How To Create Inexpensive and Meaningful Art Using Shadow Boxes

A room is only complete once there is art on the walls. Homeowners may find this to be the hardest part of ‘finishing a room’. They want wait until the right piece of art ‘speaks to them’. Others know that art can be quite expensive and are apprehensive at the idea of spending too much. Either way, art can be created quite easily and can often have more meaning than anything you can purchase.

Affordable shadow boxes can be purchased at Ikea in black and white. They come in small and large sizes. The key is to purchase a number of them and create a series. You can fill them with antique silverware, old toys, pieces of a quilt your little one used to cuddle … the sky is the limit!

Step 1


Choose something that you want to see every day and that means something to you. Make sure you have several different pieces to create a series of ‘similar’ shadow boxes either in a row or another configuration that looks appealing. This works well with heirloom silverware, old toys, leaves from the garden (these can be spray-painted to preserve them) or a collection of pictures. It can also look great with interesting pieces of scrapbook paper from a local craft store.

Step 2

Get everything you are going to need ready and within reach. We used

  • Silverware
  • A paper cutter to create straight edges
  • Craft paper for the background
  • A pencil and eraser
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • And the shadowboxes, dissembled


Steps 3 & 4

Use the matting to trace the size of the frame on the craft paper. This will ensure the paper is the right size to fill the frame. If you have one, use a paper cutter to guarantee crisp edges. If not, you can use scissors and make sure you cut straight lines.


Step 5

Use a hot glue gun on the corners of the craft paper and attach it to the matting. This will ensure the background paper is strong enough to hold whatever you want to glue on it. Just use the glue around all four edges and firmly press down onto the cardboard.


Step 6

Carefully mark where you want each object on the paper. If it is one item, make sure it is centered. It you are using multiple items in a grouping, make sure they are all spaced equally, and grouping is centered. Once each item is marked with a pencil, then glue them on where the marking is.


Step 7

Once you have secured all the items onto the craft paper, carefully re-assemble the shadow box and … tada! You have personalized art!

Remember the shadow boxes below were not meant to be hung together, but rather in a grouping with other shadowboxes containing similar objects. As mentioned above, this can also be done using only craft paper as well. If you are only using craft paper, it can also be created with frames you may already own.