Shadow Box: A Sophisticated Way to Display Shadow Box: A Sophisticated Way to Display

A shadow box is a versatile and personal way to display special items, limited only by your imagination. You can purchase a ready-made display case, or re-purpose almost any container that will hold the items collected and hang securely on your wall. You can use this technique to organize and display collectibles of your own, or create a one-of-a-kind gift full of precious memories.

Selecting the Shadow Box

Visit any hobby or craft shop, and you will have at least a few choices of ready-made shadow box display cases. Most will cover your precious objects with glass; if your display items are subject to deterioration from climate or dust, this may be a requirement. A store-bought shadow box is likely to be more expensive than a container you recycle or re-purpose. A small case is likely to cost at least $15, and the price range will go up into the hundreds for a very large or elaborate shadow box.

Home-made shadow box cases can be wicker baskets, cookie tins, old wooden picture frames, covered cardboard shoe boxes, old drawers and antique wood constructions. Antique typesetter cabinet drawers are highly prized for this purpose, due to the small dividers mounted within–perfect for displaying miniatures.

Gather Your Memories

The contents of your shadow box are very personal, and the options are infinite. You may have your own special memorabilia sitting on a table or shelf, or even stored away. You may have souvenirs of a trip, some of which don’t fit in a scrap book. You may have inherited jewelry and personal effects from a cherished friend or relative. These are all excellent candidates for your own shadow box. 

Gift options are even more wide-ranging.

  • Create a shadow box full of programs, photos and trinkets from a recent visit to your host as a thank you gift.
  • Arrange a display of invitations, dried flowers, centerpiece components, hair ribbons, wrapping paper and shower photos for a new bride.
  • Select special mementos for a couple’s Golden wedding anniversary.
  • Gather newspaper clippings, achievement awards, desk supplies and notable announcements for an office retirement gift.

Put it All Together

For assembling the contents in a store-bought shadow box, package directions will probably suffice, but if you are constructing the display yourself, plan the assembly carefully. Use the nature, size, shape and weight of your treasures to guide you.

For paper and lighter items, you have the greatest flexibility and range of options, since the paper can be glued, tied, wired or even stapled to the background. A covered styrofoam back may be ideal if you are mounting jewelry items, particularly pins. 

When using a wooden box for your case, you even have the option of screwing items in place through the wood. A wicker basket can allow the option of wiring your display items through the weave using florist wire.

Whatever technique and materials you select, options are infinite when it comes to using a shadow box to showcase your precious treasures.

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