19.4.13

Shadow Box Decor

Welcome to another home decor tutorial!
Some of my favorite, and most precious, pieces of decor are those that are made from items that have sentimental value. Shadow boxes are a wonderful way to display items that are special to you. Those of us who are parents often have little items that need someplace to call a home so that they can be kept safe for our children. 
A few weeks back I made a point of putting together a shadow box for each of my kids with something that held sentimental value for them. 
They love them, and so do I. (Especially because I don't have a pile of keepsakes waiting to be put away or used in some way!)  
We're also lovers of all things "nature"! We have little pieces of nature collected in jars and boxes to be used for something some day. This blue jay skull has been in dire need of care so it wasn't destroyed. My mom helped me by being my hands for this project. Join us as we show you how we made a display shadow box for this little omnibus.

What you need:
  • 2 or 3 small items to be displayed
  • a shadow box, we picked this one up from a thrift store for a few dollars, emptied it of it's contents, and repainted it. 
  • a decorative or coordinating background paper, we printed out the definition of bluejay on some heavy paper
  •  some Styrofoam or foam core that can be used as a spacer beneath your items
  • a razor blade
  • a glue gun and glue
  • spray adhesive
  • tools to detach and reattach the back of your box
As I mentioned, this frame was taken apart and repainted with a fresh coat of paint. It had some scratches and such and needed some freshening. The first thing we did after that was to clean off the paint that got on the glass. 
 Using a razor blade, clean off any residual paint.
 Give it a good cleaning, inside and out. We used some rubbing alcohol. It does a great job of cleaning things up.
 Next, you want to work with your frame and your background. Removing the hanging device on the back of your frame may be necessary especially if you need to turn your frame sideways to display your items.

Next, depending on what you use to decorate your background you'll want to center it, and make sure that it will fit properly in your frame. I did some Photoshopping of a picture I took of a vintage dictionary, highlighting the definition for bluebird. This is a pretty cool idea if you are going to display things like precious stones, animal skulls, bugs or butterflies. It takes care of the need to explain what it is, and it looks pretty neat in the background. Mark your paper at the corners if you think it will help you place it correctly!
 Now you are going to head outside to spray the back of your background paper with the spray adhesive. Please do this outside! It's just not a good idea to do it inside.
 Give it a light and even spray.

While the adhesive is still sticky, place it carefully on the back piece for your frame. Smooth it out evenly to ensure it has adhered.

 On a flat surface, with something underneath like cardboard, a cutting board or other firm surface, use your razor blade to carefully trim around the edge of your piece.



 Ok, that's done! Next is mounting your little treasures. We used what we had. I'm all for recycling! This piece of foam was from a shipping box from Amazon. Cut a piece of foam large enough to be a good base for your treasure to rest on. We ended up trimming a piece down so that it wouldn't show so much once it was mounted and glued onto the background. You don't want the spacer to be distracting from the item to be mounted.
 Measure it and trim it as you need.
 Place it and see if you like how it looks. Once you glue it down, its difficult to remove. (Experience speaking here!) A good part to this step is to make sure that the frame with the glass fits over the top of your items. If you need to, trim the spacer so that it will fit comfortably under the glass.
                                                            It's a good idea at this point to decide where you want to place it on the background as well. Make a small pencil mark to ensure you place it correctly once you are ready to glue it down.
 Once you are happy with the shape and size of your spacer, glue your treasure to the spacer and hold it in place while it cools down.


 Put a dot of glue on the under side of the spacer, and place it on your background where you marked.

 Repeat this placement step with each of your small treasures.  For the feather, a very thin piece of foam was cut and glued to the back.
 The placement of the foam is important on feathers so that the feather doesn't become disfigured from the glue. You want the foam glued along the ridged ridge of the feather.


 The last step is replacing the items into the frame. Carefully place the frame and glass back over your treasures being careful not to bump the pieces. Be aware of the height of your objects. Attach the back in the reverse of how you detached it.
A new hanging apparatus can be attached as well if you would like to hang it.
It would be really lovely, I think, to make a whole gallery wall of displayed items. Maybe a small wall, in a hallway, or perhaps even in a more prominent place to be a focal point of your room. No matter where you display these, they will definitely draw attention! 
 I hope you enjoyed seeing this come together. 
Have you done a shadow box before? What did you display?






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Design, Dining & Diapers 

 Poofy Cheeks
It's Overflowing


Liz Marie Blog

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