Add a Touch of Nature: Display Plant Cuttings in Shadow Boxes

What You'll Need
Plant cuttings
Clear acrylic spray
Permanent ink marker or calligraphy pen
Plexiglas box frames
Heavy weight watercolor paper
Glue gun
Matt board
Razor or X-Acto knife
Adhesive picture hanger

A shadow box isn't a new idea, but the contents of the box can be. Bringing nature inside can be a great way to add whimsy, uniqueness and greenery to a room. You don't have to be particularly "crafty" or artsy to create this shadowbox, either. Buy the materials at any craft store. Assembly takes only an hour or so.

Step 1 - Find and Cut Plants for Your Shadowbox

If you have a yard you can find all kinds of colorful and interesting plants to take clippings from. Look for leaves with unusual colorings, or stems, twigs and plants with interesting shapes. Curly willow is a very unusual plant, corkscrewing into interesting shapes with long, narrow leaves. If you don't have a yard, go for a walk, taking your scissors with you and clipping plants along your walk. Weeds and flowers you buy at a nursery or in your local grocer will also work.

Step 2 - Seal the Plants with Clear Acrylic

Hang your plants upside-down from a clothes hanger or other method for 2 or 3 days to allow them to dry. Hanging the plants upside down will help them retain their color. Once the plants have had a chance to dry, spray them lightly, thoroughly coating them with the clear acrylic spray. Allow to dry. You may need to spray a couple of coats.

Step 3 - Cut Mat Board

Measure your Plexiglas box and the width and height of the box's sides. Subtract ¼-inch from the total of the top to bottom, and from the side-to-side measurement. Cut the mat board to size. Center the box in the middle of the mat board and cut 45-degree slits from each corner of the mat board to the corner of the box. Score lines from the bottom of each cut to the corner of the next cut so the matt board folds and fits inside the Plexiglas box.

Step 4 - Secure Plants to Watercolor Paper

Using your hot glue gun, secure the plant from the back side of the leaves and stem to the watercolor paper at an angle on the paper. If the plant is larger than the paper, cut it down. You can also use one or more leaves glued separately around the paper if you like. Use dots of glue. You don't have to glue the length of the plant - just enough to mount it to the paper. Tear another strip of watercolor paper about  ¾-inch wide by 3 inches long. Write the scientific name of the plant on this strip using a calligraphy pen. Secure the strip of paper to the larger paper.

Step 5 - Assemble Your Shadow Box

Once the plant, label and watercolor paper are secured to the mat board, insert the mat board into the Plexiglas box and add the lid. Attach a glue on hanger to the back of the box and hang.