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Looking to redecorate your home? Crafting for the holidays? Need a fun idea to do with the kids? We have craft ideas for all occasions and experience levels! From simple home decor projects to personalized giftable items, we are sure you will find projects that inspire. Be sure and share any projects you do with our products using #decoartprojects for a chance to be featured.

Shabby Vintage Shadowbox

By: Bumblebees and Butterflies
October 18, 2016

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Shabby Vintage Shadowbox
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I love shadow boxes and the 3D effects you can achieve when embellishing them so I thought I would try my hand at designing my own. Using just greyboard and my simple template you can make up a very sturdy box and by giving it a ‘false’ bottom you can make it as dimensional as you want. When you look at the photos below I could have used a depth of 1.5 cm or 2.5 cm for my project (I actually used the 1.5 cm) and because you are making it yourself you can vary the depth to whatever you want.

I also love mixing my own custom colours from the fluid acrylics and have included a colour mixing grid to show you how I achieved them.

Items needed:

  • Americana Decou-Page (Glue-Sealer-Finish) 8oz - Americana Decou-Page Matte
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Dark Grey Value 3
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Prussian Blue Hue
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Raw Umber
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Sap Green
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titan Buff
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Titanium White
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Modeling Paste - White
  • DecoArt Media Mediums and Specialty Products - Texture Sand Paste
  • DecoArt Media Varnishes - Ultra-Matte Varnish
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Medium Grey Value 6
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics - Green Gold
  • Assorted Brushes
  • Cream Cardstock
  • Patterned Tissue Paper
  • Sizzix Cameo Frame die
  • Resin plater and mould
  • Ornate border strip die
  • Assorted Embellishments


Cut two pieces of greyboard 18 x 4 cms and cut another two 13 1/2 x 4 cms to make up the sides.

Cut two more pieces 17 1/2 x 1 1/2 cms and another two 13 x 1 1/2 cms to provide the inside 'step' on which to place the base.

Use artist tape or another thin tape to hold the four sides of the box together, add one layer of tape on the top inside of the box as well as the whole of the outside, layering it if necessary.

Instruction #1 - Photo 147
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Adhere the four thin strips to the inside of the box on the bottom edge (these will form the ridges underneath for the background to sit on).


Instruction #2 - Photo 230
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When they are dry, place the base onto the strips to form the background of your box.

Instruction #3 - Photo 383
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Cover the outside and inner panels with tissue wrap and here you can see the dimensions of the base top and bottom.

Instruction #4 - Photo 488
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Usually I just have drops of paint on my craft mat and blend colours as I go along but there are times when I want a specific colour palette and I will do myself a colour mixing chart. Pinterest is a great place to find new palettes to use and then I create one of these. The soft weathered blue that just happened on the alabaster technique below was my starting point.

Instruction #5 - Photo 561
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Cut a piece of card to fit the base (the size will differ according to which depth you choose to use).

Cover it with tissue wrap to fit in with the sides of the box and then use modeling paste and stencils to add texture.

Choose your paints, mix the blends of colours one at a time and then spritz, drip and dribble them through the texture drying before you add the next colour.

Lightly brayer some white back over the texture.

Instruction #6 - Photo 673
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Whilst completing this step and having mixed each of the colours I finger painted some on the outside and inner lip of the box frame.

Instruction #7 - Photo 784
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Die-cut the frame from grey board and give it a coat of white gesso painting in all directions to get it as smooth as possible.

Instruction #8 - Photo 884
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Drag some texture sand paste over and dry.

Use a wet sea sponge with Titan Buff and medium grey V6 and sponge on random areas of both colours.

Mix three parts resin plaster with one part water and a little titan buff to colour it, pour on frame and drag over 90% of it pressing in with a palette knife and quickly add the smallest spot of prussian blue hue, a drop of the medium grey and a few drops of titanium white, mix together and also drag that across to create an alabaster background.

When dry, rub off any loose surface material and seal with ultra-matte varnish, which gets soaked up by the plaster very quickly. Repeat with a second coat when the first has dried out.

On a piece of card paint prussian blue and titan buff, dry it and then layer on a watery wash of prussian blue and dry.

Instruction #12 - Photo 988
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Die cut an ornate border, ink the edges with ground espresso and adhere to the sides with decou-page.

Instruction #13 - Photo 1050
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This is a free image from the internet, printed on photo paper and adhered to an mdf circle. I like to sand the edges and blend brown inks around it.

Instruction #14 - Photo 1199
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This is a resin cast from a mould, painted with the prussian blue and titan buff mixed together and when dry I spritzed it with water and dripped some titanium white over it. Again when dry I highlighted the raised parts by rubbing on some iced espresso Metallic Lustre.

Instruction #15 - Photo 1283
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These metal corners and handle were just spritzed with water with some titanium white dripped and dried. Again I highlighted with iced espresso Metallic Lustre.

