How to Create a Shadowbox

by on November 14th, 2010
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Everyone has a collection of knickknacks from various things over the years-the trip you took to Florida, the ticket stubs from your first date, the tassle from your college graduation. And all these things seem to get thrown together either in a drawer or a box and forgotten about. Why not display them? There is an easy way to use these items to make unique art that can be displayed almost anywhere. Shadowboxes can be many shapes and sizes and either displayed alone or together for one-of-a-kind d├ęcor.

There several different ways to get the shadow box itself. Craft stores and sometimes places like Walmart will sell them premade. Goodwill and Salvation Army often have used ones for under a dollar which is perfect if you want a distressed look or are intending to paint the box another color anyway. Cigar stores also have many different cigar boxes that they will sell for a few dollars and make excellent shadow boxes.

The next step is to figure out what you will do with your shadowbox. Bring out all your knickknacks and decided how you want to group them. You could go by themes, such as family history, seashells from the beach, dance recitals, wedding and anniversary, etc. or you could choose to mix a whole bunch of different items together to show some of your general likes.

Once you know what you want in your box, you need to figure out how you will display the items. Always stagger the heights of the items to add visual interest-bigger in back and smaller in front. Pay attention to the different textures and shapes the items may have, and put these throughout so it helps draw the eye around the box. Mixing colors is essential too, even if the items you put in the boxes may only be composed of two or three different colors. Distributing them evenly throughout prevents items from getting lost and provides a more pleasing display.

Now that you have an idea of how you want the items inside of the box to look, you can decide what you would like to do with the box itself. Some shadow boxes have backs and some don’t so you have different options depending on what you want. You could line the shadow box with fabric, either all the same or different ones for the sides and back. Scrapbooking paper could also be used to line the inside of the shadow box or to decorate the outside. The inside of the box could be painted one color and the outside a different one.

When you actually put the shadow box together, there are some different things you can do to actually display your elements. You don’t just have to place your items on the bottom of the box; they can be put on the backs of the shadow boxes for more visibility or even hung from the top of the shadow box with a hook. Only use glue to secure items that you are absolutely never going to want to take out again. Better options are double-sided tape or sticky tack to secure items, especially round ones that you don’t want rolling around in there. The best option is to look up some of the adhesives scrapbookers use because they will be the most gentle on your items.

Once you have your shadow boxes ready to display, you need to decide where and how you would like to display them. Shadow boxes can either be hung on the wall or displayed on a table or desk. If you make multiples, consider grouping them together for added visual interest. This can look really interesting if you have used different sized boxes.

Don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing all this! A shadowbox is a great way to reminisce and create a beautiful homage to the past or just show off the interesting things you have collected.


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