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How to Mod Podge a Travel Shadow Box!

You take that vacation of a lifetime, take thousands of wonderful pictures, and then come back home to the real world. You dive into the hustle and bustle of real life, and those wonderful memories stay hidden away on your computer hard drive, only to be seen when they pop up randomly on your computer’s screen saver.

[Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Plaid, the maker of Mod Podge, but all opinions expressed are my own.]

It happens to all of us, right?

In January, I got the opportunity to do something that I’ve dreamed of for decades – go to Paris! I’d longed to go back as an adult and truly appreciate it, having been when I was in grade school and lacked appreciation for the city’s art treasures and history. I came home from my two days in the city with several thousand pictures, and a determination that they would not waste away in dusty obscurity in the nether regions of my computer.

Part one of that process is creating a shadow box of my trip, with a few highlight photos from those two days. But for a trip this special, it couldn’t be just any shadow box. So, with some help from Mod Podge, I turned a plain white shadow box into a fabulous custom piece that lives up to my vision of housing memories from my trip.

Paris Shadowbox with Mod Podge

Supplies Needed:

This shadow box started with a simple – and very modern style – white shadow box that I purchased for less than $10 at a craft chain store. It was the perfect size for the project I had in mind with my Paris pictures, but far from the right style. But a little Mod Podge and artisan paper I purchased from etsy fixed that right up!

White Shadowbox

The shadow box has a soft fabric covered back in it that is designed to be used with thumb tacks or pins to attach photos and memorabilia. I opted not to use that and instead I cut a 9×9 piece of my craft paper to use as a background. I did this first thing when I started working on this project, to make sure that I could cut it from exactly the area of pattern of the paper that I wanted.

Before beginning to work on my travel shadow box project, I took apart the shadow box completely, the same as if I was putting new contents into it, and then also removed the glass. This meant that I could work without having to worry about breaking the glass, or smudging or gluing it.

The paper I used for this decoupage project, from etsy artisan artanlei is a very heavy paper, more like a heavy gift wrap than the tissue weight that is typically sold as decoupage paper. This weight to the paper is important to being able to easily fit the fit these relatively complex pieces for the frame – creases hold where you put them and the paper holds up well to being handled and marked with pencil for cut lines. Choose your paper carefully to ensure success (and fewer headaches) on a project like this!

Using a ruler, scissors, a pencil, and other tools, I dry fitted pieces to cover the four sides of the frame.(Notice how the pieces are holding the creases for the frame’s corners? Those nice creases made it super easy to fit the pieces once I starting gluing!) My pieces wrap from the front of the frame, around the side, and onto the back.

Paris Shadowbox Decoupage Paper

To glue down my paper pieces to my shadow box, I reached for most crafters’ go-to for decoupage: Mod Podge Matte. It goes on smooth, and it dries fast – but not so fast that I can’t adjust the placement of pieces as I put them on. And most importantly, it dries clear and matte, meaning that it wouldn’t leave behind tell-tale shiny spots from accidental glue smudges and smears on my paper.

Since there wasn’t enough time for my brushes to dry between cleanings in doing my gluing steps, I chose to use foam brushes for this instead of my much-loved Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes. (Note to self: Get more decoupage brushes!)

Mod Podge Matte

I glued down the pieces for the sides of my box first, by putting Mod Podge on the box surface and the paper surface. I pressed the paper into place, starting by lining up the edge of the paper along the edge on the front by the glass and smoothing it towards the first crease, bending around the corner to the sides of the box and then finally to the back edge.  To make sure that I got nice smooth adhesion, I used a brayer to roll the pieces as I pressed them on each surface.

Tip: Be sure to get your Mod Podge all the way to the edges of the paper so that you won’t have to go back and tack down edges later!

Notice how the corners of these pieces are square, even though the finished front will appear that the paper pieces have angled corners? By leaving the pieces square on the first pieces that I laid down, I didn’t have to worry about cutting two angled pieces for each corner and making them match perfectly. I could just lay the second, angled piece, over the first piece and it would create the illusion of beautifully mitred corners!

