Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Silver Wedding Shadow Box

It is our Silver Wedding anniversary on 24th May, and I was at a loss to know what to get my hubby, that would be special enough to show how much I love and appreciate him, but which I could also afford! I searched the Internet and all I could find were things that seemed to be there just for the sake of buying, but which didn’t mean anything. I was getting desperate, and then my friend Wendy (I follow her blog, which you can see in my blog list) suggested I made some sort of plaque with something nice written on it – a friend of hers had given her husband something like that and he’d loved it – I thought this was a brilliant idea, and came up with the idea of making a shadow box.

I found a marvellous Ebay shop called Lord of the Mounts - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Lord-Of-The-Mounts?_trksid=p4340.l2563 – he makes loads of different shapes and sizes of frames, including a selection of box frames, with plain wooden surrounds that are crying out to be altered! I was very impressed not only with the speed of delivery (I ordered 2 one afternoon, and they were with me the next morning!) but also with the quality of the workmanship – they are beautifully finished – lovely quality.

1 Box Frame

I got 2 of these small box frames, 6 inches square, and quite deep, one for this project, and the other to make something similar for our nephew who is getting married later in the summer.

It seemed a shame to rub off all that nice varnish, but it was necessary if I was going to paint it!

2 Frame Rubbed Down

The next step was to line the inside of the box with silver mirror card. I originally planned on using Cuttlebug-embossed mirror card with the embossed part picked out in white, but my experiments proved very unsatisfactory, and even when I devised a way to make it work, I didn’t actually like the result in the end, so I just went for plain, unadorned mirror card, and this was the result:

3 Box Lined with Mirror Board 1

4 Box Lined with Mirror Board 2

You will see that I have constructed an inner part, also lined with silver mirror board. This is made up of two layers of mounting board, glued to the inside of the box, with narrow double-sided tape stuck to the top edge, to provide a platform on which to glue a square of acetate with some text printed on it.

5 Printed Acetate

I designed this in Serif PagePlus, my desktop publishing software. The words are a quote from the Bible, from the Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon). I printed it in dark blue on some inkjet acetate, which I then trimmed down to size.

The next picture shows it resting on its distance piece, about half way up from the bottom of the box, so that the back of the acetate reflects on the silver on the bottom of the box.

6 Mock-up - Acetate in Box

I was in two minds whether to use the mount that came with the frame, as it is quite wide in proportion to the size of the box, and I didn’t want too much of the width of the box to be obscured, but in the end, I decided to use it, as the inside did seem to be visible enough. I created an embossing design in Serif DrawPlus (my vector drawing program):

Floral Embossed Square Frame

This has now been uploaded to my Microsoft OneDrive (see the left-hand side of my blog for details on my free cut files). Using Make The Cut software and my Cricut Expression, I embossed a piece of silver metal with this design:

7 Embossed Silver Mount

I filled the embossed part of the back of this with Pinflair glue to help prevent the design being squashed from the front, and glued it onto the glass from the frame, cutting a narrow strip of silver mirror board which I glued with Pinflair glue to neaten the edge where the metal met the glass. Here is a mock-up of it on the box with the acetate “floating” in the middle:

8 Mock-up - Mount on Box

You can see that the cream-coloured card of the original mount is reflected in the silver on the bottom of the box, which I didn’t like, so I cut another shape in silver mirror card which I glued underneath my metal mount, and this reduces the reflection considerably, as you will see on later pictures. The double-sided tape on the edge of the acetate distance piece also caused a reflection, and I got rid of this by sticking some narrow silver tape around the top edge of the acetate before gluing it down. This is a mock-up of the work so far, with the stripped frame in place over the mount.

10 Mock-up with Unpainted Frame

This is a detail of the embossed metal mount:

9 Embossed Mount Detail[3]

showing the silver mirror card edging glued on.

I then moved on to a major part of the project that took quite a long time: the painting of the frame and box, which needed various coats. First of all, I painted the box and frame with two coats of gesso, as a primer.

11 Frame and Box Primed with Gesso

I wanted a crackle-effect finish with silver under a pale grey top coat, but was not sure if this would work, so had to do a bit of experimenting first. Many years ago I bought several packets of bronzing powder when I was doing some work with Fimo modelling clay, and I still had this, virtually unused. Unlike Perfect Pearls and many mica powders on the market today, it has no binding agent in it, so needs to be mixed with something. It is very fine indeed, and as soon as you open the packet, it flies about and gets into everything, so it needs handling with care; you also have to wear a mask while using it, because it could be hazardous if inhaled. Worth the trouble, though, because the results are fantastic! I mixed a little with some acrylic gel medium and painted the frame with this; it went on extremely well, and after two coats, I had a surface onto which to apply the crackle glaze.

