Genealogy at the Dinner Table: Map plates

table setting

Thanksgiving is several months away, but I am already thinking about it, because I want to create a special family tree focus for my table.  To start, I am working on a set of map plates to use as chargers in my place settings.  Each plate will have a different map from our family history.  When everyone comes to the table, there will be lots of different maps to spur conversation about the family tree!

To make a map plate

You will need:

Clear glass plate Mod Podge Craft Foam craft brush Color photo copy of family map

What to do:

Making this dish is very simple- essentially, you just glue your map to the back of your glass plate.

4waymapFirst, choose your maps.  I found some maps on the internet and some in books.  Using a photo copy machine, make a color copy of your map, enlarging it if needed to fit the plate.  It is important to use a photo copy because the ink does not bleed when you paste it to the plate.  If you print something from an ink jet printer, you will need to use a spray sealer on it before gluing it.  I personally find the copy machine is easier, and it makes really sharp images.

Using a disposable foam craft brush, spread an even layer of the Mod Podge on the back of the entire plate.  It will look milky white, but will dry completely clear.  (Mod Podge can be found at any craft store and is designed for exactly this kind of project.) Gently lay the map onto the glue, picture side to the glue.  Slide it around as needed to line it up the way you want.  Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, smooth out the paper from the center of the plate out to the center of the edges.  Smooth out any bumps or bubbles.  Continue smoothing toward the corners, coming together from two directions and making a sharp peak.  Fold the peak down, like you are wrapping a present.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t stay down- the next step will take care of that.  Allow the glue to dry.  Immediately rinse the foam brush under running water or else it will harden and be unusable.

Using a craft knife (like an X-acto knife), carefully trim any excess map until there is no paper overhanging the edge.

Using the disposable foam craft brush, spread an even layer of the Mod Podge on the back of the plate, starting from the center out to the edges.  At the corners, brush some Mod Podge on both sides of the folded peaks, then gently smooth the peak down to one side.  It may appear that the map becomes wrinkled or bubbled, but it should smooth out again when it dries.  Allow the glue to dry.  Again clean the foam brush.

If the edges are at all jagged or rough, gently sand the edges with fine sand paper.  Completely dust off any residue.

Apply a final layer of Mod Podge to the back of the plate.  Allow to dry.

NOTE:  This dish is intended to be used as a charger underneath the dinner plate, for decorative purposes.  Since it does not have glue on the front side, it won’t be dangerous to eat off, but it won’t be easy to clean since you can’t submerge it in water.  If it gets dirty, carefully clean it with a damp towel.



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