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Shadowbox Art

Follow these step-by-step instructions and create a one-of-a-kind shadowbox.

Project by Shirley Rufener, CPD.

Materials and Tools:

two 8" x 10" flat wood frames
photos and coordinating memorabilia
Aleene's Aliphatic Wood Glue
Aleene's Platinum Bond 7800
Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue
Aleene's Instant Decoupage gloss finish
Duncan/PSX Paper Rock Scissors glue stick
Duncan/PSX Paper Rock Scissors 3-D mounting squares
ArtEmboss medium pewter metal embossing sheet kit
ArtEmboss tracing alphabet pattern #50051X
ArtEmboss tool set #11107P
Design Originals Legacy Collage paper (Peter's dreams #0538, red patterns #0532)
Sizzix die-cutter
Sizzix dies: airplane #38-0126, banner #38-0167, baseball gear #38-0289
Veggie Leather firm craft foam
Tsukineko Stazon jet black solvent ink pad
dauber tool
2 sheets 8-1/2" x 11" card stock
several sheets scrap paper
clear tape
8" x 10" piece sturdy cardboard
1 yard thin brown twisted paper cording
small ball chain necklace
16 silver 1/8" round eyelets
1/8" anywhere hole punch
eyelet setter
pounding mat
Fiskars paper trimmer
Fiskars small pointed scissors
Fiskars Softtouch micro-tip scissors
Fiskars Softtouch multipurpose scissors
Fiskars two-sided craft cutting mat
hardwood half-round clay sculpting tool
craft knife
soft cloth or paper towels
needle-nose pliers
wire cutters
fine-grit sandpaper


1. To create the shadowbox: Remove easel back and glass from both frames.

2. Remove the prongs or points that held mat in place, with pliers, from the top frame only. Optional: Sand and paint or stain frames as desired. Allow to dry.

3. Lightly sand any paint or glaze from the top surface only of bottom frame to rough it up.

Figure A

4. Stack and glue frames together using wood glue, positioning both right side up, and let dry flat (figure A).

5. For embossed metal shapes: Cut off roll a metal rectangle slightly smaller than die pad using multipurpose scissors.

Figure B

6. Layer and tape metal sheet, then card stock "shim" to bottom of die design. Place face down on cutting pad and cut shapes (figure B).

Figure C

7. Punch two eyelet holes, 1/8 inch from plane tail edge and banner ends. Insert eyelets down through top and set with tool over pounding mat (figure C).

Figure D

8. Place metal shapes wrong side up on firm craft foam. Puff large areas by rubbing in a circular motion with round end of sculpting tool (figure D).

Figure E

9. Emboss details on metal from the backside with pointed end of stylus tool (figure E).

Figure F

10. To emboss "DREAM" onto banner, place the alphabet tracing pattern on front of metal, and emboss over transparency as a guide (figure F).

Figure G

11. Antique details by placing metal on scratch paper, apply ink with dauber, and wipe off excess immediately with soft cloth (figure G).

Figure H

12. Silhouette cut the subject in photos and glue to metal using a thin layer of 7800 adhesive (figure H).

13. When dry, mat the photo shape with metal, leaving a 1/16-inch border.

14. To create the collage: Before gluing any collage elements, plan positions of all items on collage paper. Exact measurements of frame openings often vary up to 1/4 inch, so use mat as a guide.

15. Place easel mat over desired area of background paper and trace shape. Secure card stock to back of collage paper with glue stick. Cut shape through both layers with paper trimmer.

Figure I

16. Place easel mat on scrap cardboard, trace and cut to the same size with craft knife on protected surface (figure I).

17. Measure, cut and secure a 1-1/4-inch red paper strip over right edge of background with glue stick.

18. Measure, mark and punch two rows of six holes 1/4 inch from paper seam, spaced 1-1/4 inch apart. The mat we used was 7-3/4 inches high; therefore, the first hole was placed 3/4 inch from bottom edge of paper.

Figure J

19. Set eyelets in holes on pounding mat using setting tool and hammer.

20. Weave three "X" patterns through eyelets with cording. Tape ends to back side (figure J).

21. Using wire cutters, cut two 2-inch pieces of ball chain. Antique with black ink and let dry.

Figure K

22. Connect plane to banner with chain through eyelets, and glue ends behind plane tail with 7800 adhesive (figure K).

23. Optional: Decoupage the wood frame if desired with strips of paper and Aleene's Instant Decoupage.

24. Place collage background, cardboard and easel mat in bottom frame and secure with fasteners.

Figure L

25. Secure photos and metal shapes to background using one to three stacked layers of mounting squares for lots of dimension (figure L).

26. Embellish collage and frame ledge with memorabilia using appropriate Aleene's adhesive (Fast Grab Tacky Glue for wood miniatures, lace and hard to hold items, 7800 for flat applications of metal, clay or plastic items, and mounting squares for raised metal or plastic embellishments and matted photos).

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