Easy DIY Vintage Map Art Sign Made with Sharpies

As one of 30+ bloggers participating in the Thrift Store Décor Challenge this month, I am excited to share a very special map art sign with with a meaningful quote and opening up about the death of my son.

Thrift Store Decor Upcycle Challenge

The Rules:

  • Upcycle an item(s) from a thrift store, resale store, or garage sale into a new piece of decor.
  • There’s no monthly theme.
  • There’s no budget to stick to.

Meet the Hosts

Amanda | Domestically Creative Michelle | Our Crafty Mom
Victoria | Dazzle While Frazzled Pili | Sweet Things Debra | Shoppe No. 5
Chelc | Inside the Fox Den Jeannee | Centsably Creative Michelle | Michelle James Designs
Molly | Just a Little Creativity Angela | Simply Beautiful by Angela

Marie | DIY Adulation Denise | My Thrifty House Lindsay | Crazy Organized
Florence | Vintage Southern Picks Shirley | Intelligent Domestications

Make sure you follow our board on Pinterest for more upcycled decor inspiration!

DIY Vintage Map Art Sign Made with Sharpie Markers

I am quite proud of myself with this Vintage Map Art Sign I created for the glamper makeover. Not only am I adding some fun art to the walls but it is also camouflaging a big hole where the TV used to be along with a gentle reminder to make happy memories.

map art sign with quote

So let’s talk about the significance of my quote. For those of you new to my blog, you probably don’t know that my 23 year old son unexpectedly passed away in March of 2015. I started this blog as part of my therapy to help me get through the grief. My mind was racing all the time, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t focus on anything other than my broken heart and helping my family get through this tragedy.

map art sign words and supplies

My therapist suggested that I focus my attention on something that made me happy and kept me busy. Flea markets, thrift stores, arts and crafts, DIY, repurposing and cooking all came to mind. So I decided to start this blog and share my projects with a larger audience beyond my immediate family and friends.

map art sign cutting out words

Something that I have learned while going through the grieving process is that nothing really matters but happy memories. When someone dies all you have left is boxes of “stuff” and your memories. From the moment I learned that Cody passed away my brain was completely flooded with memories ….good, bad, happy and sad memories. I can’t change the past but I can focus on our happy times and there were indeed lots of happy memories I have with my funny, loving, kind-hearted, handsome son.

graphite paper used to transfer words to map art sign

The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that when I leave this Earth I want my family and friends to be filled with happy memories of their time with me because in the end we only have our memories. Why not make them happy memories?

tracing words for map art sign


tracing letters for map art sign

“Make Happy Memories” has become my motto in life. I have removed so much excess baggage from my life and continue to do so on a daily basis. There are so many things that really aren’t important and I’d rather focus my time and energy on making happy memories with my husband and three daughters.

map art sign with outlined words

Now you know the back story on my happy memories quote but let’s talk about how I made this fun map art sign. I have a huge stash of vintage maps that I have used for various projects throughout my house. Remember my vintage map letter B? Remember my travel fund coin bank?

My husband covered a 24 x 24 piece of plywood with one of my vintage maps and then he added a black frame using some scrap wood in his stash.

map art sign words and sharpies

While he was doing that I was typing up my words in a 130 pt font and printing them on individual pieces of paper so I could cut them and arrange them on the board.

Once I decided on placement, I taped my words in place using painters tape. I slid carbon transfer paper behind each letter and traced around each letter with a pencil. That left me with a nice outline to color in on my sign.

map art sign with words colored in with sharpies

As you can see, I didn’t always trace a straight line because the plywood wasn’t completely smooth but it all worked out because I filled in the outlines with my black sharpies. Yep, I used permanent markers to color in the quote on my map art sign. I could have used paint but I am too sloppy with paint and I knew that wouldn’t go well.

There have been several other changes to the glamper such as the painted cabinets, new floors and curtains. I chose my glamper living room for a challenge and successfully completed the $100 room challenge. You’ll have to hop over to see if I stayed under budget. 


Before and After of map art sign

And now for more thrifty goodness!

Check out what my fellow upcyclers created below!


  1. Toni | Small Home Soul says:

    Denise I love how openly you can talk about your grief and also talk about the happy memories you have of Cody. As a mom I can’t imagine the loss that your family has experienced and will live with always. But your spirit of enjoying life with those around you will be your legacy.

    p.s. I can’t wait to see your Glamper reveal 🙂

  2. Michelle James says:

    I can’t imagine your pain. Your words really resonated with me . It is so important to make happy memories and I love this wonderful quote on your map sign. I am glad you have this blog as a positive outlet. ? Michelle

  3. Anne Ross says:

    I love you! Sharing your grief is so generous. You bolster, inspire and comfort! My new motto is #bestdayever and it started with you this summer making happy memories! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  4. Karen says:

    You are so right, in the end, when we lose someone we love memories are what heals our heart. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. Thank you for sharing you heart and the things that make you happy.

  5. Amanda @ Domestically Creative says:

    This is a great reminder that life is not a guarantee so make the most of the time you have. Thank you for sharing your story behind the quote, I know that opening up about grief can be very difficult.

    On another note, I love this wall art! My husband and I recently bought a small travel camper and I have been brainstorming ideas to decorate–this is perfect!

  6. FLORENCE @ VintageSouthernPicks says:

    Denise, I love your sign, and especially the memories behind it. I, too, have lost someone very dear to me, and I so agree with you about making good memories, and remembering the happy times. Love how you’ve updated your camper. We are RV’ers too. I want to see the big reveal!

  7. Debrashoppeno5 says:

    Thank you for sharing and opening up to us. I can’t even begin to know what you have been through. But I love how you decided to be positive and grow from your grief. The sign is so fantastic. And good memories do carry us through the difficult moments.

  8. Lauren says:

    I cannot even imagine the pain. I’m so very sorry. And here you have taken that grief and used it in creating your beautiful blog. Your map project is so cute and so true! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Michelle says:

    This is so nice. I love the sign and I love the idea of making memories. I was sorry to hear about your son and am glad you started the blog. You are very creative and I am glad we get so see your projects. I have two boys and I can’t imagine ever getting over the pain of something like that. I can’t wait to see the Glamper. We don’t have one but I would love to tackle a makeover. I hope you are having a fun time with it.

  10. Pili says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss Denise, it must be really hard. But as you say you have your husband and daughters and happy memories to help you. So good you started your own blog to share your creations with others, you are very creative and I am going to use the tip with the sharpies instead of paint.

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