How to Design a Shadow Box

Shadow boxes can be creative ways to present keepsakes or collectibles of all kinds. Everything from coins to photographs and clothing can be displayed in a shadow box to preserve precious memorabilia. Shadow boxes also can be given as a gift with the recipients’ interests in mind. Most certainly those who receive them will forever cherish them. There are limitless ideas and designs you can use for creating one of these shadow boxes. Just follow the steps below to create one.

Step 1 - Choose a Theme

The first goal in designing a shadow box is to determine a theme. Then assemble items that will fit the chosen design. If the box is for a child, it could be centered around memorabilia from the child’s life – everything from a birth certificate, to a favorite toy, blanket, or photographs. A shadow box can also be given to parents as a wedding anniversary gift. To commemorate that special occasion, adding photos and mementos from their life together. Asking different family members to each contribute an item will not only add to the uniqueness of the box and but will allow other loved ones to participate in creating the gift.

Step 2 - Choose a Box

After items have been collected for your box, you must determine how to arrange them in the box. Because these boxes are called “shadow boxes,” generally you will use a box of some kind to display the items you will place in the box. Almost any box shape can be used – the more interesting the shape, the more unique your shadow box will be. You choices might include such things as drawers, cabinets, frames, display cases, cardboard, and even foam.

Step 3 - Choose a Box Background

Once you have chosen the object to be used as the shadow box, you will want to prepare its background. There are several different ways you can do this. For a colorful and easy way to cover your background that fits in the back of your box. Because there are such a wide variety choose an appropriate fabric. You will have almost unlimited choices of color and styles. Depending on the type of background you choose, you may also want to consider one you've painted.

Step 4 - Organize the Box Objects

When assembling your items in the shadow box, it is important that you balance them appropriately. Generally, you should begin by adding the largest items first. Position them on the bottom of the box, then arrange all other items around this largest one. One idea design that seems to work well for some, is to arrange photographs, certificates and other paper items behind your more three-dimensional items.

Once you have arranged your objects in an attractive design, you can glue them in place or, if they are heavier, you can drill holes in them and attach them to the box with twist ties.

Step 5 - Protect them with Glass

Once all the items are secured, place a glass plate on the face of the shadow box. This will not only make the box look more attractive, but will protect the items on display.