I’ve had several emails and messages over the past several months asking for specifics about how I ordered the maps hanging in our dining room. They were actually originally one large engineering print which I cut into four separate maps. I thought I would go ahead and walk you through the entire process of exactly how to go about ordering something similar, since this is the perfect way to get large scale art on a major budget. (In fact, I’m doing this in our bedroom too, which I’ll show you soon!)
Large maps (or art in general) can be super expensive, but I found a way around that by ordering engineering prints instead of photo enlargements. An engineering print is basically a blueprint, or a giant black and white photocopy. The resolution isn’t as sharp as a normal photo enlargement would be, but I’m fine with that considering you can get one printed for as little as $1.79. This is also the method I used for this quatrefoil photo wall art, although in that case I uploaded my own photo.
How to Order Engineering Prints of Large Maps
For engineering prints of maps specifically, here’s what you do.
Go to the Library of Congress website and either do a general search for the map you want, or click on “Maps & Geography” and select a map. I recommend this site because most of the maps are too old to have copyright protection so they’re fair game, plus there are some really cool old vintage maps to choose from. The only downfall is that maps of many locations you want may not be available. You can search for a specific city, state, county or region; just use different search terms until you find what you need. In my case, I wanted to use maps of my hometown, my husband’s hometown, the city where we met, and the city where we went on our honeymoon. I couldn’t find all of the city maps in the database so I simply printed a vintage U.S. railroad map instead and cut out the areas I wanted. (I believe this is the one I used.)
Download the map of your choice in the highest resolution available.
Go to Staples.com. (This is not sponsored, I just found their site easiest to order what I wanted.) Click on “Shop by Category” and then “Copy & Print.” Then, click on “Engineering Prints.”
Choose a size and click “Design Now”. There are three size options: 18″x24″, 24″x36″, and 36″x48″. They range in price from $1.79 – $7.29. For our dining room prints, I printed one large 36″x48″ print and cut it into 4 separate prints.
Choose Engineering Prints in B&W. (There is a color option too but it is more expensive and I haven’t tried it so I don’t know what the quality looks like. Let me know if you try it!) Either option will say “not suitable for photo images,” but that is because the resolution will be more like a big photo copy and not as high quality as a photo enlargement. I’ve printed a photo just fine.
Upload your photo. Some of the maps from the Library of Congress website are not high enough resolution to be enlarged, and if this is the case then it will be indicated when you upload it to Staples’ site, and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board and find a higher resolution option on the LOC site to download. (This happened to me a few times.)
Enter a “Job Name” (whatever you want your order to be called), and add to cart. Go to “checkout,” and you can have it shipped or arrange to pick it up at your local store.
That’s it! You may have to trim the edges/border when you receive it, but that’s it. I cut mine and inserted the maps into IKEA frames, and with my quatrefoil photo wall art I mounted it on foam board. You could also make your own frame or mount it inside acrylic. There are lots of possibilities!
What type of map would you have printed?
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- Quatrefoil Photo Wall Art
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- or check out my project gallery here!
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Shelley @ Calypso in the Country says
Love this idea!
Erin Spain says
Thank you, Shelley!
Do you remember what size image you downloaded and the size of the IKEA frames?
Erin Spain says
I don’t remember what size the image was, but it was the only size offered and it was quite large. (I cut it into 4 separate pieces to frame.) I believe the frames are 16×20.
Would love to know how you got the great shape of the children?
Erin Spain says
I think this is the one you are referring to. Here’s a tutorial with all of the info: https://www.erinspain.com/quatrefoil-photo-wall-art-tutorial/