My topographic maps are personally drawn and designed in my home with my CAD (computer-aided design) program. Wood is prepared and treated, then laser-cut, assembled and framed in my work shop. Most of the frames for my flat maps are supplied from various local sources. Materials for the deeper frames required for my 3D maps are sourced from my uncle’s store    The Framery and Gallery    and assembled by me. It takes untold hours to design a 3D map and two or three days to build.
 My laser-cut topographic maps begin as an idea. My wife Wendy and I enjoy kayaking and hiking in the wilderness that West Virginia has to offer. In our short time here, we’ve already hiked miles and kayaked for hours around the New River Gorge and Summersville Lake, hence the subjects of my first two maps.
 Once the region to be mapped has been identified, it’s time to sit down at the computer and spend hours drawing and editing the contours that will eventually become the parts of the map. Drawings are also scaled to size depending on the thickness of the wood used to make the map. Prominent rivers and creeks are added along with significant roads, landmarks and interesting/informative text. Finally, it’s all broken down into smaller parts that the laser-cutter can accommodate. The design stage of laser-cut map making is the most tedious and time consuming!
 Once all the CAD work is finished, it’s time to hit the work shop! Wood is sanded and stained as necessary to achieve the desired effect on my finished map.
 Prepared wood sheets are then loaded into the laser-cutter for the magic to happen! It takes about forty-five minutes to cut one sheet — longer if there is  text or other intricate detail work.
 The parts begin to pile up, but it all comes together as I assemble them one-by-one.
 My 3D maps with stacked contours require a special frame deep enough to handle the thickness of this type of map. Fortunately, my uncle Larry Pettinga owns his own store    The Framery and Gallery     in Trenton, Michigan where he offers his expertise and supplies me with proper, first-class frames, framing materials and glass.
 Brannon Ritterbush keeps a variety of my topographic maps in stock at her    Wild Art Wonderful Things    gallery/gift shop in nearby Fayetteville, WV.
 Maps are also available at    Tamarack; The Best of West Virginia    art gallery here in my home town of Beckley, West Virginia.
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