Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNeilly book review | Book Addicts

Map Art Lab

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Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNeilly is a beautiful little art book about making personal geographies.

10 out of 10 stars.  When I can find a book that has art projects that I’d like to do, and lots of them, I’m sold.  This is one of those books.

There are 52 art projects in this book, all personal geographies, that is art that tells the story of a person.

My favorites are below.

Stencil Maps

In this project, you take stencils of other objects–rivers, houses, etc–and overlay them onto a piece of paper that has dye on it.  Outline the shapes and you have a beautiful stencil map.

Transparent Layer Map

In this project, you take a regular map, like a street map, and put layers of transparent paper on top showing different points of interest over time.  If you’re having difficulty finding transparent paper, just go to the office supply store and look in the art section or go to Michaels.  Transparency paper is fun to play with and takes colored pencil really well.

Pop-Up and Folded Maps

This project is basically making two kinds of maps, one pop-up and one folded, with anything you want inside.

Story Maps

If you look at the photos below, the left photo in particular, you will see the endpapers of a novel called My Father’s Dragon.  This project is to make a story map similar to the one on the left which includes all of your personal points of interest.

Custom Constellations

This is a cute project based on astrological maps created by Ptolemy.  You draw a scene and add the starts later, your own stars in whatever constellation you want to make up.  Cute idea.

Word Map

If you like word tangles or word maps, you’ll love this project which uses the same concept.  Instead of using just words to fill in the object, use places, images, names, and highways.

Road to Success

This project is about making a road map to success.  It can be your child’s road map to winning a regional spelling bee, your child’s road map to winning a regional gymnastics competition, or your own road map from birth to where you are now through all the places you’ve lived and gone to college.

Tea-Dyed Treasure Map

Forgers often dye papers they use with tea to age them.  This project uses that same technique to create a treasure map.

Map of Me and You

This project is about you and another person or pet.  You draw your map on one side and their map on the other and intersect the two where you both became acquainted.  Cute idea for Valentine’s Day.

Get Your Game On

I love games.  This project involves making one.  In the right photo are two very old board games.  On the left is a personal geography map with interstate highway numbers, miles charted, and places traveled.  Adorable.   Don’t forget the landmarks.


This project celebrates all the little detours you took to get to where you are now.  🙂

Magical Places

This project is based on a map made in 1603 of Iceland, complete with magical beasts.  Make your own and don’t forget the legend so we know what the beasts are.

If you are more interested in the monster map of Iceland by Ortelius in 1603, read this article.

Monsters of Islandia by Ortelius 1603 | Book Addicts

Personify a Place

This project is based on the piece, The Virgin of San Miguel, by Laurie Mike which is made entirely of maps of the city.  What I love about this project is that it’s perfect for combative siblings who can’t get along.  Using the model on the right, have them each make a map of their combative sibling, but make them think up at least three positive places instead of negative ones.  🙂

These were my favorite 13 projects.  There was a 14th, but I got tired of scanning pages.  🙂

10 out of 10 stars.  This book will keep you busy for a long time.


Reviewed by Jill

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