Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter in Rome, Italy

Well, the title is a bit of a lie...We weren't actually in Rome, Italy but we spent our Easter working on an art project related to Rome.  As most of you know (at least the people that I think are reading this blog know) Nate and I both spent a semester studying urban design in Rome, Italy.  One of the classes that we had was taught by a Professor by the name of Alan Ceen.  Professor Ceen was quirky, to say the least, but he loved Rome.  We walked, and walked, and walked (I was so skinny then!) with Prof. Ceen through the city, week after week, learning about Old Rome.  Prof. Ceen always related our walks back to the Nolli Map of Rome.  The Nolli Map was created by Giambattista Nolli, an Italian architect and surveyor, at the request of Pope Benedict XIV.  It was the most accurate map of Rome at the time.
So, how does this apply to our art project?  If you remember our den, we have a very large, blank wall due to our sloped ceiling.
We originally put four mirrors from Crate and Barrel onto the wall and they stayed there a while until we could find something else to take up the space.  One night, while both of us where watching TV/doing stuff on our laptops (our nightly tradition), I said "Wouldn't a Nolli Map be cool on this wall?"  Nate agreed, so off I went searching the internet looking for the map.  I found one on Ebay and we pulled the trigger on the purchase about a month later (the map itself was not cheap which is why we waited some time before ordering it).
The map arrived in 12 sheets as it was originally published and there was even an insert written by Professor Ceen!!  The map sheets sat on our dining room table for a few weeks until we could decide how to frame it.
We knew that buying individual frames (each sheet is about 22"x27") would be extremely expensive so we decided to "frame" it using some reclaimed wood that we already owned.  We also decided that our method of framing would be glassless (again keeping the budget in mind).
We started with two sheets of 1/8" wood and began to layout the sheets in order to determine the final size.

Once we had the first row laid out with the spacing that we desired we cut the board to the correct width on the table saw.
We used a little adhesive roller on the back of each sheet and also decided to use Scotch tape on the corners to ensure that the sheets would not move.

 Once the sheets were all laid out we brought them (on the two separate boards) in to the den and screwed the boards into the studs in the large wall.
Once we had both of the boards with the 12 sheets attached it was time to begin "framing".  We decided to use the reclaimed wood that Nate used to make the powder room mirror.  We ripped them down to the desired widths on the table saw and used the miter saw to create the miter for the four boards used for the outer frame.  We decided on a 2 3/8" width for the outer frame.  We used the nail gun to attach the frame to the boards that were already secured on the wall.
For the inside grid we decided on a 1 3/4" width.  We ripped them down to width on the table saw and used the miter saw to cut them to length.  We used full length pieces for the verticals in order to help keep the top frame from sagging.
Once the vertical boards were attached we measured each of the horizontal boards and cut them down to size.

So, that was our Easter spent hanging Rome, Italy on our walls.  We love the way that it turned out.  It is definitely HUGE but is a great way to take up such a large blank wall.  We are having fun pointing out where our apartments, our studio, and of course, our favorite bars were.  It was a time in our lives that Nate and I treasure and this map will serve as a daily reminder of our time there.
Oh, and you can see from the above photos that our sectional arrived!  BUT, it is missing piece :(  I will share pics once the final piece arrives. 


  1. Saw you guys on YHL- wanted to encourage you that this map is INCREDIBLE!! Such a creative idea that I hope I can bring into my home soon! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. It looks awesome. I love your house and all the work that you guys put into it.
    I will be following your blog from now on as well.
    We are also trying to keep a blog ( ( mainly for family and friends), but unfortunately I am afraid we are not as design inclined as you guys. that's why we definitely appreciate talent and hard work when we see it. :)

  3. I also came over from YHL. This is an awesome idea - I love maps and I have a similar large blank wall behind a couch. What are the dimensions of this artwork and what was the total cost of this project?

    1. The final dimensions are 7'-6" wide by 6'6" tall. The map itself was not inexpensive (we paid $180.00 on ebay). The frame wood was free because hubby found it in a dumpster :) and the boards that we mounted it to were about $8.00/per piece for two pieces. So our cost was just under $200.00.

  4. Dude if I haven't already done four maps in my house already I would do this!

  5. I just love this! I love incorporating things from my travels (especially maps and vintage travel prints) in my home, too. Your map is really gorgeous and the frame is lovely.

  6. i LOVE this. Just found you thru YHL. GREAT DIY!!!

  7. I found this looking for a way to install a Nolli Plan I got from the Vatican and it's good to see as well as an ambitious project. It's a gorgeous map and a real challenge to hang . But for my taste the frame here detracts from the elegant beauty of the map. Needs something less intrusive.. Have seen a minimal series of individually gold framed panels on 1st Dibbs, or perhaps frame-less glass panels may be the best way.