Make A Travel Shadow Box with Graphic 45 Artisan Style!

I’ve been doing a lot of travel this year for work that has taken me to new places. The result has been (virtual) stacks of photos that I really want to do something with to remember all of the exciting places that I have been. Albums are great, but sometimes it is nice to have the memories out where you can enjoy them everyday. I decided to make a home for some of my favorite San Francisco memories in a Graphic 45 shadow box!

Shadow Box Graphic 45 Artisan Style

As soon as I saw the recent Graphic 45 Artisan Style collection, I just knew it was perfect for my San Francisco photos. I had taken some Instagram photos I was especially proud of on the trip. The vintage filters and warm colors in the photos matched beautifully with the Artisan Style collection! 

Graphic 45 Artisan Style

The Graphic 45 Ivory Shadow Box is 10″ by 10″ in size, so the 12″ paper pad collection is plenty of paper for covering it.

I had my Instagrams printed at Persnickety Prints as press prints that came with white borders.

I wanted to build the shadow box around the photos, so I decided to start at the back (the photos’ background) and work out making my paper selections. I narrowed it down to two options for the background behind the photos: orange and cream.

The cream color definitely was tasteful and allowed the photos to dominate.

Shadowbox cream background

Ultimately, though, I settled on this orange text print paper. The warmth of it (versus the cool cream colored option) really played to the warm tones in the photos.

Shadowbox orange background

To keep it from getting too dark inside, I used the cream print for the side walls of the windows. The front is a brilliant floral that provides a touch of green that will coordinate with the pale green walls of my studio where it will be displayed. The fronts of the shelves were done in a black & white print. The smaller print worked better in that area than the large floral. The sides (on the outside) were done in a black text print.

Travel Shadow Box
Travel Shadow Box


Starting at the bottom left, let’s take a closer look at each window.

This window was designed to showcase the die cast cable car that I bought in a shop on the San Francisco waterfront after we had ridden the cable car. In fact, that die cast cable car was the entire inspiration for this shadow box. As soon as I saw it on the shelf, I knew that I had to buy so I could build a shadow box around it! The only other thing in this niche is the Instagram press print that I left the white border on.

Model Cable Car

In the upper left, I crammed two prints into the niche by layering them. Using the Graphic 45 metal clothespin to hold the small print separates it from the bottom print visually, and also gives the niche some dimension. I rubbed some FolkArt Acrylic paint in Vintage White into the word “timeless” on the clothespin to make it pop.

Metal Clothespin

The upper right niche contains the only “snapshot” that I included in the box. It’s important for a couple of reasons. It shows the Golden Gate Bridge in the background (this is the closest that we got), and it also records my travel partner Anna Rose. We were in the San Francisco area together to work at a Scrapbook Expo for Cricut – she’s one of Cricut’s fabulous in-house designers. Check out the library of “Make It Now” projects in Cricut Design Space to find her work!

Speaking of Cricut…I made the label for this niche on my Cricut Explore! It’s a label cut file with the “San Francisco” text added on top with a Cricut font in black pen. It was so quick and easy, and the perfect way to label the box’s location!

Cricut label

The final niche, on the lower right, contains my favorite picture that I took of a cable car. Because the photo took up so much of the area and I didn’t want to block it, the only embellishment is the small chipboard piece from the Graphic 45 Artisan Style collection. Because of the shape and position, it almost looks like a decorative thumbtack holding the photo in place.

Cable Car Photo

One of the reasons that this is my favorite photos is that there is an advertisement for the Ghirardelli’s factory on the side – but if you look real closely at the window above the ad, the iconic sign that is on the top of the factory building is reflected in the window! I wish I could claim that I did this on purpose, but it was a happy accident.

Photo Window Reflection

Looking closely at the bottom of the shadow box, some of the paint techniques I used are visible. All of the edges were dry brushed with the FolkArt Vintage White color to give them a distressed look (and hide the paper seams a bit). Less obvious is the paint work on the wooden feet. They were first painted with a black high gloss acrylic by Martha Stewart Crafts, and then (after it was dry) the FolkArt Vintage White was wiped on top of it with baby wipes to knock it back a bit so it wasn’t so glaring next to the black paper. A little of the Vintage White got stuck in the crevices of the wood, which worked nicely with the black and cream paper print.

The feet are wood pieces by Plaid, attached with a hot glue gun.

Shadowbox Feet

A few things aren’t obvious on first glance when examining the shadow box, but do affect the final look:

  • To avoid having white “raw” edges, I used a black ink pad to ink the edges of the photos to give them a drop shadow effect.
  • I cut the paper pieces as close as possible to measurement, and then used my Tim Holtz sanding block to trim them flush to the edges.
  • It was hard to get the feet precisely level applying them with hot glue. I used a skim coat of Ranger Glossy Accents on the bottom of one of them to level it when it ended up a hair shorter than the others because it was attached with less glue.
Travel Shadow Box

Would you like to get your vacation memories out where you can see them? A shadow box may be the answer!

[Some products used in this project were supplied to Nally Studios by Graphic 45 as editorial samples. This author has a professional affiliation with Cricut, however that relationship’s obligations do not include writing blog posts or posting projects. Some links in this post are affiliate links that support this website through commissions on purchases.]

The following two tabs change content below.

, ,

7 Responses to Make A Travel Shadow Box with Graphic 45 Artisan Style!

  1. Avatar
    Gab June 10, 2015 at 5:12 am #

    Looks great Nancy

  2. Avatar
    Kenny June 10, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    Beautiful work, as usual, and a great idea to keep your memories of the trip fresh. Thanks very much for all you do!

  3. Avatar
    Cindy deRosier June 10, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    It’s fantastic!

  4. Avatar
    Laurie Kearnes June 10, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    I really love your project! You did an amazing job matching the papers to the photos and also incorporated some great techniques in putting it all together – the dry brush painting, the feet, etc. It’s really unique! I just recently took a trip to SF, also, and I don’t have as great of photos as you, but it sure was a great trip!

  5. Avatar
    Tammy June 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Awesome project Nancy! Love the added memorabilia and trinket. Turned out fab! 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Maria June 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    Love the project. You have a great sense of patterns and putting them together to work so beautifully.

  7. Avatar
    Faith Gaspar July 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    Oh Nancy, this is Wonderful!!!! I’ve got to get some of my photos into a Shadow Box… Thanks for the Inspiration….