Map formats

I researched the physical formats for map making by looking at maps in the flesh.

I remembered the collection Ruth showed us in our bookbinding workshop about maps. I visited the collection in the Richard Hamilton Building this week and took a few photos of some interesting aspects.

I didn’t photograph one map where the designer included graffiti and dog poo on their map of an area. It is the designer’s choice what they include in the map and what they want to direct the reader to.

This map opens out lengthways and shows us 2 sides of a street. The centre of the map represents the road itself. They have used words to tell us information such as who lives in the building and events that have happened. The map was not in English, so I could not understand exactly what it was telling me, but even so, I could guess a lot from the way it is visually expressed. As the reader, it feels like you are walking down the road.

Another map that caught my attention is one made up purely of photos. The designer has taken a series of photos at one location and pieces the images together to create a picture of the place. This reminded me of David Hockney’s approach, but the photos here are made to look seamless. This technique means that we are given more information than could be captured in a single photo of a place.

Stephen Willats

Amongst the collection of maps, I found this booklet by Stephen Willats, whose work I have looked at previously. The Tower Mosaic Book maps together the residents of the building. Because of the boldness, the map is easy to read.

The quotes on the left page above, have distinctive voices, without needing to change the typeface.
He presents different objects from the building. As a viewer, I wonder about the choice of objects. I can see they are the people’s possessions because they are everyday objects.

Michael C. Nicholson

Nicholson maps his day in this booklet. The horizontal line represents the hours in the day and the silhouettes signify different activities. The way they are positioned remind me of a clock face and therefore the viewer sees a clock even before reading the text.

The horizontal line continues across the booklet. This helps the work to look cohesive and part of the same narrative.

Where You Are is a book of 16 maps created by writers, artists and thinkers.’ 

A Book of Experimental Maps Designed to Get You Lost | WIRED

‘We’re constantly mapping our lives, even if we don’t realize it. The emails we send, the restaurants we Google, the buses we take, the status updates we post —all of this is a way to track where we’ve been, what we’ve done and what’s important to us. ‘

‘(These maps) won’t actually get you anywhere—but they sure are fun to look at.’ 14 Fascinating Maps of Places Hiding In Plain Sight (

I looked at this collection and include some of the maps here:

Denis Wood

front cover

Tao Lin

front cover

Tao Lin maps outer space in answer to the question ‘Where are you?’

Leanne Shapton

front cover

Tablescapes is about the literal space around you in your day to day living. A desk is multi-functional. It’s a table you sometimes work at, sometimes eat at and use to store objects you may need to use in the near future.

Peter Turchi

front cover

This designer thinks about different paths he could have taken in his life. The flow chart style reminds me of the quizzes found in magazines when I was a child.
He uses road signs that are recognisable to the viewer.

Geoff Dyer

This map folds out to show the designer’s home town. He has marked areas that have personal significance to him. I like the depth of detail in this map and the way it is possible to get lost amongst it.

Joe Dunthorne

Ghost Pots relates to his experience as a writer.

Here, the designer uses illustrations to draw a map of an imaginary place. ‘A literary landscape.’

Valeria Luiselli

Swings of Harlem marks the swings the author remembers from childhood.

The map folds into the front cover. Her map was unique in the way that she made a large folded map separate to the rest of the work. There is a booklet that comes with the map to add context to the images.

In the booklet, she shares her memories and thoughts about each swing. She includes photos from her personal collection. This gives the map an authentic feeling.

Bookbinding- Maps

We looked at the way maps are put together. For example, Ordnance survey maps are made up of one large piece of paper, folded multiple times with a cover glued to 1 of the folded sections.

1922 Old OS Ordnance Survey Popular Edition One-Inch Map 79 Llandrindod Wells | eBay

We also thought about being creative with our book designs. Our lecturer Ruth showed us examples. One collection I was really impressed by, was by a designer who had made a series of small pamphlet-like books and collected them together into a box which held them together. I like the way the designer chose a different colour for each book. The theme for the collection was around mapping. One of the books was about places he had nearly been to, one contained pixelated image of the UK, each square was a different colour and given a different name to each, which corresponded to the place on the map. I thought this was really creative and inventive.

2016 Work – Annwyn Dean

Concertina style book by Annwyn Dean. (embroiderer, book artist and printmaker based in Yorkshire).

The concertina style is appropriate for showing a series of photos, or a long print that is printed across the pages. She adds string to tie the book together.

The main method we focused on was creating a book using folds instead of stitching, gluing, or any other method of binding. The advantage of this is that you could include one large picture within smaller packaging. These large pictures when folded up into these books, could be read as a book by turning each page or could be folded out to show the full image.

A design by Madebysix, who are a design studio based in Leicester. Image from Six (

How to make books by Esther K. Smith
How to make books by Esther K. Smith

I had a go at making the ‘Three instant accordions’ style book. I first folded the paper in half.

I folded it in half again. I kept folding until I had 8 equal sized rectangles.

When folding thick paper, it is sometimes necessary to re-fold back in the opposite direction. Here, I aligned the centre folds together. The centre fold acted as a marker, so I did not have to check along the edge to see if the paper was lined up.

I then needed to plan out where to cut the paper. I decided on a pattern that would spiral inwards. This felt logical, but meant that I ended up with an asymmetrical piece of paper. I used scrap paper to draw the above plan for my work. The black pen indicates the cuts and the blue spiral represents the direction I wanted the pages to run in. I used the paper knife to cut the paper. The challenge was to avoid cutting off sections that need to remain intact. I found the knife was quite sharp and hard to control when to stop the cut. It was challenging to create a neat cut and avoid tearing the paper.

The second thing I needed to be mindful of is the folding after the paper had been cut. I needed to alternate between folding one way and then the other way. I thought of it as folding under then over, under then over and so on.

How to make books by Esther K. Smith

The next task was to make a cover for my book. This helps to protect the book, maybe not from water but from general use. To start, I created the spine by folding the paper twice. I looked at the thickness of my book first to see how wide I needed the spine to be.

My book ended up with a landscape page at the front and back of the book. I needed to cut off a section of the cover to make it fit best. I found this part of the workshop the most complicated and difficult part. I understood the steps when they were explained to me, but to make one myself is a different thing.

The first and last page slip into the cover without the use of glue or any binding. This means I can easily remove the cover and replace it.

I then made a smaller book with the same kind of paper. The paper felt tougher because I was folding smaller areas. This book has square pages instead of rectangle. I made a second plan. This time. I planned a symmetrical pattern to cut.

This square book became a sampler of bookmaking techniques:

I added a section using thin red paper. I cut the paper to the same height as the page of my book. I then folded it into thirds so that it would be a concertina style pull-out piece. I used double-sided tape to attach it to the book.

I used thin blue paper to attach a sheet that I can open out and tuck away. I cut it into a perfect square, larger than a page of the book. I folded it into triangles and stapled it to the spine of the book. Using thin paper meant that I would be able to fold it into the book without it causing the book to buckle.

When I folded the paper into the book, there were triangular corners that stuck out.

I cut the corners off with the scalpel. This created an octagon.

I then stuck a strip of grey paper into the book. I allowed the middle to fold inwards. This meant that the paper sticks out when the book is opened.

Another technique I did not have time to add is the bellyband. There are easier and more complicated ways to make a bellyband. They hold the pages closed and can be removed as a book cover can be.

How to make books by Esther K. Smith

I read this book as part of my bookbinding research.