Paris Shadowbox in progress

Once the glue was dry on the first pieces that I had glued down, then I repeated the decoupage process with the pieces for the bottom and top of the shadowbox. See my nice “mitred” corner?

Notice the nice placement of that phrase along the top, and how on the sides the text is going the same direction as on the top and bottom? That’s no accident! I carefully chose the areas of the paper that I cut each piece from so that it would create the look that I wanted for my box. The “de la Republique francaise” – which translates to “of the French Republic” – seemed the perfect title for the top of my box! The positioning of the graphic elements in the bottom right corner of the box was also deliberate as well.

Paris Shadowbox in progress

Here’s a close-up look at how my corners look with the overlap that creates the mitred look.

Paris Shadowbox corner close-up

The paper extends onto the back of the shadowbox. I didn’t bother to mitre the corners on the backside. The extension of the paper to the rear of the box is simply to avoid rough or unmatched edges where the box will meet the wall. Instead, there is a nice fold, and the paper stops on the back.

Paris Shadowbox reverse

Once the box itself was done, then I turned to its contents. First I printed some of my photos from my trip as 2″ by 3″ photos, with a small border on them, and then adhered them to the background paper using Mod Podge Paper and the largest of the Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes.

Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes

Next, I wanted to embellish my box. There wasn’t a lot of room left to work with but the box needed a little something more than just my photos. I had a set of Graphic 45 Cityscapes stamps that have some small Paris themed designs in them, but how to make them dimensional? Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes to the rescue!

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes

I stamped several of the Cityscapes 2 images on natural colored cardstock with waterproof ink that is almost exactly the same color as part of the design on my decoupage paper that I bought from etsy. Then I used some of the smaller decoupage brushes to paint Mod Podge onto the back of some of the glass domes and pressed them onto place on top of the stamped designs. Once the Mod Podge was dry, I used a craft knife to cut around the edges of the glass domes to remove them from rest of the paper, and glued them in place (with more Mod Podge, of course) on the shadowbox’s photo layout.

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Dome

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes

I still needed a few more embellishments, though. See that Eiffel Tower in the close-up above? I just knew that I had to include it in this shadow box – and it’s Mod Podge too! It’s made from the Mod Melts system of colored meltable sticks that can be used in a hot glue gun or better yet a Mod Melter to fill silicone molds to create custom embellishments. For my Paris shadowbox project, of course, I just had to use the metallic pack that contained gold Mod Melts! I used several different Mod Melts molds for my shadowbox, including the Travel and Royal Icons pictured below.

When my Mod Melts were done, I adhered them to my shadowbox by using my Mod Melter like a hot glue gun, so the glue matched the objects that I was adhering.

Mod Melts

For the last touch, I wanted to put the title “PARIS” on my box. I used wooden letters and painted them with the new FolkArt Brushed Metal paint in Brushed Gold. The paint’s color and texture almost perfectly matches the Mod Melts that I made, as well as coordinating nicely with some of the highlight tones in the paper that I used. Once they were dry I attached them to the front of the box with Mod Podge Matte.

Paris Shadowbox embellishments

The last step was to reassemble the box and put the backer in it. I just laid the sheet of paper on top of the fabric back of the shadow box and it held fine when reassembled.
Paris Shadowbox

And now, for some exciting news! Tomorrow is Mod Podge’s 50th birthday! And to celebrate, Plaid will be doing an entire day of live streams, projects and giveaways starting at 10am eastern! Don’t miss it!

Oh, and if you love Mod Podge…be sure to stop by Craft Critique tomorrow as well…hint, hint! [Update: It’s a Giveaway!!!]

National Mod Podge Day

 

Project | Wall Canvas with Hazel & Ruby

My studio has a whole ton of stuff in it, but until now, very little that could be called decór. The room was all function, function, function. I’ve been wanting to change that for awhile, and I decided to start with a canvas for the wall!

