Despite the unfortunate name, Etsy isn’t all popsicle-stick sculptures and kitten sweaters. Enter: Debunking Etsy,a bimonthly column profiling all the wonderfully talented craftsmen who use the site to peddle well-built, hard-wearing and handsome goods for your home and person.
Back in architecture school, Karen O'Leary hand-cut a site map for her final thesis. She didn't cut another until years later, while working for a firm in New York City. Only that time, it took her a full nine months. And she carved an entire city.
After O'Leary posted her first map on Etsy, it sold quickly, leading to a frenzy of requests. Such were the unexpected origins of O'Leary's shop Studio KMO, a now-Charlotte-based-studio that churns out startlingly intricate replicas of cities, neighborhoods, parks and towns throughout America and the globe.
It's difficult enough for most functioning adults to fill in a fancy coloring book — O'Leary sketches entire urban plans, then punctiliously carves every, single, line. Lines, mind you, which can weave with reckless abandon. Some cities are rectilinear, but many older metropolises, especially those in Europe, are irregular, and present significant challenges.
For her money, the hardest map O'Leary's ever had to carve was London. Of course. It's a bloody mess. Paris, an iconic urban plan, is her favorite. And New York is her at her most comfortable because she knows the streets so well.
As if your "GIFT IDEA" alarms weren't already blaring, O'Leary also takes custom orders. Hometowns, vacation hamlets ... it's all possible, in sizes up to 22x30. Also scattered throughout O'Leary's shop are various prints and letterpress maps for less change, while she has hopes of adding a watercolor collection down the line. For now, we recommend checking out a few of our favorites below and visiting O'Leary's shop for full offerings. Keep up with her on social, too.
New York City Neighborhoods
San Francisco Neighborhoods
Miniatures (Made to Order)
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