Momentous Mementos

What do you do with all those used tickets, maps and flyers you pick up on your holidays? They might look just like scraps of paper, but each one is a little reminder of a perfect sunny day, a delicious meal, a private joke or getting utterly lost and accidentally finding a hidden gem. Rather than packing them away in a box, or even throwing them away, you could display them in your home as a reminder of carefree days and sunnier climes.This is the story of a paper sculpture made from mementos of a year-long globe-trotting adventure...

Occasionally I receive emails from customers asking if I would make letters out of their own maps. I've created quite a few sculptures this way and they've always turned out really well, so when I received a message from Shanna asking if I could make letters from "maps and other scraps of paper" I had no hesitation in saying yes.

In September 2007, Shanna and her husband Derek set out on a trip that would last 366 days, visiting 40 countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe. Shanna's idea was to make HOME with each letter representing one of the four continents they visited. I asked her to send me her maps and mementos, at least enough to cover one A3 size page per letter, with removable sticky notes indicating the important places and information on each one.

Within a couple of weeks a very exciting package arrive at the Little White Dog studio! When I opened it up I found four neat stacks of maps and tickets with all the relevant bits marked, ranked in order of importance and clipped together. Taking each stack in turn, I spread them out in order and photographed them as a reference in case things got mixed up on my desk.

In addition to maps there were entrance passes for world heritage sites, pages from theatre programs, transport tickets, business cards and printed napkins. Some of them even had little highlights and notes that Shanna and Derek had made while they were there. With so many pieces to assemble there was a lot of overlapping so the sticky notes showing the important bits of each memento were vital. They helped me to make sure that I didn't inadvertently cut out something significant, and since Shanna had ranked them in order of importance I knew which pieces to prioritise.

It became clear that the medium size (10cm high) letters mightn't be large enough to do justice to all the great mementos, so I consulted Shanna and she was happy to go for large (14.5cm) letters instead. The difference between the two sizes doesn't sound like a lot but the large letters are also wider and deeper, giving me a lot more surface area to use.

The result was a truly personal, one-of-a-kind, three dimensional story! I've seen how excited and emotional people get when they receive map letters showing their home place, so I can only imagine how Derek reacted when he opened this Christmas gift from Shanna, full of memories of their amazing journey.

You can read about Shanna & Derek's travels and see some of their 12,912 photos on their blog 'One Year on Earth' here. It's one of the most comprehensive travel blogs I've seen and is well worth a look if you're planning a big trip (or even if you're just in search of some escapism in the form of a virtual holiday for a little while!).