Friday, 29 July 2011

Shadow Box for our Nephew’s Wedding–Part 1

Our nephew Ben is marrying his Estonian fiancée Maria on 20th August, and I am making a silver-lined shadow box for them, something along the lines of the Silver Wedding Shadow Box I made for my hubby for our 25th anniversary back in May. I bought two identical frames at that time and had it in mind to do something similar with the second one.

I have primed the box and frame with gesso, and lined the box with silver mirror board.

01 Frame with Gesso and Silver Lining

For the frame, I have decided not to do crackle glaze this time, but to create a different finish using textured gesso, acrylic paints and my new iridescent acrylic gel medium - I have done some experimental pieces first, on ATC-sized card, which can now be embellished and finalised as ATCs as the results were quite successful.

There will be an acetate sheet suspended half way up as before, and this is the monogram I have designed, to be printed on the acetate:

To create this, I first did a pencil drawing, which I then traced, and made a better copy which was completed with a permanent black marker pen, as a simple outline design. This was the first thing I scanned using my new Canon machine! When I had got the drawing onto the computer, I opened the image in Serif DrawPlus, created a new layer, and re-traced it digitally – the original drawing had several mistakes and unsteady lines etc., and this way, I was able to tidy it up properly. I then created yet another layer, got rid of the original scanned drawing, and added the colour fill, using a brush effect, and exported the whole thing as a png image, which is what you see above.

Unlike on my hubby’s frame, this printed design will not occupy the whole space, but will be reduced in size to go in the bottom right hand corner. The top left corner will be occupied by the iridescent butterfly I have made for the purpose. I am very pleased that the unpainted reverse of this butterfly, which has a beautiful finish, will not be hidden, because it will be reflected in the mirror board.

(You can see full details of that project here – and the two following posts on the same subject.) The flowers I intend making for this project will not be roses – I’ve done an awful lot of roses recently and I am anxious for a change! Before I got my cutting machine, I downloaded the pdf version of Penny Duncan’s hibiscus flower and made up quite a few of these:

11 Hibiscus Flowers Coloured

They took ages, as I had to print out the shapes and then cut them out by hand, but with Jiminy Cricut I shall be well away and have some more made in a jiffy, because I have used up most of these now, on projects such as this.

I have now painted the frame. The first stage was to add another layer of gesso, this time with a palette knife, and I stamped into it with rubber stamps. Unfortunately I don’t think the gesso was quite thick enough, because the impressions are not as obvious as on the test ATC piece, and I’m not so pleased with the results. Here is the frame with the first layer of acrylic paint in ultramarine.

02 Frame with Stamped Gesso and Blue Acrylic

After sealing it with some soft gloss gel medium, I added the cadmium yellow and Hooker’s green:

03 Frame with Yellow and Green Acrylic

I wasn’t happy with how it turned out – there was too much yellow, so I added more green, and then some more blue… It was becoming much less defined than the original test piece, and also quite dark, so I added a wash of titanium white with some GAC-100 acrylic polymer, and then finished up with a layer of iridescent gel medium.

04 Frame with Iridescent Gel Medium

05 Frame with Iridescent Gel Medium Detail

Frankly I’m a bit disappointed in the result; it looks too muddy, and the stamping isn’t obvious enough. I am going to apply some silver Treasure Gold when it arrives (I’ve got some on order) and this might pick out the shapes a bit better. Short of stripping it all off and starting again, I think I’m going to have to be content with what I’ve done because time is fairly limited, and there’s still quite a lot do do on this project. When the floral embellishments are on, it might look better.

I have not yet decided what to do with the mount; I’d like to continue the blue-green theme if possible, and maybe tie it in with the silver mirrored lining; I’ve been looking at a technique for painting foil with acrylics which looks very interesting, and I might do something like that; again I shall have to experiment first.

I do hate it when things don’t go exactly to plan, but this is a fairly new area for me, and it’s a lot of trial and error really. I just hope that when I’ve finished it, I think it’s good enough to give them, and that they like it!


  1. I am sure it will come out beautifully in the end... don't give up as so far it is looking good to me. A good tip I use when I'm not sure about an item I'm making is to stand back and look at it in a mirror. Things seem to look so different and I often see things I can adjust.
    It's being made with love so that's good. Good luck from JoZarty x

  2. Thanks for your helpful comment, JoZart! That's a good hint. Actually, looking at it again this morning I didn't dislike it quite so much! I think it will be OK in the end.

  3. Stunning so far, it will be beautiful when finished, love that butterfly well worth all the effort

  4. Shoshi, I have tried this once before - I have a personal question to ask you but can't find contact details anywhere on your blog. Can you please get in touch with me sometime (nothing serious :) )

  5. The butterfly is gorgeous...they are so blessed to have you making this for them! Don't worry too much about the frame. I'm predicting that when you touch those ridges with the gold, it's going to be just stunning. I think you're being a bit too hard on yourself!

  6. Cyndi - Thanks so much! I've now rubbed a bit of silver TreasureGold onto the frame and it's just made silver smudges on it!!! It's going to be redeemable though, with embellishments, and the mount is coming out fine. Will post soon about that! (Trouble is with me, I'm too much of a perfectionist... never satisfied!)


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