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Hand-Made Summer Camp: Bon Voyage Garland

Summer means travel, right? Whether your journeys remain daydreams this summer as you take a staycation, or you are going to hit the road/rails to see new places, here’s a project that’ll put you in a travel frame of mind. This paper garland is based on a Victorian Christmas tree decoration, but I made it with old maps of places I'd like to visit, or visit again, someday. I learned this technique in Sunny O'Neil's The Gift of Christmas Past: A Return to Victorian Traditions, but she cites her source for the project as Godey’s Lady’s Book (December 1880) issue. Here’s how to make your own travel-inspired garland.


You will need:

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • 1 or more maps, depending on how long you want your garland to be

About choosing maps and paper: Be sure that the maps you choose for this project are no longer wanted by you or any of your family or housemates because you’ll be cutting them up, and you don’t want to cut up any treasured maps. Flea markets and thrift shops often have old maps. You can also use up out-of-date transit maps and train schedules. Leftover wrapping paper can work well too. What doesn't work so well is newspaper, because it tears too easily.

Step One:

Cut the map into long narrow strips of equal width. Use the ruler to mark out the lines for easier cutting. Mine pictured are 3 inches wide each.

And here are the resulting strips:

Step Two:

Take one strip and fold it down the middle, lengthwise. Using a ruler and pencil, mark the strip at half-inch intervals with lines that stop 1/4 of an inch short from the edge, alternating side to side. The markings should look like this:

Step Three:

Cut along each of these markings, along the entire length of the strip. Be careful not to cut all the way from one side to the other or the garland won’t stay together.

Step Four:

Carefully open up the strip along the long center fold and gently unfurl the garland. Repeat steps two through four for each strip, and then use a bit of tape to attach the strips end to end to create as long a garland as you wish.

You can drape it across a window or around a doorframe — wherever you want! And you could make one in honor of a friend's journey too, if you want to send him or her off in handmade style. The Bon Voyage Garland is not so “authentically Victorian” as Sunny O'Neil's, but it’s fun and quick way to escape the everyday. If you make one, share a picture of it in the Library's Handmade Flickr group. Bon voyage until next time!


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