Upcycle Progress: Re-used Trail Maps

After a week of sketching, brainstorming, and doodling, I’ve narrowed the scope of my project to something one of a kind that relates to maps, and will enable me to remember some great time that I’ve had in certain locations.  In sticking with the upcycle theme, I brainstormed a detailed list of extra maps, photos, hardware, and more that was laying around my house.  Amongst these were ski trail maps of mountains all over California, Colorado, Vermont, and Washington state.  I also discovered bathymetric ocean maps, a Forest Service map of the West coast, and various maps from National Parks like Crater Lake, Canyonlands, and Yosemite.  Throughout my travels, I’ve created some great memories in all of these locations.

Having compiled a large variety of maps, I tried to group them together to create a common motif.


The above images show a pleasing wooden frame (sourced from a local recycle plant), and the maps laid out according to their location.  The next iteration of this idea is seen below, and shows these maps on a matte of the United states.  The frame was upgraded from regular wood to recycled skis.

Realizing I may have extra ski lengths after the frame is built, I got creative with what I could use them for (seen below).  Mini shot ski?  Ski tip bottle opener?

I realized I did not have any ski maps of the middle part of the country, or the Midwest, and it would look a little barren and boring.  I then transitioned to only using trail maps that were sourced from California, and using the state outline as the matte.

With a design and plan in hand, I looked toward the ITLL and idea forge for implementation.  I took the laser cutter instructional course and discovered a flaw that I was not able to work around. The big limit is that the laser cutter which I was going to use to create the matte was only 24”x36”.  At that size, I would barely fit four maps, and they would be cut off.

To keep the focus on the maps, I did away with a special shaped matte.  Instead, I will try to print out a topographic map on the plotter and use that as my matte.  I will still use the laser printer to engrave the mountain logos into a fancy piece of reclaimed wood.  I have not yet decided where to place that.

With all of these thoughts in mind, below is a sketch of what I anticipate my final product to look like.


Next steps:

Source wood from ReSource in Boulder

Cut frame size at Idea Forge

Cut Maps into shape that was laid out in CAD

Glue maps onto reinforced cardboard/backing

Buy glass cover

Engrave mtn logos onto wood board (separate from frame)

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I have had the same idea: I could look at ski maps all day. I actually have the Winter Park trail map mounted on my wall. You mentioned having difficulties fitting all the maps in the limited space you had on your board-did you consider cutting off the writing on the sides? I don’t think they add to the look. The wood background and the folds in the trail maps look great, very rustic, weathered, etc.

  • I really enjoyed reading through your design process here. Your final design is very intriguing, does it still incorporate the skis as the outer frame? Understandably that is a harder material to find to upcycle.

  • I think this project is very interesting! Not a lot of people use maps anymore and they will soon be a rare item to find.. I like that you are searching for specific maps to connect to one another. This must have taken a lot of creativity and thought in mind. I am excited to see whats next!


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