Why Create a Shadow Box
The main reason that I made a shadow box was to keep the hospital mementos out for display. I did not want these items shoved in a box in the attic. I enjoy being reminded of the days my life changed forever. Visitors also love to look at them and often comment on how they wish they could've saved these items from their kids. It is not hard to create a shadow box, and if done correctly, it could last for years.
Supplies for Making a Shadow Box
Here are a list of supplies you will need to create a beautiful shadow box.
- Shadow box - these can be found at your local craft store or online. Both of the boxes pictured have a glass front. If you do not want glass you can have an open front, or a clear plastic cover. Size is completely your preference. The boxes pictured are 12"x12" and I wouldn't go any larger as they are heavy to hang.
- Glue, tape runner, or your favorite adhesive. You will want something that is strong and archival quality.
- Camera to take a picture of the layout of the items before you glue. Then if you get interrupted (ie: baby wakes up) you don't lose the design.
- Embellishments: these can be sparkles, glitter, stickers, and designed paper. My boxes are very limited in the extra embellishments as I didn't have that much space.
- Permanent marker
- Hospital mementos: a detailed list is provided later on where to find these and how to preserve them.
- Patience: you do not want to rush through making these items as they are intended to last for years.
Unassembled Shadow Box
When you are in the hospital you will want to save all of the documents you can. Here is a detailed list of the items I saved for my boxes. As each hospital has different items available to each patient some of these items may not be available to you. If you have an items that should be included on this list please comment below and I will add it for you.
- Hospital baby gown or shirt
- Hats - Our hospital supplied a hat when the baby was born and another one before they left to go home.
- Comb - As these are usually only provided if your child has hair you may not get one.
- Silver spoon
- Hospital bracelets or bands - I would save the baby bands and also the parents bands, too.
- Bassinet tags - These are the paper tags that say when the baby was born, weight, length and time of birth.
Shadow Box Layout and Assembly
After you have been home for a few days or weeks and baby has a routine, you can now begin your project.
- Set out all the supplies, shadow box, and mementos. Use a large table or floor for the most space.
- Take apart the shadow box and set aside the glass and framing.
- Place the backer board on the table and start laying out the items. Try to keep the heavier items on the bottom. Make sure to keep the box symmetrical as it helps the eye move about the project.
- If you have too many items you may be able to cut them down. Or you may have to determine what mementos are the most important.
- Once you have your tentative layout grab the frame of the box. Slide the box frame over the items. You may have to do some squeezing to make sure everything fits.
- Take a picture of the layout. Your picture should show all pieces. Double check you didn't miss an edge.
- Remove the items one by one. And set on the corresponding side.
- Add adhesive to the items as you place them in the box. Adjust the papers and tags so they can be read easily. Keep the layering in mind so that nothing is hidden unintentionally.
- Assemble shadow box over the backer. Secure the backer.
- Use the permanent marker to write your baby's name on the box. This is optional, but when making multiple boxes it helps keeps them organized.
- Enjoy your completed shadow box display.
Sturdy Cardboard Backing
Layout Items Before Gluing
Shadow Box Detailed View
Final Notes on Displaying your Shadow Box
You can hang your shadow box on the wall, however you will want to anchor it. My boxes fell off the wall twice.
Our boxes are displayed on our mantel. This is the most visited area of our home by guests.
These boxes are versatile and can match decor in any room. Please comment on any additional design or display ideas.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.