The Story of My Atlas

It all began with an invitation to show a small genealogy group how to make a simple book. At the end of the session, they challenged me as to what I was going to do next so I told them that I had had in mind for a long time to make an atlas. I did not visualize anything very elaborate – maybe just a nice binder.

I started out that evening looking online for antique maps and photos or old paintings of locations where my ancestors had lived. I did this for about 6 weeks, slowly inserting them into old highly decorative borders. I also did this for the family group sheets that I wanted to accompany the time frame of the old maps.

The pages now looked too nice to just put in a binder so I went looking for some beautiful hand made paper to paste the sheets on. I could not find anything suitable and that is when the project became monumental! I realized that in order to accomplish my now very much altered vision of my atlas, I would need to create my own background pages.

For the next several months, I worked, on average, 4 days a week painting and texturizing and gluing the pages 12″ x 17″ in size.  I thought all I would need would be about 20 pages, forgetting how the number of ancestors increases exponentially! 33 pages later and 35′ of pages when extended end to end, I finally finished.

But now there was the assembly. I needed to stitch the pages together and create a front and back cover. I thought I had lots of time to do this. I was not on any deadline. So I started quilting the cover using spider wheel stitches in gold metallic thread and applying gold beads following the paisley pattern in the fabric. All was going at a leisurely pace when I learned that the family was planning a reunion. At this point, I had very little time to finish my atlas and worked day after day, and all day for 10 days straight prior to the reunion date, to get it finished in time. I not only had the stitching to do, but also I was adding old photos printed on fabric to the front and back covers. I got it done just in time.

Off I went to the family reunion. I got off the plane at my destination but my atlas continued on to Toronto, 1500 hundred miles away, much to my horror!!! Fortunately, the airline was very good and retrieved it quickly and I was reunited with my atlas that evening, very, very much relieved!

Below is a picture of the pages extended before the covers were attached.

Here are a couple of closeups