How to Make a Bangle from a Vintage Map

comments (16) May 7th, 2009     

Pin It

gabizoidal Danielle West, member
Love it! 97 users recommend
I love the look of these bangles and have branched out beyond maps—you can make a bracelet with any appropriately sized image.
The paper should be wider than the bangle.
Thin strips will help reduce the visibility of your seam.
I love the look of these bangles and have branched out beyond maps—you can make a bracelet with any appropriately sized image.

I love the look of these bangles and have branched out beyond maps—you can make a bracelet with any appropriately sized image.

Photo: Danielle West

I absolutely love the look of images from old encyclopediaswith a special weakness in my heart for old maps. I love everything about them—the colors, the font, the bordering—they're just perfect! These bracelets are rad to commemorate a meaningful location, to celebrate a faraway hometown, or for the restless traveler who is always wistfully thinking about elsewhere.

The way I do this may seem a little daunting, but it's actually quite easy once you get into it. You need to cut the paper into strips or else they won't lie flat on the domed surface of the bangle. This leaves a little overlap near the edges, which we like to refer to as "that handmade character."

What you'll need:

  • A vintage map
  • A blank bangle (I get mine from, all sorts of shapes and sizes!)
  • Scissors
  • Foam brush
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Clear protective coating

You'll need to cut the map into a strip slightly larger than the dimensions of the bracelet. It's most important that the paper is wider than the bangle, as you will be folding the strips into the center later. I like to leave about 1/3 inch on each side.

The paper should be wider than the bangle.

Cut the paper into strips—the thinner the strips, the less of a seam you will see on the finished product but the longer it will take you to make.

These thin strips will help reduce the visibility of your seam.

Glue the strips to the bangle one at a time. I line them up in the center, so the edges overlap.

Strips should be lined up so the edges overlap.

Pictured below is how the bangle looks after all the strips are glued to the outside but before the edges are glued down.

Glue all strips to the outside before tucking the edges into the bangle.

After the edges are glued down, they will overlap on the inside in such a way that you can only glue them down easily in one direction.

Glue down your edges by tucking them into your bangle.

I like gluing something cute and unexpected on the inside, like this town listing from the directory of the map. This is also a good place to put an inscription or message. It's helpful to do this in pieces as well, since it's almost impossible to line up a long, narrow strip of glue-covered paper.

Add something unique, such as an inscription or message to the inside of your bangle.


The only thing left to do is cover it in a protective coating.

It's up to you as to what kind of protective coating to use—you could cover it in Mod Podge or other decoupage glue, or try clear acrylic (I use Polycrylic but I've seen Diamond Glaze used with awesome results) for a super-high gloss.

I love the look of these bangles and have branched out beyond maps—you can make a bracelet with any appropriately sized image.


I sell these bangles on my etsy site and have had custom requests for everything from hometowns (since I live in LA and nobody is from here) and cross-country road trippin' to honeymoon destinations and wearable bus maps. I say, get down with your bad selves and make some super-personal mappy goodness to celebrate every occasion, but if you don't wanna... hit up my shop and see what I've got. My atlas collection has become obscene!

Did you make this?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
posted in: bracelet, wearable, recycle, scissors, maps, vintage books, foam brush

Comments (16)

Nodan writes: Your design is creative,I will have a try.
Posted: 2:39 am on June 26th
ChristinART writes: Can't wait to make some with the maps from our Monterey honeymoon!!!!
Posted: 3:58 pm on April 12th
mapquest writes: thi is great stuff im going to save this to get one for my girlfriend, i wish i could do this with my mapquest maps
Posted: 5:14 pm on March 26th
itsmissnat writes: What kind of glue do you use? and what kind of protective coating? Thanks :)
Posted: 6:34 pm on November 3rd
Flippincool writes: Hi!

Just wanted to let you know I featured this tutorial in a post all about upcycle crafting. Thanks!

The Handmade Experiment
Posted: 4:53 am on July 13th
Wendy_G writes: Cool beans ! Never thought of making bangles like this. I'm going to have to make some now. I'll make some map one's I'm sure...but I want to make different one's too. Maybe even one with collage pics on it or something. Hmmmm.... have to get my creative juices going. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 11:45 pm on June 17th
ireneagh writes: how cute! lovely tutorial! :)
Posted: 5:06 am on May 24th
Sondina writes: Hi I was on Style Hive and saw a post about YOU and your bracelet which led me to this page. Cool Beans! I'm glad you are doing well. Hope all is well in sunny LA.
Sandi (Dan's mommy)
Posted: 2:15 am on May 20th
KarlaK writes: I think this is just such a great idea. It is something you can make very personal as well.
Posted: 6:13 pm on May 10th
huana writes: Beautiful!I can't wait to make this!
Posted: 2:52 am on May 10th
samsstuff writes: Cute idea! I love old maps (& bangles). Thanks for the article!
Posted: 10:41 pm on May 9th
beaderonboard writes: Danielle;
What a great idea, I love it.
What a great way to make a rememberance of a trip you have taken also.
Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 8:03 pm on May 9th
JennlovesSteve writes: this is such a cute idea!
Posted: 10:32 am on May 9th
AmandaFlynn writes: This is just fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

Also, I just adore your Etsy shop - what beautiful products and inspiration!

-Amanda -
Posted: 9:42 am on May 9th
WendyQM writes: Great idea! I'm going to try this one! The possibilities are endless...
Posted: 1:00 pm on May 8th
whimsy_chidori writes: This is such a wonderful idea, and perfect for those of us who like vintage images. I am wondering if it would be possible to make one with some of the strips running along the dome. I think that's what I'll try when I do this. Thanks so much for sharing!
Posted: 8:56 pm on May 7th
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.