How to Make a Shadow Box

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Photo by Karen K. Will
A shadow box created with sand on the box, featuring a Hawaiian flower, seashells, a photo and the title Hawaii 2013.

For that someone on your list who recently got married, had a baby or took a vacation, a shadow box makes a memorable gift. Some friends took a trip to Hawaii last year, so I made them a shadow box to commemorate their adventure.

To give the project a beach feel, you’ll want to cover the entire box, inside and out, with sand. To do that, smear all-purpose glue on the inside boards of the box, then dump sand over the glue and press down firmly. Set the box aside and let it dry overnight. The next day, repeat the process on the outside boards of the box.

Once everything is dry, spray the whole box with a clear sealer, as a way to ensure that the sand stays in place. Let the sealer dry completely, then give it a second coat and let it dry again.

Glue your lettering – stickers, rub-ons or die-cuts – onto the bottom of the frame, along the outside edge. Spray everything again with clear sealer and let it dry overnight.

Attach textured cardstock to the back of the box with glue or staples. Add some dimension to the project by matting a photo onto a coordinating piece of cardstock. Glue the whole thing to the background paper.

Using a hot glue gun, attach a few seashells to the bottom, then glue a big flower in the upper corner.

Add hardware to the back for hanging, or attach a couple of felt pieces to the bottom so it can sit on a table.

Looking for more projects? See Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas.