Shadow Box for a Veteran
This week I made a shadow box for a friend commemorating her husband’s years in the Marines. I enjoy making these and thinking about how to best take an empty box frame, a plastic baggie full of mementos and a few pictures and honor the meaning and emotion attached to them with whatever is in my stash (for the most part). My rule for doing boxes for others is that they have to like it. They do pay me, but I won’t take it on unless the person allows me do whatever I want with their precious possessions. There is no approval process–I have enough of that in my real work. Oddly enough, they still want me to do it.
This is the finished box.
Some shadow box frames are easier to work with than others. My friend chose a box the loads easily from the back. This type of box will make composing your piece much easier, but you will have to pay close attention to the orientation of the hangers on the back. It’s easy to get turned around while you are playing with the stuff, put the whole thing together upside down and have to buy a new hanger for your masterpiece. This box came with a black burlap style backing. I wanted it to be more special looking so I covered it with a square of velvet I found with the fat quarters at Wal-Mart. My Wal-Mart has no real fabric section so I was extra pleased to spy the treasure. It is adhered on the back with Scor Tape (great stuff).
Set apart those most prized elements. You can’t always fit everything in–so be sure to ask what must be in it and, of that, what is the most important thing. The Marine’s photo is matted with his most valuable possession–his honorable discharge pin. The edges are punched with a deco-edge Crop-o-dile to set it off even more. The mat has a slightly smaller piece of cardboard backing it, both to lift it and to give me a place to use T-pins to attach it to the velvet backing.
Shadow boxes are all about dimension–”lifts and levels” as famed interior designer Christopher Lowell proclaims. This box has items lifted with cardboard backing, a small easel on pink foam insulation backing, layered paper and the dimension of the flag fabric.
Contrast was needed to show off his pins. I had a small easel and plenty of acrylic paints and Distress Ink so that became the base. There were two other photos and some newspaper articles as well. This Marine served in Okinawa so I took a photo of one my globes to show the area. Then scanned and re-sized his photos and melded the three in Photoshop, printed them on standard inkjet paper and blended the whole pile together with Mod Podge. I used EK Success alphabet stickers to add the Marine motto, “semper fidelis.” The newspaper articles were scanned and I printed enlarged copies and used Mod Podge to add them randomly to a banner. The only thing I was careful to show was the word Okinawa, which hits just under the canvas. This strip gave good contrast for his ribbons. His Vietnam coin is attached with dimensional foam tape.
The foam backed easel is attached to the velvet with Glossy Accents. Not only is it nice for shiny accents on cards–it’s a serious adhesive. His marksman medals are pushed into the foam backing using their pin backs and anchored with a small piece of foam tape.
These are the other boxes that I have made for friends.