This article originally appeared in the spring 2010 issue of Somerset Memories.
Cartographic Travel Journal: ‘Home’
For several years I didn’t fly, so my husband and I embarked on many road trips around America. One of the places we travel to most often is South Dakota, my home state. In my opinion, no road trip is complete without an artful travel journal to document one’s discoveries. I’ve always been intrigued by maps, and so I found myself drawing upon them as one of the main sources of inspiration for my travel books. I purchase the used maps and atlases for my travel journals at library book sales, antique stores, and second hand book stores.
For a road trip from Texas to the Black Hills in 2008, I pre-assembled my journal from map pages and other ephemera. After preparing the pages, I bound them together with my Bind-it-All machine, but any binding method would work. I typically bind my journals after a trip for more flexibility, but this time I wanted it ready to go.
To create the front and back covers of the journal, I measured and cut thin mat board to size with a box cutter. After selecting the map pieces to attach to the covers, I placed the cut mat board on top of a piece of waxed paper. Using an inexpensive chip brush (available at paint stores) with the bristles trimmed down to one inch, I quickly covered the mat board with a thin, even layer of Elmer’s glue. I then eased the map onto the glued side, using my bone folder as I went to push out bubbles and wrinkles. On the inner sides of the covers, I repeated this process using decorative paper.
When gluing covers in this manner, it’s important to then place the covers separately between sheets of waxed paper and under piles of large books or other heavy, flat items. Try to leave them there overnight. This will allow your covers to dry evenly and nicely, without warping. After my covers dried completely, I used spray ink and stencils to add the title ‘Home’ and a bird image.
In order to be able to write on the pages legibly without too much of the map showing through, I lightly applied gesso to the maps of the states that we would cross along our way. To do this, I first cut the maps to the size I wanted them to be, using a paper trimmer. I then laid them out on a covered table and lightly applied three layers of white gesso, letting it dry between each layer. I applied gesso to both sides of the maps. Enough of the maps peek through on the edges and beneath that you can still enjoy the fact that they’re maps, but they’re opaque enough to clearly write on as well. You may need to experiment with your gesso, depending on brand and thickness.
I also included postcards from past trips and various tags that I already had in my stash as pages. I felt the postcards would fit in better with the rest of the album if I used sandpaper to rough up their glossy finishes. Additionally, I used pretty pieces of stationery for some pages. I also used rubber stamps, rub-ons, stencils, and other supplies to embellish the pages. I am particularly fond of spray ink and used it both on its own as well as over stencils on several pages. I added ribbon tabs to some pages, attaching them with staples.
Each day, I wrote in the journal using American Crafts Slick Writer markers. After the trip, I attached photos and ephemera to the pages using staples or other adhesives. I’d purchased a vintage fabric pouch at a thrift store which I used to store and protect the journal between entries, and to carry the ephemera I picked up along the way. I love the way this journal turned out with lots of different sized pages and surprises with each turn.
We like to find a different route to the same place as often as possible when we travel. On this trip, he took us through parts of rural Nebraska. We drove through the tiny town of Broadwater, where we spotted an old hotel painted in stripes of bold color. It was so scenic that we couldn’t resist taking photos. I also love and miss spring in South Dakota, so I always take many photos of flowering trees and other northern plants that we don’t have in Texas. I include these nature and landscape photos, along with photos of friends and family, in my travel books.
My travel journals are artifacts of adventures, journeys to both unseen and familiar parts of the country, and time with loved ones. I can’t wait for our next trip and the travel journal to go with it!
Heidi Swapp (reverse mask)
Rebecca Sower old typewriter font
Vintage wooden font from yard sale
Tools & Materials:
Maps or old atlases of the places you’re traveling to or through
Decorative paper and stationery, shipping tags, postcards
Ephemera (tea bag tags, fortunes from fortune cookies, business cards, receipts, other inspiring images)
Photos, wallet-sized and 4 x 6
Full sheet of thin mat board
Ink pads and rubber stamps
Adhesives – Herma, white school glue
Stickers and rub-ons
Stencils and reverse stencils
Zutter Bind-it-all or other binding method
Stapler and staples
Archival safe markers for writing
Sewn or purchased fabric pouch to store journal