bathymetric /ba-thi-ˈme-trik/ of or relating to measurements of the depths of oceans or lakes
What's this all about? ...Here's an introduction to this blog and here's a 30-second overview of the book itself

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tesla Gets Curious

The Sector67 makerspace cat wants to know what's going on... 

Or maybe it's just a warm place to sit...

Monday, April 11, 2016

Prototype progress, Oct 2015

Last October, in preparation for NACIS 2015, I began to search for the materials to use in the final edition. My original prototype was built entirely with scrap material. I tried a new paper, a cloth for the book cover, and a paper to line the cover.

My first tests on the laser cutter used a Canson drawing paper that I happened to have lying around. I bought a heavyweight watercolor paper to test, and noticed two unforeseen problems with the result. First, the laser cuts caused a more significant yellowing of the watercolor paper. Second, the paper has a distinct texture on each side, which is visible as it alternates from page to page due to my book's structure. I found the alternating texture distracting and I wasn't happy with the yellow staining.

Testing laser cuts on a Strathmore cold press heavyweight watercolor paper 

Leaving those paper tests aside, I returned to the hard-cover prototype to try some new materials for the cover. The previous iteration of the prototype was simply covered in plain brown paper and had no lining.
I chose a grey linen cloth to cover the book. After actually trying this, I felt that the rough texture of the linen clashed with the sleek laser cuts. While I want my book cloth to have a varied texture, the linen wasn't quite right.

Grey linen
Re-covering the prototype in cloth

Finally, I tried a bright blue cardstock to line the cover of the book. Because Crater Lake is known for its vivid color, I really wanted to incorporate a bright blue into the design. After trying this out, however, I found that the cardstock's thickness impedes the hinges of the cover. Aesthetically, I also felt that the material was too flat and that its color drew attention away from the shape of the lake, which should be the visual focus.

Lining the prototype in a bright blue cardstock
Left to right: original, first prototype, second laser test

It was progress, though not in the way that I had hoped. Instead of finalizing some of my materials, I learned a bit more about what I really want, and I realized that selecting materials will be a significant challenge as I move forward.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Tangible Maps Exhibit at NACIS 2015

It has been a long hiatus, but I am returning to this project! In fact, there were some developments back in October of 2015 that I'm now catching up on blogging.

Thanks to my previous presentation at NACIS 2013, I was able to team up with fellow NACIS-ites Matt Dooley and Jake Coolidge to curate a special exhibit of tangible maps as part of the annual NACIS map gallery.

The exhibit is now documented in an article in Cartographic Perspectives as well as a dedicated blog.

My bathymetric book was featured alongside several other works. The exhibited maps were linked to the concept of tangibility in a variety of ways. Some, like mine, were meant to be touched by the map user. Other mapmakers highlighted the importance of touch in their design development or their production process.

One of my favorite pieces was Matt Dooley's beautiful "Ceramic," carved with a river network. One of these tiles now hangs on the wall in my home office!

Photo by Charles P. Rader
Photo by Dylan Moriarty

Megen Brittell, Amy Lobben, Megan Lawrence, and Manny Garcia's "Tactile Map Symbols across Three Media" was especially interesting. They conducted a study to compare materials for creating maps to be read by touch, like braille. I especially liked the microcapsule paper, which I had never encountered before. The microcapsule paper is first printed with regular ink, then heat-treated to create raised areas wherever ink has been printed. 

 Microcapsule paper. Photo by Charles P. Rader

The exhibit is documented in an article in the journal Cartographic Perspectives as well as a blog at

Photo by Dylan Moriarty

Photo by Dylan Moriarty

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thesis in progress...

The book is on hold, but I'm coming back to it!

I realize it has been far too long since I last updated...

I'm currently pushing to finish my master's thesis. I conducted an interview study addressing the use of mapping technology in Wilderness/Wildland Search and Rescue... (in places like Crater Lake National Park!)

If you're intrigued by that topic, you can check out

I'l probably be back to sculptural mapping in a month or so.

