As a woodworker and a Game of Thrones fan, one thing that caught my eye when reading the books was the "Painted Table" that is mentioned in Book 2. According to the lore, Aegon Targaryen had the table carved from a massive tree trunk so that he could plan out his invasion of Westeros. The table is shown in season 2 (see above).
However, since I didn't have the money or capability to carve a tree trunk, I settled for a more coffee table sized work. While this project is specific to Game of Thrones, you could potentially do this for any map you can imagine!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Wood Plank(s) - Pine works the best (easy to burn, color, and cut)
- A map (Westeros)
- Graphite Paper (from local craft store or online)
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Semi-moist watercolors (works better than the powder form)
- Gold Gilding Pen (optional)
- Woodburning pen with attachments
- Router (or dremel with routing attachment)
- Hand carving tools
- Power Sander (optional)
Step 2: Prepping the Wood and Map
To begin, I took two 5.5" x 24" x 0.75" pine boards and glued them together. I ended up cutting down the boards to be 11" x 21". Just a note: I wouldn't go much thinner than 0.75" for your boards.
Use a power sander or sanding block with fine grit sandpaper to avoid pitting on the wood grain. After you're satisfied with the sanding, print out your map (Westeros). As you can see in the picture, I had to use three separate sheets of paper to get the full map. Lay down a sheet of graphite paper onto the wood (make sure it is facing the correct way) and then tape the map down on top of that.
Step 3: Tracing the Map
Pretty straight forward: trace the map onto the wood.
I recommend using a colored pen when tracing to help you keep track of what you have already gone over. I traced the following:
- The King's Road
- The Wall
- Regional Names (I printed out my own, for the sake of size)
I didn't trace the mountains and forests because they were super small on the map and I was planning on free-handing those aspects.
Step 4: Initial Burning and Carving (no Pictures in Process)
This project was put on hold for about a year while I did my teaching credential and masters program, so I don't have any pictures of the initial woodburning or router cuts. However, burning in the traces is pretty straight forward. If you have never done wood burning before, I recommend you check out my other Instructable here.
Burning Notes: For the coastline, regional names, rivers, I used a fine tip. For the King's Road, I used a wide, flat tip. For the unlabeled regional capitals like Winterfell and Sunspear, I used the stamping tip on the right of the second picture. For the capital of King's Landing, I used the more ornate tip on the left.
Carving Notes: While in the book the Painted Table is literally carved out of the wood, I wanted to leave a "sea floor" for the sake of stability and my inexperience with a router. I set the router tip to be about 0.5" deep and carved all around the continent, working my way inward. I avoided using the router around islands and inlets (like Blackwater Bay) because the area was too small. For these areas, I used a Dremel and hand carving tools.
Step 5: Detail Work: Burning and Carving
Burning: The mountains and trees ended up being simple representations. You're free to burn them in however you like. I very lightly traced them onto the areas of the map, but ended up free handing the specific ones. Afterwords, I added in shading to the mountains (see picture 3) for some 3D effects.
Carving: For all the coastlines, islands, lakes, rivers, inlets, etc., it will take a long time and a lot of patience. In picture 4, you can see the detail to which I went in terms of carving out the coastline. This is where you will have to carve the islands away from the mainland. I left the "sea floor" rough because its more realistic and I didn't want to deal with all that.
Once you've done all the detail work, your map should look something like the one in picture 5. Note, I ended up cutting out the name plaque for "The Arbor."
Step 6: Painting the "Painted Table"
This is only the second time I have tried to use watercolor and wood burning together, so I started off with the painting the ocean first to get my bearings and practice. You will have to figure out how much water to paint you need when you start painting. More water=lighter pigment, and so on.
I painted the map with the "modern" political boundaries (see picture 2). I tried to stick to each houses' primary colors, but they all like blue and red, so I had to get creative for some parts.
Painting Note: I used both the semi-moist and dry types of watercolors, but I found that the semi-moist ones would actually soak in and leave a nice layer on top of the wood and would not cover the burned parts. The dry watercolors essentially covered the wood and woodburnings. This became an issue when painting areas like the mountains.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Lakes and Rivers: If the lakes and rivers were significant (God's Eye, The Trident, etc.), I carved them and painted them blue.
King's Landing: Being the capital and all, I used a gold gilding pen to color in the ornate burn mark from the initial burning.
Protective Coating: Unless you coat your map, the watercolor pigment can be rubbed off even without water. I used a spray polyurethane coating with a satin finish. I would advise against using brush on coating as you might risk spreading/removing the pigment.
After all of that, you can sit back and enjoy your map of Westeros (or whatever map you did)! Who needs a coffee table book when you can have a coffee table that comes from a book!
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--Wood is the Word