Time Wandering

It’s funny how easy it is to remember every potential reason not to work on a hobby and yet forget why you liked it in the first place. My first foray into the world of screen printing was the summer before I began college, and it was a delightful and rather successful experience. Then I headed off to Southern California for school. With classes and homework there was no time for art projects; plus, you can forget about trying to make prints in a dorm room shared with two other girls. Although I graduated last spring, I didn’t return to screen printing until just last week. Between vacations, commutes, and a lack of studio space, there were enough reasons not to bother with sketching a design, making a screen, getting out ink and then newspaper to avoid staining floors, pulling prints, and cleaning everything up again. But I had planned to make a desk calendar for Boyfriend based on maps from our summer trip to Europe, and with the end of the semester drawing near the pressure was on to get them done (Boyfriend goes home for Christmas, and his home is very very far away)–so I disregarded the trouble and the mess and dived in. And I remembered that I love screen printing.

Clearly, this project has been in the works for a long time. You may remember my mini-calendar post from a few weeks ago, in which I stated my initial idea for a map-based desk calendar. Once I started, I discovered the rather long process of hand cutting stencils from printed city maps–it turns out this is quite difficult and headache inducing with very small maps (luckily Mom helped, as in Mom did it for me after the first map). However, screen printing was fast, simple, and fun, and totally worth the effort of cutting. Finally–finally–I have the final product: a medium-sized 2012 desk calendar, including a screen printed map from each city we visited. Full instructions for making your own City Maps Desk Calendar can be found at the end of this post.


Maps fascinate me for so many reasons. They’re graphic and abstract, yet so organized. They can be very modern or nostalgic and vintage. They remind me of travel and of the cities I’ve wandered, and the places I still hope to explore. So it’s nice that starting January 1, I’ll have a daily reminder of maps and all the meaning they carry every time I sit down at my desk. This project was inspired by an illustrated map of Madrid Mom found in a magazine, but there are infinite gorgeous variations on this theme. Here are a few more maps  I adore:

Counterclockwise from top:
1. Typographic Linocut Map of Paris Arrondissements by Abigail Deker
2. Stockholm from MAPS: Illustrated Series by Lena Corwin
3. Custom wedding invitations by Heather Ross

Clockwise from left:
1. Handcut Neighborhood Map of Manhattan by Lekker Haas Paper
2. Paris the Handcut Paper Map by Lekker Haas Paper
3. Madrid illustrated map by Monika Roe

City Maps Desk Calendar Details
Plain card stock (for stencils)
Card stock (color of your choice–for screen printing on)
Craft knife
Silkscreen and squeegee
Ink (one color or multiple is fine–I used black and white and mixed for greys)
A quality ballpoint pen with ink that will show up well on your chosen color of card stock
12 city maps (I found mine be searching for the city on Google images)–I recommend using cities that have some meaning to you, whether it’s places you’ve lived or just want to visit.
If you have no experience with printmaking and want more detailed instructions, there are numerous books on the subject. Design*Sponge recommends Print Workshop.

You can make this calendar any size you want, but mine is approximately 6″ x 8.” I computer-printed the maps I found on Google as 4″ x 6″ photos (resized to fit, NOT cropped to fit), but you can adjust this measurement depending on how large you want your calendar to be. Since you will be cutting out pieces for the stencils, however, I do not recommend printing your maps smaller than 4″ x 6″–if you want a smaller calendar, simply decrease the sizing of your lettering and spacing of your days and numbers while leaving the map the same size.

After printing, I used my craft knife to cut out pieces of the map, creating a stencil that looked like in the bottom right photo below.

As you can see, streets remain surrounding negative space that has been cut out. When you pull your prints, ink will fill these areas, and the streets will appear as negative space, like in the photos above.

You may be wondering why I used stencils for this project instead of creating a true silkscreen through photo emulsion. Quite simply, it’s cheaper that way–photo emulsion would be no less time consuming, and would require twelve different screens, an option not within my budget for this project. While this is not really a true silkscreen print, the results and printing process are the same.

To pull your prints, place a large piece of newspaper on a hard, flat surface (to avoid inking your work surface). Place the card stock you chose for making your map prints down, place the stencil onto your paper, and then put the silkscreen on top of everything–your stencil should be sandwiched between the card stock and the screen. Using a spoon or a squirt bottle, spread a thick line of ink at the top of your stencil and using the squeegee, pull the ink towards you. Do this once more, this time pulling the ink away from you. Carefully lift up the screen and stencil, and place your print somewhere safe to dry. If you are switching colors for the next print, wash your screen and squeegee before beginning this process again. If possible, have someone assist you by holding down the screen while you pull the ink over the stencil to keep everything from shifting–this way you don’t have to hold with one hand and pull with the other. However, this method will be just fine if you’re working alone.

While your prints dry, prepare your calendar pages. On each page, carefully write out the month, city, days of the week, and numbered dates, leaving an appropriate amount of space for each map print (you may want to measure each map and softly mark where it will sit on the page to avoid any overlap issues). You can also print these on the computer if you prefer not to hand write your calendars.

Once your maps are dry, cut them out and attach to the calendar page using scrapbooking adhesive. Wrap it up with a nice ribbon and slip it under the tree!

7 Responses to “Time Wandering”
  1. Adrianna says:

    this is really beautiful! I definitely think its always good to make time for things you love :)

  2. Love it! Will try this out! Don’t know if I have the patience to do the silk screen though. hahaha! :)

  3. Lisa says:

    your map calendar is gorgeous!

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  1. […] Time Wandering (December 10, 2011) While yarn and fabric are fun, my favorite media are always paint and paper. […]

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