Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wrestling with the World......(map)

I thought of my father today....well, you could say I think of him everyday, but today I had a very distinct recollection of a morning we spent at a nearby lake when I was nine years old.  I'll fill you in on why I had this memory at the end of the post....

My husband and I have been looking for a world map to display in our home for ages.  The two of us, along with all four of our children, are serious geography buffs.  We love to travel and to dream of traveling.  It has always been our plan to display a nice map and put coordinating pins on the places we've lived and visited.  Being a military family, that would mean lots of space filled on the map.

We always had a map on the wall when our children were young.  You know the kind, the rolled up $4.99 Rand McNally map from Walmart.  We even had little cutouts of an aircraft carrier and helicopters to help the children keep up with their father's deployments.  I have saved all those maps, but they are too precious to mount and display.

Now that three of our children are adults ~ and one is very close to adulthood ~ we are finding they have traveled more than their mother and almost as much as their father.  Our two oldest sons have even lived on three different continents, with one son getting ready to add a fourth to his list this month.  So, we really feel the need to hurry up with the map.

The perfect map has eluded me because of the price.  I found one
that was perfect, but the cost of $389.00 was not.  So, I searched for a print or poster that we could live with.  I found the perfect poster at Barnes and Noble, and it cost only $7.50!  I had remembered seeing a blog post (I'm so sorry I can't remember the name of the blog) where someone had mounted a large poster on a piece of foam core.  I thought that was a great idea, but I wanted something a bit thicker.  My first thought was a piece of plywood, but that would be too heavy.  Styrofoam didn't come in a size large enough (we needed 32 x 50) and it was also too expensive. So, off we went yesterday to my favorite store, Home Depot.  I found the perfect material ~ a large sheet of insulation board.  It comes in a 4' x 8' sheet and is 1.5" thick.  The cost.....................$7.50!  So, we pulled it off the shelf, paid for it, and out the door we went.

There was one small problem with our purchase, however.  We had taken my husband's small car to Home Depot...not my Honda Pilot.  You can imagine the entertainment we provided for all the customers in the parking lot.  Luckily, I had a tape measure and my husband had a multi-blade tool in his glove box.  So we measured and cut until we had several pieces of insulation board that would fit in the car.  That was not one of my better DIY moments.

This project, which I was very excited to start because of the expected ease of the procedure, was completed today.  The words "excited" and "ease" should have never been used.  It was early on that I became less excited and realized it would not be an easy job.  It took all day.  So, here we go....I took some lemons and wrestled them into lemonade ~ a bit sour, but still tasty enough to serve.

It all started off okay.  I cut the board to the exact dimensions of the poster.  I painted the edges with my favorite "around the house" color of Raw Umber to match the poster.  I was able to sand the edges before I painted them with a sanding block.  The board actually took on a wooden look as it was sanded and painted.  I was pretty pleased with how things were going and then disaster struck.



My first mistake was spraying the repositionable adhesive needed to adhere the poster to the board outside.  It is unseasonably hot here in San Diego ~ a cool 94 degrees today.  I could not spray the adhesive indoors because of the fumes.  The garage was inaccessible because we have the contents of my son's apartment, which he  just moved out of last week, filling the entire space.  So, outside I went.  I sprayed the adhesive on the board, quickly ran the board inside and started rolling the poster out on the surface.  My husband had to help me with this to make sure we got the poster lined up properly.  * One tip I've learned over the years is to re-roll the picture or poster that you are using so that it faces inward instead of how it was packaged for sale facing outward.  That way, it is ready to roll onto your prepared surface.

So, the poster rolled out perfectly and seemed to adhere properly.  The next step was to seal the poster with several coats of sealant.  I am a Mod Podge fanatic, so I turned to my bottle of matte finish Mod Podge and went to work.  As soon as I started to go over the surface with the Mod Podge, the adhesive started to give way.  The poster was no longer sticking to the surface and was rolling up with every stroke of my sponge brush.  I almost cried and was ready to chuck the whole project in the garbage bin, but then I regrouped.  I quickly, pulled the entire poster off the board (thank goodness it was "repositionable" adhesive), poured almost half the bottle of Mod Podge onto the board and started smoothing it out like cement being poured for a sidewalk.  Once the board was covered, I laid the poster back on the board and started smoothing out the wrinkles caused by the evaporating spray adhesive.  I was literally wrestling with time, the poster, and the Mod Podge.  OK, maybe I was only figuratively wrestling with them.  Anyway, I'm told by my husband and son that the whole process was quite the sight to see.  I was in repair mode and did not even notice them watching.  My husband has learned over the years to give me space and not let his presence be known if I am in "project-panic" mode.

See all the wrinkles!

The poster was finally affixed to the board.  The only problem was that there were more wrinkles on the poster than on a cute little Shar-pei's face. So, I just sealed the entire surface with Mod Podge, left the room, and waited.  As I returned to the map, each coat of Mod Podge made it a bit more presentable.  The final decision was to allow the map to be displayed and see if it grows on us.

Our plan is to put red push pins on locations where we have lived and black ones on locations we have visited.

Looks like we need to buy lots more push pins ~ we ran out!

In viewing all the wrinkles and bubbles on the  map, I was reminded of that morning I mentioned earlier with my father.  One summer, he allowed me to use all the scraps he had from his many building projects to build my own creation.  I worked for weeks on my first boat.  I was so proud.  I planed the wood, assembled it with care, and then gave it the perfect paint job.  Then, it was time to take it to the lake for its first launch.  I can remember how very excited I was to see my creation on the water.  We put the boat near the shore, gave it a bit of a push and sank!  I was devastated.  I had my very own Barbie and Ken on board and now they were going down with the ship.  With tears in my eyes, I looked to my father and he simply said, "That is the most amazing submarine I have ever seen."  In an instant, he had taken my disappointment and turned it into hope and pride.  I was proud of my submarine.  My dad was right.  Ken and Barbie, inside the cabin of the boat, oops, now submarine, surfaced with hardly a drop of water on them......  So, back to my map.  When my husband and I were first viewing the wrinkles that appeared, we both looked at each other and said, "We now have a new relief map".  Of course, our version has mountain ranges in areas that do not really have mountains, but that's okay.  Being reminded of my father and his kind words was worth the entire day, start to finish.