Are Shadow Boxes Trending?

November 29, 2006

Shadow boxes are making a bit of a comeback, at least at Anthropologie, where I spotted them gracing the walls yesterday in all their 3-D splendor. With roots in Victorian times (just like silhouette art), they can be a nice way to display cherished memories in your beautiful boudoir – giving guests a bit of a peek into who you are. I’m not big on the ornate, so I wouldn’t want to style my own box after these above because they look a little too dated for my taste (the exception being my favorite shown above, top right corner, with the 3 birds inside – that’s quite cute.)

Are Shadow Boxes Trending?

What drew me to these boxes yesterday is my own crazy hoarding issues, which is totally OCD, I know. I have a few shadow boxes that I’ve never touched, but have felt somewhat guilty over saving. They’ve been tucked away in tissue paper for a few years now. Maybe it would be a fun December project to stop saving them and put them to good use, huh? They are in modern uncomplicated wood frames, just like the birdy box shown above, with a white interior and a creamy burlap background. A little magnet keeps them closed. I have two. I just have to come up with a clever showpiece. That’s where I’m stuck.

What would you put inside a shadow box?

I’m leaning away from the traditional (ticket stubs, photos, lace, velvet ribbon) and considering a simple tree branch with a handmade paper bird resting on it. A branch created with pretty wrapping paper or a brightly colored blue road map, something like the Real Simple sections that Happy Mundane wrote about a few months back. (I loved that post, Jon!) Or maybe steer away totally from the map idea and go with something more personal, like a 3-D diary of sorts but that may clutter the box too much and I’d like to keep it simple. Maybe I could take 12 of my favorite little badges or pocket mirrors in bright colors and in a perfectly neat grid, pin or super glue them inside.

TIP: Go learn about the history of the shadow box. A fun read indeed!

Have any clever shadow box ideas? Have you ever used one in your decor?

(images from anthropologie)


  • Reply sandman_gr November 29, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    I have a shadow box that was given to me as a gift by a former colleague. It depicts a painter’s studio with an easel, lots of paint tubes, brushes etc. Looks lovely.
    I am going to try and make one myself of things that I canno find another place to show them…

  • Reply e.p. November 29, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    i love love love the idea about putting pins inside a shadow box on a neat grid. i have a couple shadow boxes lying around that didn’t work out for what i had in mind. i also have, scattered in random drawers and pockets throughout our house, tons of the little pins i assume you’re referencing. if you’re a band in the punk/indie rock scene, apparently it is a requirement to have these little pins to sell at your merch table. being that i used to do the merch for my husband’s band, i used to get lots and lots of these pins swapped or just given to me. what a wonderful way to display them without my messenger bags or coats looking like those of a 16-year old! thanks, holly!

  • Reply Jany November 29, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    I suggest putting nicely shaped pebbles ( found at the beach p.e ) in a shadowbox, leaving them in their bnatural color and maybe just paint one in a color to highlight it.

  • Reply kstyle November 29, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Posted awhile back on the gorgeous work of John dilnot. His owl and bird shadowboxes are amazing. k

  • Reply decor8 November 29, 2006 at 4:01 pm

    thanks kstyle – I have to check him out.

    jany – how high would you fill the box? 1/3 or?

    ep – i’m glad you’re wheels are turning now to – maybe together, we can figure out a good way to use our shadow boxes without resorting to antique ladies and vintage photos. :)

    sandman pr – that sounds very cool actually. i like that idea.

  • Reply Deidre November 29, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    I hung two small shadow boxes filled with matches from restaurants and bars above my kitchen sink. Everytime I go to a new place, especially when I’m on vaca, I look to see if the place has personalized matches. They’re nice little (and free) souvenirs from my travels.

  • Reply Tonia Conger November 30, 2006 at 12:38 am

    I saw a cute one on DIY TV. The person used an old black and white photo of their sister as a baby and pasted her sitting on a drawing of a flying pig. It was really wimsical and silly looking…but I liked it.
    I’m the same way, I have shadow boxes with intentions of doing something really great with them…someday.

  • Reply Jany November 30, 2006 at 8:57 am

    i was thinking of either glueing the pebbles to the back ( maybe with some sand ), but filling the box 1/3 can be nice, too.
    I’ve tried before to glue sand but it’s not evident at all, a question of finding the right glue.

  • Reply sandman_gr November 30, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    For sand trying using the white glue used for furniture & wood – atlacol here in Greece, don’t know how it is called in other countries…

    I will post a pic of the shadowbox-artist studio in my blog to give you ideas.

  • Reply Jany November 30, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    Thanks Sandman!
    I’ll try with the white wood-glue. I’ve just had look on your blog but the photos weren’t up yet, i’ll check back later.

  • Reply decor8 December 4, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    deidre – what a great idea.
    your comment got me thinking about other small things that could be easily tacked up inside of a shadow box. the possibilities are endless – but your idea is great because it is so very personal, combining the experiences of a great vacation along with the fun graphics so often found on a matchbook.

  • Reply mcewen December 5, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    In my humble opinion, I wouldn’t describe that as OCD, more creative, artistic and thrifty. Don’t worry it will stand you in good stead.
    BEst wishes

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