My Martian Globe project isn't going according to the plan.

Maybe "the slices" are too wide, but I know for a fact they were used by some people to create globes. Anyway, I took some test B&W printouts, cut them to shape, wet the paper and tried to lay it over the surface of the globe. And the edges crumple - or the middle rips if I pull the edges more straight. The plain printer paper simply isn't stretchy/compressible enough to follow the curve of the globe.

I'd prefer to avoid the task of making the 'gore map' from scratch, with narrower slices. Never mind the globe I'm using as a base already has Earth map on it, and its slices are exactly the same size, no wrinkling or crumpling, so it must be doable.

So - what material could I get, and have the prints made on it - that would be slightly more stretchy (or compressible) than plain paper?

  • What types of additives have you tried in your paper? Some solvents and soaking may help. Ive heard of even using something like fabric softener. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 17:21
  • @BrownRedHawk: None; just soaking in clean water. It can't be anything that would bleach the print or prevent sticking with glue afterwards, but I'd be open for suggestions.
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 17:35
  • It sounds like you need to move to a non-cellulose paper then. Something like linen or similar, that will not shred or dissolve. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 17:36
  • If your printer has the doors to open so that you can run paper through without it going through rollers ... you might be able to make something to use -- use spray glue to affix a stretchy material to paper or some other non-stretchy backing. But you'll need to trim it so there's nothing that might get caught going through the printer.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:06
  • The problem is, how do you feed a stretchy material through a printer without deforming it (for that matter you'd have to pre-deform you images)
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


How about tricot? That should be stretchy enough.
You could, for instance, print on a T-shirt, if you're fortunate enough to have a printer that can do the job. Or else there are companies offering to print a given image on a T-shirt.

Be aware that edges may fray and/or curl, but good glue should prevent/solve that issue.

Make sure the size of the print is not that much different for the size of the globe. The less you have to stretch the tricot, the less you will look through the holes in the fabric, and the less stretched out the details are.
I hope this gives you some inspiration.

  • A print on cloth seems like an interesting option, although the seams will be likely more visible, plus the print quality is often inferior. Even iron-in print would do. Actually, I'm thinking if iron-in print could be used on a different type of material...
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 16:27

You could print the image onto a latex balloon.

Cut the image out then stretch the latex material onto the surface of your globe. Though it would be very tricky to get the image size right and then holding it in place while the glue dried would be difficult.

But you would run into the same trouble as you did with the paper, image would warp because you are trying to "directly" conformal map a square 2d surface to a round 3d surface. The math people say, nay nay.

Why not go old school, like really old school, and draw the map onto the globe by hand? You already have a map and it's broken up into a number of latitudinal divisions. Transfer those divisions onto your globe and map the geography one division at a time lining up the next division as you go. It's an option.

  • These services provide only a small monochrome print, not over the whole balloon. And it looks pretty washed-out once the balloon is inflated. The map I have is complex, full color, very detailed - definitely not something I could replicate by hand.
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 4:48
  • What about Joe's suggestion ... Glue down (using 3m removable adhesive) a piece of latex onto a heavy card stock and feed that through an inkjet printer. Peal the latex off the card stock and then stick it onto the globe. But as you stretch the latex the image would break apart. Actually I'm not sure if inkjet ink would stick to latex. ... Hmmm ... What if, you printed your image onto a piece of thermoplastic and vacuum formed it into a ball shape. Would have to be two pieces. Joining and trimming would be tricky. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 1:22
  • I'm fairly sure ink from inkjet printer won't stick to latex. And I'm fairly sure it would melt in the laser printer, gumming it up. Something like transparencies for laser printers would work, except I'd need it to be, uh, non-transparent.
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 1:56

Have you considered inkjet printable vinyl? I've seen it in both static cling and sticker varieties.

  • The sticker version I've got isn't noticeably stretchier than paper but it's not too expensive on ebay to try it.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 14:56
  • @ChrisH : have you tried warming it slightly? Take a hair drier or a heat gun (at a distance) to warm the area you want to stretch, then apply it.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 16:39
  • @Joe I've only used it on flat surfaces (electronics project boxes). As it can take the heat of a laser printer fuser I doubt a hair dryer will do much good (the inkjet version is the same apart from the coating).
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 18:07
  • @ChrisH : As you mention 'stickier', is there some non-stretchy backing to the adhesive? If so, that could explain why it doesn't deform when going through the printer. I'd suggest trying the heating approach at least once -- it might take a heat gun or placing it next to a halogen lamp, but there should be a temperature at which is easily goes through plastic deformation. (ie, stretches and doesn't spring back fully)
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 19:39
  • The plastic itself is the non-stretchy bit. I've used professionally-made vinyl stickers before and they don't stretch either. It's not a desirable property in most cases because it distorts the print. Some plastics decompose or char without softening, in others the temperature difference between softening and turning brown is impractically small. But I'm not saying is not worth the OP trying, I'm just confident it's not a simple solution.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 5:53

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