Virginia B. Sauer


Shadow boxes have always made treasured gifts and mementos.
They are usually comparatively quick, easy, and inexpensive to
make, particularly since you can use commercial and/or handmade
objects depending upon your schedule and budget. Although
traditionally made with "compartmentalized" wooden frames under
glass, crafts stores' inexpensive wooden display shapes with
mini shelves provide additional charming options.

miniaturized/reduced copies of announcement, cards, and photos
wherever applicable):

-- New Baby: shadow box or house shape, birth
announcement, statistics, photo, lacy
bassinets, place for parents to add first
lock of hair, ceramic or ovenbake clay baby
decorations, et cetera

-- Wedding/Anniversary: Shadow box or heart shape, wedding
invitation/announcement, photo, silk flower
bouquet, ceramic or ovenbake clay figures of
a bridal couple, wedding cake, and/or other
symbols of weddings, quotation (such as I
Corinthians 13:7: "...Love bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, and
endures all things")

-- Teacher: Apple shape painted red with green stem,
wooden or ovenbake clay shapes symbolizing
teaching, pictures of your child (or, if
available, of the entire class), blackboard
on which you've painted the teacher's name,
school, and the year, nice quotation about
teaching (such as "To teach is to touch a
life forever")

-- Christmas: Tree shape painted deep green, recipients'
names painted on trunk, star or angel glued
to top, photos of that family and their home,
ceramic or ovenbake clay shapes symbolizing
Christmas, quotation such as "All hearts come
home for Christmas"

-- Chanukah: Star of David shape, recipients' names painted on,
photos of the family and their home, ceramic or
ovenbake clay symbos of Chanukah (such as Menorah,
oil, dreidel, or latkes), quotation signifying the
significance of the miracle

-- New Home: House shape, recipients' names and photos, ceramic
or ovenbake clay objects, meaningful quotation
(such as "To have someplace to go is home, to have
someone to love is family, to have both is a


-- Container, such as one of the following. (Obviously, if
you already have the materials you wish to use, you will need
to ensure that the container has the proper-sized segments or
shelves for your particular purpose ... e. g., if you plan to
use a full-sized 6x5-inch announcement, one compartment will
have to slightly exceed that size, whereas very tiny items
would get lost in oversized compartments):

Shallow wooden box (with or without frame and glass cover)
divided into several sections or "compartments" - e. g.,


Wooden shapes with mini shelves: Craft stores (such as
Frank's) carry inexpensive wooden display cases with mini
shelves that are ideal for this purpose. These are
readily available in such shapes as Christmas trees,
apples, houses, and hearts - or could easily be cut into
shapes of your own if you are remotely handy with a saw
(e. g., a Star of David or baseball glove). You can also
substitute matt board, which can easily be cut with an
XActo knife, covered with velvet or other fabric, and
edged with braid before adding the wooden shelves (which
can also be cut with an Xacto knife on thin wood) - e. g.,
/ --\

-- Photos and copies of announcements/invitations where
applicable. ("Miniaturize" whenever needed by reducing
announcements/invitations on photocopiers, and standing at a
distance to take photographs of existing photos - grouping
several together to get the most for your money.)

-- Ceramic, wooden, or handmade miniatures of items relating to
the theme. (See above under "sample themes" for possible

-- Paint, if desired (e. g., to personalize items ... Dip
toothpick or straight pin into acrylic paint if you are not
skilled with a paint brush).


-- If necessary, "miniaturize" anything out of scale (e. g.,
reducing announcements/invitations on photocopiers, and
standing at a distance to take photographs of existing photos
- grouping several together to get the most for your money).

-- If necessary, decorate the background ... e. g., stain the
wood, paint the apple red with a green stem, cover hand-cut
matt board with velvet, or whatever.

-- If you plan to paint a message onto the background, or to
glue fabric over a certain area (such as pin dots or mini
hearts behind the compartment to contain a lacy bassinet),
do so now.

-- Either collect ceramic or wooden miniatures or use ovenbake
clay (e. g., FIMO, Sculpey, Cernit, or Promat) or air-drying
bread dough to make your own. (If time permits, it is
especially nice to make your own, since this enables you to
both personalize them and to achieve the effect desired,
rather than being at the mercy of what is commercially

-- Arrange each item on the shelves or inside of the
compartments. Try different positions and combinations until
you are satisfied with the results.

-- Glue the items in place.

-- Set aside to dry.

N. B. For very tiny items, such as 1/4 - 1/2 inch figures, I
find FIMO the easiest ovenbake clay to use to achieve
exact definition.

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