Friday, February 22, 2013

Making a Christmas shadow box

For the longest time now, I've been wanting to make a Christmas shadow box using vintage odds and ends.  I had seen the idea in Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 7, and loved the one they showed.  The directions were by necessity not super specific, because of course everyone's shadow box frame and bits of memorabilia will be different.

I wanted to use an old red wooden silverware tray as a shadow box frame.  This was my mother's and was used by me as a teenager when I had a little home baking business.  In recent years, nearly every time I opened the silverware drawer in my kitchen, I would be reminded of this project and how much I wanted to create one of these shadow boxes.  So recently, I got my materials together and set out to make one.  It took me a week or more, working on it in available snippets of time here and there.  I began by thoroughly cleaning and washing the tray.
Then I lined the compartments with scrapbook paper.  I had some I had bought years ago specifically for this project.  I thought the red plaid had a vintage look -- but oh, aren't those red and green prints amazing?  They look like scans of actual vintage fabric.  There are stains, worn places, etc.  Just the look I was going for!
Another look with the tray flat, just as I glued the paper in.  I used a glue gun for the entire project.
After lining the bottom of each compartment, I remembered something important.  One side of each compartment was going to become the shelf for the memorabilia.  So I needed to line those as well.
I started with the vertical side compartment.
The top shelf holds lots of memories.  When I was a child my grandmother had Santa mugs that the grandchildren were allowed to use at Christmas dinner.  The one here is a cheap plastic imitation, but looks much the same.  The folded cupcake paper (which I may or may not leave there) is from a stash of my grandmother's Christmas things.  The tag is from my daughter as a teen, and the ribbon roses are a reminder of her as well since she often called herself the "little rose girl".  (She loves roses!)  The red ribbon, plastic greenery, the bell, and the little red bird are vintage.  The cookie cutter shapes are new but I thought they went well with the other things.

The second shelf holds a box of vintage light bulbs, a vintage sticker tag and a vintage plastic Santa and sleigh. I stuck a little metal embellishment that says "Cherish" on the tag.  The little metal pieces don't show up well in the photo, but they look cute in the shadow box in person.
I was a bit at a loss trying to decide how to fill the longer vertical space at the side.  Finally decided to make a tag and hang it from a red thumbtack.  Picture is of me and my brother and a cousin in the snow.  The flocked Santa sticker, the plastic holly and the striped bias tape are all vintage.
The letter stickers and the word on the tag are newer items.  You can't really see the word but it says "family" and is a shiny silver color.  In retrospect I should have put the "memories" letters lower on the back wall.  It will be fine when the shadow box is hung on a wall, but is a bit hard to see in the photo.
Vintage plastic deer, light bulb and tinsel from one of our early Christmases together.
A closer look at the tag; Santa sticker, holly, berries and bias tape are vintage.
The lower end of the tall side compartment.  Vintage plastic greens, holly, and berries.  This was old stuff from my great aunt.  Tiny vintage glass Christmas balls, too.
Finished shadow box!
Hope you have enjoyed this look at the making of a Christmas shadow box!  Maybe you've been inspired to make one of your own!


  1. Anonymous9:41 PM

    Mrs. T - I know I left a comment at OHFTH but I just had to say again how enchanting I find this - love all the vintage bits and pieces and I think you have done a marvelous job with it!


  2. Les, thank you so much!!! I am thrilled that you find it enchanting. I had so much fun putting it together and, truth to tell, am pretty much enchanted with it myself. It came out just about like I was hoping.

    Thanks again so much for the sweet and encouraging comments!

  3. This looks like a fun project! I love this! :)

  4. It was such fun to make, Mrs. Smith! And, as you see, it could be done with any type of memorabilia, old or new or a combination, with the shabbier look such as I've gone for -- or a more glittery look -- really, it all depends upon your items and what you choose to use for a frame. Do you think you will try making one?

  5. What a lot of beautiful memories contained in one little box. I love family sentiment and this is priceless. It is also a great thing to make for each child to divvy up some family mementos! Lovely job.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed seeing the project, Kathy! It was so much fun to put together. Thank you for your visit and for your kind comments. Please come visit again anytime!

  6. What a amazing idea! never would have thought of that! I love shadow boxes they are so special. You have made a very unique holiday treasure. Maria/Bloggy fifty group

    1. Thanks, Maria! I had a wonderful time putting this together, and always look forward to bringing it out each year. I have it stored in a zip-top bag so it doesn't get dusty. It would be rather hard to clean, I think.

  7. How clever and adorable!


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