We already published our gift guide for people who love science, but these wooden maps from Below the Boat – which depict in three dimensions the underwater features of coastal regions and interior lakes around United States – are so cool, I had to include them as a late entry.
Starting with a bathymetric chart (the underwater equivalent of a topographic map), the contours are laser-cut into sheets of Baltic birch and glued together to create a powerful visual depth. Select layers are hand-colored blue so it's easy to discern land from water, major byways are etched into the land, then the whole thing's framed in a custom, solid-wood frame and protected seamlessly with a sheet of durable, ultra-transparent Plexiglas.
The result is stunning. It lifts the surface of the water back like a veil, exposing the often-overlooked, under-explored, awe-inspiring world that lies below. To those familiar with the floor of the ocean or the bed of a lake, it's a beautiful reminder of the deep channels, sharp drop-offs, and mountainous landscapes that are otherwise hidden from view. To the uninitiated, it's wonderfully eye-opening; as though the world has suddenly taken on a fourth dimension.
I think I'm in love.