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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tutorial: Shadow Box from Regular Frames

I find shadow boxes so charming. I was really inspired by this little one, which I saw on a blog I read. I totally love that idea. It got me thinking about shadow boxes and I was inspired to make one from three dollar stores frames. It's a pretty simple project, but I love the end result.

Ok, first supplies:
3 Wood Frames (more on that later)
Wood glue or Liquid Nails
Wood filler
Clamps or painters tape
Painters tape
Spray paint
Scrap of scrapbooking paper
Something to put in your box
Craft knife

Step 1: Choosing Your Frame
Choosing the right type of frame is essential for this project. You want to find three frames of the same design that will stack flatly on top of each other. I was really surprised these embossed frames from the dollar store worked, but the relief doesn't rise above the edges of the frame and they stack flatly, with the sides square to the front.

Step 2: Prepare the Frames for Gluing
First, take out the glass from two frames. On the third frame, bend up the staples or whatever is keeping your glass in, but leave the glass there. This is going to be your top frame, so make sure it's the prettiest of the three. With a pair of pliers, wrap the tabs in a circle toward the frame, so that they keep the glass in place but are not visible from the front. Do the same thing to the middle frame, or simply remove the tabs. The back frame you can leave alone.

Step 3: Glue Your Frames
Stack your frames to make sure everything looks good. You need to leave the glass in the top frame, otherwise you won't be able to get it back in once the stack is glued. Generously apply glue to the front of the bottom and middle frame, stack, square up and clamp, using scraps to protect the finish of the frame. If you don't have clamps, press down on the stack and have someone help you tightly wrap painters tape around the frame to hold them in place. Let dry overnight.

Step 4: Wood Filler and Sanding
Remove the clamps or painters tape. Fill in the cracks on the side with wood filler. Let dry, then sand the heck out of the frames.

Step 5: Protect Your Glass for Painting
I would recommend painting your frame to hide the wood filler on the sides. You want to protect the glass. Use painters tape to tape off the glass, using the craft knife to get into the corners, then use it to lightly trim off the excess tape. Do the same to the back of the glass if you want to paint the inside (which I opted not to do).

Step 5: Painting
Paint. Let dry.

Step 6: Prepare Back
Remove tape from glass, and clean it. Decide on what you want to put in your glass. I decided to use some silver spoons I got from my great-grandma. I picked a scrapbooking paper that goes with the theme of my kitchen, then trimmed it to fit the back of the frame. Adhere to back.

Step 7: Add Objects
I used a needle and thread to secure my spoons in the box, plus a touch of hot glue that will come right off if I ever decide to remove the spoons. I also used a little glue on the backside of the stitching, to make sure it really stayed in place. Then I popped it back into the frame, and that's it!

I'm so excited to get my very own kitchen and I already know this is going up on some shelves near my table (which David is nearly done building me--it looks AMAZING). I'm also super excited to start taking pictures with my actual furniture in the background. My mom has the best light, so of course I go up to take pictures at her house, but it's weird to have her things in the background. My mom has beautiful taste, but it's not my taste; I feel like explaining every time that it's not my couch/chair/piano/table/lamp/tassel or whatever that shows up in the picture. But the Dr. Pepper is always mine. :)

I wish I knew more of the story of these spoons, but I have no idea why my grandma had them. I have a few more, and I love the individual character they have and they make me smile when I see them.

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  1. this is brilliant!
    thanks so much for posting :-)

  2. This is an excellent idea. Thanks for the tutorial!

    (I'm also thrilled to see that you have the same paper trimmer as me. That's my favorite kind. I own four!)

  3. Such a cute idea! And great tutorial!

  4. I LOVE your stuff! I just wanted to let you know that I featured you today on my blog.

    Lara @ A Daily Post

  5. 'Saw your craft on Life as Lori! Great project!- Ann Marie at

  6. Amazing! I was just looking at shadow boxes at Hobby Lobby but I was too cheap to buy them for $15 a piece! I love a shadow box for $3! Great job!

  7. Found you from Fireflies and Jellybeans. What an awesome tutorial! I LOVE this idea and will be hitting my Dollar Store this week!

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jen @ Noting Grace

  8. Hi,
    I followed you over from the Life As Lori link party. You have a teriffic blog. I am now a follower of yours. I would really love it if you came over and visited me too. Be sure to enter the drawings for the necklaces, if you do. Rory

  9. Excellent idea and tutorial! So clever and well thought out. Gonna have to try this!

  10. Fantastic idea!!!
    love the spoons!!!

  11. Great idea! Saw this over at CSI. Thanks for the tutorial.


    Stopping by from the CSI project! :)

  13. genious!!! Love that you glued three together!!

  14. That looks great! LOVE it and great tutorial. Visiting from CSI. :)

  15. How smart is this? Terrific tutorial!

  16. Great idea! And thanks for the tutorial. I may have to try this now.

  17. Great idea. Thanks for the tutorial.

  18. What a smart idea to glue the frames together! I wouldn't of thought of that.
    Saw this on the CSI Project!

  19. Hi! I just wanted to stop by and say congrats! I didn't have time to comment when I was judging the CSI entries last week. You did a great job! I love your project because you had an item you wanted (a shadowbox) and you figured out a good way to use dollar store stuff to make the thing you wanted. To me, that's the essence of shopping at the dollar store for craft supplies!

  20. Linked up to your project today!

  21. Great job! I want to try it!

  22. This is ingenious and relatively simple for a do it yourselfer! Thanks so much for sharing this project.

  23. I love this...I can't believe I never thought of it before. I hope you don't mind if I add it to my DIY Holiday Gift list! Thanks.

  24. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Omgosh PERFECT! ! I have been playing around with ideas in my head of how to make my own shadow box and I am way too cheap to buy the three I want! Thank you! Thank you! thank you!


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