X marks the spot

Did you ever use old teabags to stain paper for a treasure map? When my daughter was still at school, we had heaps of often quite hysterical fun aging stuff for projects. We did all sorts of daft things: softened up old cheese coverings to mould false wax seals, ‘weathered’ parchment by setting fire to the edges (several times, as the first attempts usually had to be dumped in the washing up bowl for fear of triggering the smoke alarm), poured salt, broken pasta and even lentils, so help me, onto puddles of PVA glue …

Now Lauren’s off at uni doing History of Art at Edinburgh, I found I was pining for such lovely messy arts and crafts, until I decided to use my rather Jurassic graphics package to create a detailed, antique-style map to accompany a fantasy adventure book called Ice Trekker.

It turned out to be infinitely more fiddly than doing it by hand, but with the help of Creative Commons, crazy free fonts with odd names and some sneaky text editing tricks I used when I was a sub-editor, I got there in the end.

In fact, it was a useful exercise, as it made me literally map out the adventure and ensure everyone was where they ought to be. I might even try again for another book.

The results are now on the blog, and I fully intend to include the map on my next submission. Here’s the final result.


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