Our Process

All of our art works are fully designed and made by us in our workshop in Lyall Bay. Read all about our process below.

Design

As with many modern art works our process begins in front of the computer. The initial design starts with Aran defining the general area for our next map. He then pulls together as much information as he can for that area, including marine charts, topographic maps, bathymetric survey data and even satellite imagery. Once all the information is collated into one file the detailed design work begins. This is where Aran's eye for design really comes into play. He carefully balances the ratios of land and sea, geographic features, roads and towns to create a beautiful interpretation of the area. Once the area has been defined he then goes through each contour and decides which layers to include to give the best balance and visual interest. Interpreting  500m depths to be represented in just 8 layers of 3mm of plywood takes time and an eye for detail. Much of the information needs to be maniupulated manually to make it suitable for laser cutting. He then adds sounding points (depths) and features from the charts, titles and our distinctive compass, and all the street data. Extra time and care is taken for all the little personal details in our customised commissions.

Our Laser

Many think using a laser cutter involves simply finding a file and pressing print, similar to using a desktop printer. This is far from the case. We use our laser cutter as a precision tool, allowing us to get the finest details of land and sea into our maps. It still needs skill and craftsmanship to get the best out of the largest tool in our workshop! Our green machine has its own idiosyncrasies that we have come to know and appreciate. The range of effects that can be achieved require an in-depth knowledge of the variables and settings in the laser, we even say we 'drive' it, rather than just 'use'! Every layer cut requires its own fine tuning, and we have put a lot of time into developing our own set of line styles that are not only aesthetically pleasing but give our work its signature finish, ensuring that all elements of our art work together to create a cohesive and beautiful end result. 

Made with love

Each map consists of at least 4 layers of plywood. Many layers consist of a number of little pieces representing islands, channels and other undersea features. The layers are first cut out on the laser cutter. Aran then removes each layer and hand sands it, ensuring the details are crisp and clear, creating a lovely contrast against the pale bamboo. The next step in the process is to paint our signature turquoise blue stain onto the sea layers. Aran has mixed this colour up himself based on Resene's vibrant hues to best represent the colour of the sea around New Zealand (on a sunny day!). Due to the non uniform nature of the wood and the hand techniques used to make the maps, no two maps are ever the same and the colour variation is truly reminiscent of the sea. The next step in the process is to glue everything together, ensure all the bits are in the right places and everything aligns - and yes he does actually use a special pair of tweezers for the small bits! The final stage is to put the map back into the laser to add any personal messages to the back. Aran then frames the map himself, packs it in its elegant presentation box and wraps its up for postage. Aran has designed our own frame profile so that we can frame the maps ourselves and they will be strong enough to last more than a lifetime. He has also designed our eco-friendly packaging, and is working on some unique shipping solutions for the largest of our maps.

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