Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hung Up

Somehow all of my titles are ending with the word "up." Better to be up than down, I suppose?

I spent my down time over the weekend making four more watercolor maps, for a total of five. The collection now consists of Austin, Honolulu, Staunton, New Orleans, and Vancouver, which is the short list of places John and I have been together. I don't think the list is going to get much longer in any hurry, so I'm thinking about making a world map on a canvas that we can put little pins in to show where each of us has been individually, since that list is significantly longer.

I used the exact same method as I did on the Austin map to do the others. I also built up the courage to write the name of the city on the map. I went through some fonts at looking for ones that captured the feeling of each city. is an amazing website that has a gazillion free fonts. You just install them on your computer (it's super easy) and then you can use them like you would any other font (in Word, Photoshop, etc.). I literally spent night after night looking through hundreds of pages of fonts this past semester. Sad, I know, but I really love fonts.

For Staunton I wanted a font that's classic but cute. The city is small, has gorgeous historic buildings, is really green and cute and has a slow-paced earthy lifestyle. I wanted Vancouver to be interesting but not over the top or crazy. We loved it there--it was clean, gorgeous, everyone was very friendly, and the taxis were all Priuses! It wasn't too eclectic though so I wanted to keep it pretty simple. I wanted Austin to have a little more flair because we are a fun place, after all! The font I ended up with just so happens to be the main font on our wedding invitation because that's how much I love it. I wanted New Orleans to be a little more off the wall. Lastly, Honolulu, which I wanted it to be cute but laid back and not too frilly. So below is what I chose for each of them (and under each of them in white is the name of the font, incase you want to find it).

The next decision was how to write the city name. I considered using water color, but it's hard to control and I was worried the brown I had wasn't going to be dark enough. The other option was Sharpie, but I was worried it would bleed, so I got a scrap piece of watercolor paper and put some green on to test it out. To my surprise it didn't bleed much! I decided to go with that... but now I was really nervous, because if I messed up it would be permanent. The pressure was on.

I printed the fonts out for reference and got to it. 

Staunton is easier to see in person... in case you can't tell it's in the bottom right hand corner.

New Orleans is also easier to see in person... it's in the middle of the largest rectangle, which is actually Audubon Park.

Two things you may (or may not) have noticed. First, Honolulu and New Orleans are portrait instead of landscape. The reason for that is that for each map, I really tried to pick a part of the city that was sort of iconic in my eyes. The part of Austin I used has Zilker, Barton Springs, and my mom's house, and it's just a fun part of the city. For Staunton, I used the main part of the city where John and I spent a day walking around going to a farmer's market, antique shops, and dinner with my aunt and uncle. The Vancouver map is centered around the hotel we stayed in and all of the streets we explored. The reason I went portrait for Honolulu is that I wanted to show a lot of the beach, and I thought it looked strange in landscape. I originally wanted to include my grandparents' house, but they're a little bit north of where this map ends and I would have either had to ditch some of the water or zoom out. Zooming out would have meant teeny tiny squares, plus it wouldn't be the same scale as the other maps. So, I opted to include a lot of beach plus some other places we always go to when we visit. Once John pointed out that I needed to add New Orleans to the list of places we've been together (I had forgotten until just he mentioned it a few days ago), I figured I should do it in portrait to even things out a little. It let me include the majority of Tulane and all of Audubon Park, plus some water.

The second thing is that the lines on the colored squares in the latter four maps are much crisper than they are on the Austin map. I think I must have used a lot less water once I got the hang of using the paints. On the Austin map I was constantly finding myself with too much water on the paper which made the colors lighter and more washed out looking. I can't decide which way I like better, but I'm sort of glad it worked out this way. The Austin map stands out as being a little different, so when we (theoretically) have a wall full of these maps your eye will always be drawn to home.

The next task was putting them in frames and getting them up on the wall. I went back to Michael's a few days ago planning to use my 50% off coupon to get the floating frames I love. They were actually on sale for 40% off, and the coupon was only good on regular-priced items, so I just went with the 40% off. I did a little rendering in Photoshop so I could figure out how I wanted to arrange them on the wall. I wanted balance but not symmetry which turned out to be pretty tricky. After a few tries I ended up with this.

The next step was to trace the frames on newspaper and mark where the nail would go. This is an awesome method YHL uses that lets you put the paper on the wall and play around with exactly where you want everything before you drill holes/nail things in. After you get things where you want them you know exactly where to put your nail/screw because you've already made your hole! Here's my arrangement taped to the wall.

After I got everything evenly spaced I drilled my holes, screwed in my nails, and hung 'em up!

The walls look really obnoxious in these pictures because there's zero natural light in our upstairs hallway where these are hung... it's more of a soft light blue-seafoam green. It's definitely not so neon-BAM-in-your-face.

Anyway, after allllll of that watercoloring (and boy was it a lot), I'm happy with the end result. I love having all of them next to each other and seeing how differently all of the cities are set up.

Next on the to do list is either a world map or maybe a watercolor of our house? Who knows. Either way, I think my hand needs a little break.

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