Edit: my thesis is available online at

Monday, May 26, 2014

Another Sculptural Lake Map (or: the Reason I Haven't Been Working on This Book)

I recently finished a unique and challenging map design project for the Wisconsin Hoofers, the outdoor clubs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It's another sculptural map of lake depth- this time featuring Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The result is this three-dimensional installation with a magnetic surface, allowing anyone to change the features on the map. Labels can be added to show important features or completely stripped off for a more minimalist presentation. 

Unlike my Bathymetric Book of Crater Lake, this piece greatly exaggerates Lake Mendota's depth relative to its surface area.  Lake Mendota is over 200 square miles in surface area but reaches only about 83 feet at its deepest. 

Just after the map was installed on the wall: 

Here's an example of the map with labels added: 

Further reading about this project: 

 Make Magazine
WOW! I was surprised and excited to be featured on Make magazine's website in this post 

posted June 16, 2014

This wonderful blog post about the finished product from the Wisconsin Union newsletter, Terrace Views

posted June 16, 2014

 Geography Department News
This blog post from UW Communications and the UW-Madison Geography Department news 

posted June 24, 2014

My blog post about the completed project and the design choices that shaped it, posted to the University of Wisconsin Cartography Lab blog.

posted May 27, 2014

My blog post about the process of building the map, also posted to the UW Cartography Lab blog 

posted May 19, 2014

This blog post from the Wisconsin Union, which describes the project at an early stage in the building process. It includes several photos of our initial work with the CNC router, cutting the map pieces out of stock material. 

posted Dec 2, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I'm now in a lull in the development of my Bathymetric Book. This project is embedded in the rest of my life, and most of my other projects have strict and swiftly-approaching deadlines. Although I don't have much time to devote to it at the moment, I am gradually developing the content, collecting options for the final structure and materials, and envisioning my production process. 

In the meantime, here's a look at my current prototype, in which I'm scribbling my thoughts on how it's shaping up: 

This version is laser-cut and bound in folios with a Coptic binding; it has a hard cover and a magnet closure. It lies flat when opened to any page, which is an improvement over my previous binding. I especially like the way the hard cover encases and protects the delicate pages and exposed binding inside. I also like the laser-singed edges.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A New Version

I'm now developing what I call the 'production prototype' of the book-- that is, a version that I can produce repeatedly, consistently and efficiently. I'm re-working aspects of the book's structure and design, always with the heart and soul of the piece in mind: the 3D relief model. 

Looking at the original (handmade) version, here's what I'm modifying:  

1) Cutting method

I need the production version to be machine - cut, rather than cut by hand. There are probably dozens of ways to put holes in paper, including CNC routers, die cutting, digitally-controlled blade cutters, and so on. At this point, I feel that the laser cutter is a great option for me. Thanks to Sector67, I have access to the machine without having to buy it or maintain it myself, and I have great support for learning to use it and troubleshooting.

My laser cutter tests turned out great, and this method should allow me to cut several copies at once.

2) Binding

The hand-made version of the book was bound with a Japanese stab binding, in which holes are punched through the entire stack of pages and a cord is stitched through the holes and around the edges to secure the stack.

The problem with the stab binding is that it restricts my thick, stiff pages and prevents them from flipping open nicely like a book.

I used the stab binding with the original because it was built as a stack of single sheets. I now have the option to re-structure the piece as a stack of folded sheets (folios) and change the binding to allow the book to easily open flat.

I tried out a Coptic Stitch binding today, which allows the book to open completely flat, and it seems to do a good job of keeping each page tightly aligned in the stack. That's essential because keeping the relief model properly aligned is the binding's most important job! 

3) Cover 

I would like to incorporate a hard cover to protect the delicate pages.

4) Content? 

I feel that the book has untapped potential for communicating concept, and what it's lacking is something to keep the reader turning the pages. I think it could tell a story... A story about looking deeper, seeing below the surface, and being captivated by nature's infinite intricacy; about seeing what was unseen, whether through the multibeam scanner that my bathymetric data came from, or through a microscope or a telescope; and about cultivating the sense of wonder that Rachel Carson wrote about, which can foster environmental stewardship.

My next steps include:
  • explore printing methods
  • select a source for buying paper
  • decide on structure and materials for the cover
  • design content