my fiber art. Thank you!

Eileen174 wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 2:51 PM

I love the ancestral home quilt and would like to have the instructions with this.  Is this possible?

Eileen174 wrote
on 4 Mar 2014 4:26 PM

I really like this piece of work, the Ancestral Home and would greatly appreciate the instructions on how it was created.  Is this possible?  Thank you.

on 6 Mar 2014 5:00 PM

I'm a "maps" girl. Those new fangled gadgets take the fun out of things. Love your "Ancestral Home". A map that has all its original folds and creases is unloved. When it has marks, bald spots, dog ears, and stains it has lived a useful life.

shm.cats wrote
on 8 Mar 2014 4:50 PM

Quick questions: how do you know if the map's copyright has expired?  Is it a fixed time after the copyright date noted on the image?

BellaBeaty wrote
on 8 Mar 2014 7:57 PM

If you are using the original maps and not duplicating the collage, copyright is not an issue. It's only a consideration if you are copying a map in any way.

shm.cats wrote
on 8 Mar 2014 11:34 PM

wonder why the copyright issue was mentioned.  It seemed to be one of the considerations about which map to use.

cdez wrote
on 17 Mar 2014 10:27 AM

I love this piece and have a lot of old maps to use in collage.  Did you print the map on fabric or use it as paper?