12 Frame Painted Silver Awaiting Crackle Glaze

I have also had this crackle glaze for a number of years, having purchased it when doing some house decorating. Buying it this way is a lot more economical than buying the small quantities supplied by many craft materials manufacturers, and it does the job just as well. After experimenting, I’ve discovered it goes on best with the foam brush, as does the top coat – the secret to getting good sized cracks is to paint both the crackle glaze and top coat quite thickly but without drips, in one direction only, and not to over-brush, and the foam brush does this very well, which this mock-up shows:

14 Frame Painted with Crackle Glaze and Emulsion

As a final touch, I painted the inside edge of the frame where it meets the embossing, with dark blue acrylic paint to continue with the blue and silver theme. I didn’t bother to paint the back of the frame or the box with the silver and crackle glaze, but simply used two coats of the very pale grey emulsion top coat.

13 Box Painted with Emulsion

I was then ready to move on to making the embellishments and attaching them. My theme being silver and dark blue, I found some lovely quality dark blue card on Ebay, from which I cut some of Penny Duncan’s rose design shapes, and made them up – she has a video tutorial on her blog about this if anyone is interested. I have made these roses on several occasions and they look marvellous, belying the simplicity of their construction – it’s a very clever design and I’m very grateful to Penny for her generosity in sharing her designs freely with anyone who wants to use them.

I made them up in several sizes; to make smaller ones I just left out one or two of the layers. Of course, you can make the cut files whatever size you want, so you are not limited.

15 Blue and Silver Roses

Before making them up, I painted the edges of all the pieces with Perfect Pearls in the Perfect Pearl colour – this looks like white powder in the pot, but comes out silver when mixed with water.

16 Blue and Silver Roses Detail

I then cut some of Penny’s leaf shapes for the large leaves, and some leaf trails from my own designs – these are also available on my OneDrive.

17 Silver Leaves

These were cut from some dull silver card, and the larger leaves I embossed by hand.

The final stage of the project was to attach these embellishments and assemble the box. I put leaves and roses on the bottom of the box, on the acetate, and on the frame. I am very pleased with how they are reflected in the silver card on the bottom of the box, giving the impression that there are more embellishments than there actually are.

18 The Finished Project 1

The flat leaf trails were stuck down with Pinflair photo glue, which I have a love-hate relationship with! It’s really messy and gloopy to use, and it smells awful, and half the time it doesn’t stick properly first time, but eventually it does, and then it sticks well, and the major advantage is that when it is dry, you simply rub the messy excess away with your finger, and it leaves absolutely no trace!

The large leaves and the roses were attached with glue from the hot glue gun, which I definitely have a love relationship with – no hate here - it’s an awesome tool – the glue is extremely strong, and you can stick down non-flat things like flowers (and use it to construct the flowers, too) – it dries very quickly, and I also really like the smell of it! (Ooooooh! Is Shoshi hiiiiigh???)

I could not use it to stick the roses onto the acetate sheet, of course, because the heat of the glue would have melted the acetate, but my other favourite glue came into play there – regular Pinflair glue which is lovely and dimensional and can be used for things that you would use the hot glue for, but it takes longer to dry.

Here are some further views of the finished project.

19 The Finished Project 2

20 Top LH Corner Detail

21 Bottom RH Corner Detail

22 Top RH Corner Detail

23 Detail of Centre 1

Although this is called a “shadow” box, I think I’d rather call it a “light” box, because the silver lining causes the light to bounce around inside the box, and it seems to have a radiance of its own.

I have made a five-part video of the making of this project from start to finish. As it celebrates 25 years since we were married, and it has been making me think a great deal of that wonderful day so long ago, I have incorporated some of our wedding photos into the video (with a layout I created in Serif CraftArtist digital scrapbooking software) and also used the organ music we had at our wedding – my hubby chose the Purcell Trumpet Tune for my entry with my dad, but I chose the rest of it – all Bach (my first love!) and it was all beautifully played by an old friend of the family, now sadly deceased. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, as well as seeing this project growing from start to finish.


  1. Wow! is all I can say - hope others will say that too. Wonderful! You may get commissions! and congratulations!

  2. WOW WOW WOW Shoshi.
    I might have given you the idea, but you made it stunning.
    It so beautiful, well done.
    He is going to looooove it so much.
    Get the camera ready for when you give it to him.
    I see another scrapbook layout in the making, so nice to add to the wedding ones
    Well done You

  3. Wow Wow Wow!!! Our Lord has really given you a wonderful gift to share with everyone. God blessings to you my friend. Lloyd

  4. Oh my word Shoshi, you artwork has come on in leaps and bounds since I last popped in. I am SERIOUSLY impressed, well done you, and all the best to you both for the 24th, congratulations.
    I too have neglected my blog, badly, so it was really inspiring to see that you'd paid me a visit. I confess that I am a little bored of making cards now, but am still doing them to order. I seem to have so many other things going on at the moment.
    I wish I could see your Husbands face when you present it to him, he is going to be blown away!
    Take care of yourself

  5. Oh my gosh, Shoshi - this is totally stunning and awesome and wonderful and fabulous and ... you get the picture! I am flabbergasted. :)

  6. Shoshi,
    What a wonderful gift you made...it's stunning. I love it!!!


  7. Hi there, just popped over as you suggested, it is a beautiful project! Song of Songs is one of my wife's favourite books so I often use it in projects for her too. Hope you have a fab day.


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