Keepsake Crafts: 3-D Shadow Box

Put memorable life events and celebrations on display with this easy 5-step craft.

By: Debra Steilen

Why hide mementos in a scrapbook? Instead, capture highlights from vacations, holidays and more with a shadow box that puts keepsakes on display. Place it within your own home or gift it to a loved one for a special occasion.

Mementos that support your theme (handwritten letters, maps, postcards, ticket stubs photographs, seashells, etc.)
Purchased or premade shadow box with hinged glass-front lid or slide-in glass panel
Paper (scrapbook paper or actual keepsakes, like a map or a variety of postcards)
Crafts glue or spray adhesive
Foam mounting circles or squares
Adhesive dots or hot-glue gun and glue sticks
Pins or tacks
Wood glue (optional)


  1. Gather mementos that support the theme. For example, collect seashells, sea glass, sand, postcards and trinkets from the boardwalk for a beach-themed box

Tip: If you are collecting mementos while on vacation, be sure to collect more than you think you’ll need since some of them might not survive the trip home.

  1. Open the front of the shadow box (or remove the slide-in glass panel) and measure the back panel
  2. Cut background paper to fit the back panel of the shadow box. Attach the trimmed background to the back of the box with craft glue or spray adhesive. Let dry

Tip: If you’re using a map to cover the back panel, you might need to enlarge the section you want to highlight on a colour printer before trimming it to fit.

  1. Place the shadow box on a horizontal surface where it can remain undisturbed while you work. Layer items against the background, rearranging until you are happy with the design. For attaching items to the background:
  • Pin, tack or glue lightweight pieces in place — working from back to front
  • Use the foam mounting shapes to attach pictures or other lightweight items at different heights for a 3-D effect
  • Use adhesive dots or hot glue to attach heavier items to the back panel or the bottom of the shadow box
  1. Shut the lid or slide the glass panel into place. Display by placing on the shelf or hanging on the wall

Tip: Want to add sand to the shadow box? After everything else is in place, tilt the hinged shadow box back slightly, open the lid and add sand to the bottom. If working with a slide-in glass panel rather than a hinged lid, simply remove the panel and add sand. Shut the lid or replace the glass panel, as needed. Run a narrow bead of wood glue along the shadow box seams to prevent sand from spilling out.


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