Instruction #16 - Photo 1378
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The metallic book plate and nib were given dabs of titanium white, paynes grey and quinacridone gold in separate layers, drying between each and highlighted with champagne ice Metallic Lustre.

Instruction #17 - Photo 1465
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This is a number cut from card that had been embossed. I spritzed it with water, dribbled Paynes Grey and Prussian Blue over it. Once dry I blended titanium white over the raised areas using the back of a piece of cut and dry foam, dried it, then gave it a watery wash of quinacridone gold.

Instruction #18 - Photo 1570
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First glue the number onto the metal plate, then adhere it to the bottom of the cameo frame.

Instruction #19 - Photo 1638
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Glue to photo onto the frame and make sure both are dry before the next step. (otherwise they might move a fraction while you are gluing other pieces on - said with experience!).

Instruction #20 - Photo 1798
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Attach the mould to the top of the cameo frame.

When these three are all completely dry use foam pads behind the frame and the part of the mould that is sticking over the edge and fix to the back of the box. The foam pads add great dimension.

Use modeling paste behind the nib to attach it to the background.

Glue the corners on and again leave it all to dry.

Instruction #22 - Photo 1849
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Lastly, you can put the frame upright and glue the handle to the top.

Instruction #23 - Photo 1958
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Thanks for joining me today I hope you like the handmade shadow box and shabby vintage style.


Love this Brenda, with the different colour mixes and textures!

Sue Langston

October 18, 2016

OMG Brenda, this project has the complete WOW factor!!! Absolutely amazing in every single detail, - love, love, love it!!!


October 18, 2016

I am blown away! I absolutely love this. Great tutorial, I'll be back to study later today when I have more time. Thanks you SO much for sharing this. Beautiful!!

Cheryl Grigsby

October 18, 2016

WOW! So much info and so many techniques...but what a beautiful finished project :D XXX


October 18, 2016

Amazing, amazing, amazing, Brenda! Thank you so very much for the fabulous tutorial! I can't wait to start playing with the colors!

Susan Mostek

October 18, 2016

Brenda, your painted layers absolutely could transform anything! This is a genius and most beautiful creation.


October 18, 2016

Such a fantastic project ! Corrie x


October 18, 2016

Wow, yet again another inspiration project! I can't wait until the November workshops x

Jan Hill

October 18, 2016

Wow Brenda, I have just drooled over this amazing technique post. The results are such an exquisite vintage delight. Love this so much. Julie x

Julie Lavalette

October 18, 2016

Oh my goodness, your work is always so inspiring! This is beautiful!!


October 18, 2016

YOU are truly an INCREDIBLY creative artist Brenda. This is so unique and special. And those colors... just absolutely GORGEOUS. It is really amazing how the DecoArt Media paints can make billions of yummy colors. Yours are all just lovely. And what a SUPER shadow box. All around GREAT project. Thanks so much for sharing the great step by step. Xj.


October 18, 2016

Love this! You make it look so simple

Renee Zarate

October 18, 2016

Love the project, really a great piece of art to hang any time of year. Great colours and subject matter :)


October 18, 2016

Oh Brenda, what a beautiful 3D project with so many amazing details! How you painted the metallic and resin elements is so professional! xx

Monika Gulyas

October 19, 2016

You really are a special lady Brenda! This is am amazing piece of artwork! Can't wait for my class with you at ministry of mixology in November! Such a beautiful piece! Cx

Carol Findon

October 19, 2016



October 19, 2016

Brenda, this is fabulous! I love the shadow box you created as your base and the additional elements look amazing with the treatment you have given them - the number plate looks so aged! Beautiful work! Anne xx

Anne R

October 19, 2016

WOW !! LoVE it ! such an amazing shadow box Brenda! There are so many wonderful details using so many wonderful techniques that I shall be back again and again to have a look ! I have it pinned ! Such a creative talent to alter all those individual pieces and then combine them all into a wonderfully detailed design Beautiful work Brenda. Jennie x

Jennie Atkinson

October 19, 2016

Brenda! this is beyond Brilliant!! Absolutely stunning! I love each detail and your step outs are fab- thanks so much for sharing!!

Jackie PN

October 20, 2016

Fabulous project . Brenda Great design and masterfully created . Thanks so much for sharing your step by step and for the inspiration . x

Amanda P

October 23, 2016

Wow, this is so terrific Brenda. Love the colors and how you "grunged" up the metal. TFS your good ideas! xo

Barbara Rankin

October 25, 2016

Omgh. I Love all of it. Hugs Alexa


November 10, 2016

Thank you for taking time to teach us this technique. Construccion of the shadow box and the detailed desvription of how you added the fabulous colors. It’s truly amazing . Just love the result ! Thank you so much for sharing your talents !!! Hugs from Monica Spain


October 15, 2019

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