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Art Project: Maps & Money

After you come back from a trip you’ve probably got a lot of what I call “trip detritus”. You know what I’m talking about – ticket stubs, maps, random left over foreign currency, etc. What do you do with all of that?

Today I’m focusing on two very specific bits of travel "what not" – maps and money. Don’t underestimate the possibility of either as potential art. Here are a couple of ideas of how to turn your trip trash into travel treasures!


I always save maps. One, because, ya just never know when you might go back. And two, you might know someone else who will be going to that destination who might be able to use it. If neither of those options is likely, here’s a third option – use the maps for art!

Quilt your maps: I used to quilt with my aunt. It’s one of my fondest memories of being with her. So, I’ve taken my map collection and combined it with my (basic) quilting skills to create a a completely cool piece of art.

As a first try, I used a fairly easy diagonal pattern, but depending on your skill level, you could get more intricate. My next try will probably be some sort of star or lattice pattern, but you could certainly use any other quilting design – or even create your own. You can find quilting patterns online and download many for free. Although I have quilting patterns and other quilting tools, you don’t need any special equipment. You'll probably have the necessary tools - scissors, craft glue or a glue stick, and a picture frame.

To assemble the diagonal pattern, I turned over the paper that comes in the frame so the plain side is up and placed the border over it. I found the rough center of that paper by drawing a line halfway from the long side and half way from the short side. Next I marked the intersection of those two lines with a pencil. Then, I removed the border. I cut 2 inch wide diagonal strips from various maps and arranged them in order starting from the center point out (you do that in quilting). You can use any width, 2 inches is just what I chose. I glued the strips down, waited for them to dry, then placed the border over the "map quilt". Finally, I placed the "quilt" in the frame, and there you go!

I bought picture frames on a buy one, get one free sale at a craft store. I also used a $10 gift card that I got as a giveaway. I ended up paying about $11 for two frames – about $6.50 each! Nice!

Use a map as a background: You can always use a map as a photo background to display in. I used a map as a background to display money, which I’ll talk about next.


Art: Some currencies are stunning pieces of art, but need a background. I adapted the “map as background” idea to display money. This was easier to create than the “map quilt”. I selected a map that I wanted for a background and sorted through the money. I had a collection of money from countries that don’t exist any longer, currency that is no longer used, or money I kept as a souvenir.

I laid the money out in several different patterns to determine which I liked best. With a glue stick and craft glue, I secured the money to the map, waited for the glue to dry and it was done! I used one of the frames that I bought above to display. Super easy.

Make jewelry: full disclosure, I am not crafty enough to make jewelry. I mean really cool jewelry. But, if you aren’t super talented at jewelry making, perhaps you have a friend who is. A friend of mine at Butterfly Gypsy Studio, took a coin I had and made a fabulous pendant. It's so spectacular! Just look! You can find Butterfly Gypsy Studio on Facebook!

Even if you’re "craft challenged" like me, you can still make cool stuff to wear that will be a conversation piece. I went to a craft store and bought a package of pinch clasps. Although I am craft deficient, I am decent with a drill, so I took some coins and drilled holes in them. Then I attached the pinch clasps. I used chains that I already had and voila!

No matter what you try, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just a creative way to use your trip leftovers to make memories rather than letting things become clutter. If you’re interested in more ideas, here’s an earlier post I wrote about using your travel trash!

Have you used your trip trash to make travel memories? I’d love to hear about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope’s comment section.


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