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How to Create a Shadow Box? | Decorating Visita Casas

shadow box


If you want to feature a graduation gift, baby shower gift, Valentine's Day; you can make a shadow box. You can actually place almost anything on a shadow box for you to preserve cherished collections; place your favorite collector's item toy car in a shadow box or some family pictures.

There are many simple and complex ways of making one; although in reality everything depends on you and how much time you want to invest in making it. That's why, here at Decorating Visita Casas; we bring you one of the most elegant options out there. It's the one we use most of the time; but the procedure can be moved to other materials that are more suited to what you would like.

The Magic Behind the Shadows

It is sad to think that objects with greater sentimental value than a person may have; sometimes they end up lost on the road. Many small details are devoured by dust; or they simply fall one day and break into a thousand pieces impossible to put together again. At first; when I first heard about a Shadow Box I asked myself:

"How can you take a person's valuable things, put them in a basket, and then give them back?"

Then they explained exactly the concept and I fell in love with it. I think the first Shadow Box I saw in my life was in my grandmother's house. Or maybe it was used in a Pixar animated film by one of its characters to protect the toys.

The fact is that you create a Shadow Box; Became for a long time one of my favorite hobbies and part-time jobs. Do you want to learn how to make a really special one? Well, take note!


To be able to build this elegant, simple Shadow Box that really protects the elements inside it and; which can easily be integrated into the decoration in a room, you will need the following:

A frame: Although it is about building a Shadow Box, it is not about doing it from scratch. A frame is really good optimized for this type of project.

Hot Glue: This is the tool you will need to put all of these pieces together.

Stickers: Not quite necessary, but it is always nice to have some.

Scissors: Too obvious?

Cardboard: Bring all those amazon boxes (thick foam also serves)

Choosing the Style for the Shadow Box

shadow box

shadow box

This is definitely the most important part when creating a Shadow Box, even more than the assembly itself; the creative process and the decision making of what will go on it, defines a lot about how it is exhibited.

If it is very heavy, then you will not be able to place it on the wall without risking a break in the bottom; everything could end up lying on the floor.

If the interior has organic components, then it definitely will not last for a lifetime; In fact you would have to change the organic components from time to time to keep the original concept.

If it is there to reinforce a decorative theme like Halloween or Christmas; then the way to integrate it into the final decoration is very important.

shadow box

And lastly, if you only want to preserve important things; it is crucial that the arrangement be beautiful, flashy. Otherwise you will be condemned to live in a corner where you will soon forget it. The ideal is that the looks of the visitors and your own will be diverted to it.

Sorting the Parts

We can classify the components of a shadow box into: internal, embellishers and external. Those that are intended to protect the important elements are external ones. The final decoration is the one that will go inside the box and; the trim elements are small details that complement the interior decoration.

It is important to decide at this point whether, the internal elements of the shadow box; Can be felt again easily or if you will completely seal the decoration.

If you are going to seal everything completely, then I recommend you include in the materials to use: a drill, a vacuum cleaner. I know it sounds strange, but; a fully sealed shadow box will retain much better organic elements or that used to be alive, if you extract the oxygen once armed.

How could you extract the oxygen to be completely empty? Well do not worry about doing a 100% perfect job, but if you want to achieve it perfectly; then you can buy one of those bags to pack vacuum clothes in the store.

Using the scissor, trim the area where the button is. Then use the drill to open a hole to the back or bottom of the shadow box; and using hot glue, paste the button well, and then use the vacuum to extract the oxygen.

Assembling the "Box"

Leaving aside the technique of vacuum packaging; Arming the shadow box using the materials described above is not a very difficult thing to do, but you must do it with patience.

First it starts by disarming the whole frame and you do not push anything!

Then, using the internal measurements of the frame; you must cut the pieces of cardboard, hard foam or you can even use wood like MDF or HDF.

The good thing is that the measurements will be dictated by the frame, always using the part where the back of the same.

Remember that we recommend using a frame of family photos for the economic ones they are; and because they offer the advantage of an elegant glass, in addition to an appearance oriented to the scenery.

The depth of a shadow box is determined by the number of internal elements you place in it; But 2 ½ '' is more than enough, so everything will look much more compact inside it.

Once you've cut the pieces that will add depth to your frame and turn it into a shadow box it's time to put it all together!

Assembling Everything

Use staples, glue, hot glue or even nails; It all depends on the final material with which you are doing your shadow box and if you want to keep things empty.

Start by joining the newly cut pieces so that you can integrate them to the back of the frame as if they were one.

Using ethyl alcohol and absorbent paper; Clean the glass very carefully on both sides.

Now comes the most delicate part of the job; remember that when adding the glue you should avoid spills at all costs so you do not stain the glass. Although, you can always clean it if it's necessary.

Uses hot glue for both glass and cut pieces; you can use any other super-efficient glue that is transparent if you wish.

Once you have assembled these two pieces in the frame; you can begin to create the scenery that you will exhibit inside your shadow box.

There are so many alternatives that we simply will not give you advice about it, listen to your creativity. The important thing now is to place enough hot glue on the edges of the "box" you made; remember to add the back of the frame.

When everything is already assembled, you will notice that the final result is much greater than the sum of its parts!

Final Details

Remember that there are a lot of things that you can use to make your own shadow box. You can even use scraps and turn it into something spectacular. All you need to have is the artistry to put things together to make each design go with the theme to make it look just perfect.

But when everything is armed you feel that something is missing; then you can buy stickers with the reason of your shadow box and paste them on the outside.

You'd be surprised what a witch or spider sticker can do in a Halloween shadow box. So do not be discouraged and send us pictures of your designs.

A perfect Decor

A shadow box is a perfect décor that you can place in your room and it just the best way you can feature your precious collections. This can also become a perfect gift that you can give your friends or your family. A shadow box can be used to create anything.

As for the materials, you can just use just anything to personalize it. You can make use of seashells, old coins, photographs, or even you baby’s first clothes can be placed on a shadow box. There are a numerous themes that you can use for your shadow box.

There could be a lot of decorations, memorable souvenirs from a friends wedding, a picture of you and your best friend or other special items that are left lying around the house with no specific place where you can cherish them. Thus a shadow box is a perfect place where you can place the precious memoirs.

In creating a shadow box, the first thing that you can do is plan out a theme for your design. If you want to feature a picture of a summer escapade, a Hawaiian theme may suit your shadow box. 

You can collect seashells, or paint it with bright summer colors or anything that you can associate with summer is best used to decorate your shadow box and you can give it to your friend who is with you on the picture or you can place it as a decoration in your room.

About the Author

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I love writing about interior design. I am in love with achieving harmony at home to improve the well-being of my family. I usually write for the "Visitacasas" blog, both in Spanish and English, and personally answer the questions about home decoration of all our users.

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