You know I love to make 3-D stuff whether it is a little cardboard house or a shadow box or a pop-up card. I love 3-D projects. And I like to share my inspiration for my projects because I hope it helps inspire your own creative journey. There are 3 main inspirations that started me on this project:
- The current PaperArtsy challenge is Nautical Colors
- Jan Hobbins’ Waves and Bubbles Mini Configuration’s Book
- Ti’Bout Chloe Remiat, paper artist
So when I think of nautical colors, shades of blue come to mind. Those are the colors that speak to me when I think of the sea and that’s where this project started.
I knew I wanted to make a shadow box for the PaperArtsy challenge because the 3-D aspect appeals to me so much. The Tim Holtz stamp set “Sea Life” and the Tim Holtz “Sand and Sea” dies are perfect for this project. The other beautiful stamp I have that suits this project is a Butterfly Fish stamp from Designs by Ryn. These are the elements that provide interest in my shadow box. Nobody wants to look at boring objects; you have to have objects that compel people to look at them.
And whenever I think of shadow boxes I think of Chloe’s paper boxes. She makes these incredible shadow boxes that always stimulate your imagination.
Putting It All Together
So we’ve got the idea, now it’s time to put these elements together.
First, the box. Yes, you guessed it. It is a cat food box. Again. That’s what I have available. And it seems to be a good size for the decorative elements that will go inside.
I coat the entire box with gesso because it seals the box well, makes it much sturdier and helps paper adhere better.
Next, I love watercolor paper for backgrounds because it takes paint and ink so beautifully. The Ranger Distress Oxides colors are absolutely perfect to mimic the colors of the sea. Whenever I make a background like this I often make several samples because the inking process can vary so much, then I pick the one that looks most like what I am trying to achieve. I save the other samples for later projects.
This particular box size is about 11 inches wide so I need to make some extra papers for the sides which I made to look like kelp or seaweed. I used three different Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous stencils for this process. These will cover the sides of the box inside and out and make an interesting border to mimic seaweed.
The Interesting Elements to Your Shadow Box
Now, one of the fun parts of shadow box making is making it come alive with living elements, elements that command attention – the sea life.
Stamped Elements for the Shadow Box
The Butterfly fish, the fish in the background, the crab, the small seahorse and the lobster were stamped on watercolor paper and colored with Distress Oxides inks and a water brush. All of these had to be fussy cut after coloring.
Die Cut Elements for the Shadow Box
The fun objects at the base of the shadow box include 2 sand dollars and 2 starfish which were made from the Sand and Sea Sizzix die set from Tim Holtz. I followed Jan Hobbins directions to make the sand dollars look realistic – coating them with texture paste and sand, painting them with Antique Linen distress paint and edging them with Ground Espresso distress paint. I also borrowed ideas from her on making the Sea Horse as well, though realism wasn’t the goal in this case.
Placing Your Elements in the Shadow Box
I played around with the placement of the sand dollars and star fish. One set was placed behind the kelp on the right side of the shadow box. I really should have angled my kelp in the corner a little more and pulled the sand dollar out so that it stood out better. All of these elements were glued in place.
To provide interest to the sea floor, grit texture paste was applied then coated with Mod Podge and sand was sprinkled on top.
Suspend the Fish and the Seahorse
To suspend the Butterfly fish and the Seahorse, I followed the same plan as I did in the Hello Spring! word bubbles. I glued the thread between 2 layers of cardboard and when it was dry, I glued the colored fish and the painted seahorse to the front. I punched holes in the top of the box and inserted the thread through the holes. You have to play around a little bit to figure out the correct height for both of them. When you have them at the height you want, tape the thread on the top of the box, put glue on the top and bottom of the holes and let dry.
I patched the holes from suspending the fish and seahorse with Tim Holtz Idea-ology tissue paper. It is so easy to glue it down and smooth over the holes. And the best thing is that it lets the color below it show through. I love this stuff. You can see an example below where seaweed was stamped on tissue paper and adhered to the side.
Decorate the Outside of the Shadow Box
The leftover paper was glued to the outside of the box and I added a lobster to one side and a sand dollar to the other.
I thought I was finished, but I reconsidered and decided to make a frame for the shadow box.
The frame is simply painted cardboard glued to the edge, but I did coat the bottom edge with sand just like the base of the shadow box. And that’s it. Children, in particular, love these shadow boxes about as much as I love to make them. I hope you find some inspiration here.
We’ve gone step-by-step through the process of making an “Under the Sea” shadow box. Here are the general steps we’ve covered.
- Prepare the box
- Prepare the background
- Assemble interesting elements that are fun to look at
- Arrange the decorative elements within the shadow box
- Suspend the sea life so they can “swim”
- Frame the shadow box if desired
- Enjoy looking at your shadow box
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have a lovely, creative day.
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