Live Work Create CanvasHazel + Ruby has a new product line that looked like it makes creating a decoupage canvas idiot proof. Since I had only made a canvas once before in a class, I really put it to the test! Continue Reading →

Martha Stewart Crafts Decoupage Glue and Sealer vs ModPodge

I am a hardcore Mod Podge fan. I have used it since I first began to decoupage, and I have always been happy with the results I get from it; plus, I love the retro-style packaging!

I am also a semi-closeted Martha Stewart fan. I check out her blog from time to time and subscribe to both her daily recipe newsletter, and her fabulous healthy living magazine, Body and Soul.

We have different aesthetics, Martha and me, but I do acknowledge and respect her crafty genius.  So you can imagine my confusion and delight the day I made a wrong turn in my local Michaels store and stumbled into: Martha Land! I had no idea she had her own line of supplies.

Feeling guilty for betraying my beloved Mod Podge, I quickly snapped up a basic glue stick and the decoupage medium–and they have sat prettily on my craft table ever since, completely untouched–until now. I figured I’d give it a shot: Martha vs. Mod Podge. I decided to decoupage basic small-diameter wooden discs that will eventually become a pair of earrings, one in my usual way with Mod Podge and one with Martha’s product.CIMG9948

Most of the time I use small, cheap brushes (like the kind that comes in watercolors) I like the precision, control over detail and the fact that if I forget to rinse it afterwards it’s no big deal if it gets ruined. It is a tiny hassle to get up and rinse the brushes, however. For large surfaces I use a big foam brush. The fact that Martha’s medium comes with it’s own brush is a big perk.CIMG9925

I used Mod Podge on the first disc. It smells and looks like basic all-purpose white glue. I like that you can see immediately where you have applied it (though it dries clear). I like to “glue” down the fabric then apply a thin layer on top immediately to seal it all in.

Moving on to Martha: wow–the brush is huge. The medium is thinner than Mod Podge and clear. I assume it will dry shiny–it doesn’t.CIMG9931

I dripped the product all over the sides of the bottle because so much gets on not only the brush but the stem as well. I had wipe off the excess onto the lip of the lid then quicky do the same for the stem to avoid major dripping.

It was hard for me to see where I applied it because it was clear, which was a bummer. The fabric didn’t seem to lay smoothly and started to fray a bit at the edges, which has never happened to me before. It was hard to have much control over the brush and I ended up painting my fingers as well.CIMG9929

By this time the Mod Podge was dry and the disc was ready to get a coat of varnish. (I use Triple Thick) I like being able to tell that it is fabric underneath so sometimes I skip this step, but since this is jewelry I want it to be able to withstand a bit of rain if it has to.

Back on Martha’s end, it seems that the decoupage medium has soaked into the fabric. It looks gummy and very wet still. I start a new project while I wait.CIMG9936

About half an hour later Martha’s disc is all set. I applied a coat of varnish then noticed that the Triple Thick is dry on the first disc so I was able to turn it over and use Mod Podge to attach fabric to the back of it.

I was feeling like it wasn’t very fair to make up my mind after one use so I decided to start a second project, on a large disc. I figured the brush might come in handy on a bigger surface.

I applied the product to the disc then pressed down the fabric. This fabric is 100% cotton instead of jersey like the first project so I thought it would not soak through the way it did the first time.

I was wrong. I got a weird dark patch where it was being absorbed into the cotton. I was hesitant to apply a coat on top immediately because I wasn’t sure if it would ruin the piece.CIMG9944

I work with scraps, which I love. Not only for the eco-factor but also because it forces me to be more creative and use what I have. It also keeps me from making too many of the same thing, if I get stuck on a fabric I love. So I can’t take the chance of ruining a tiny scrap that I can’t replace.

At this point I see that the medium is not holding the fabric to the wood and it is peeling up. I recap Martha and set her back in her spot on my crafting table. I’ll redo this piece with Mod Podge (the saturated spot did dry clear luckily).CIMG9945

*The next day:

I let everything dry over night. The Martha decoupage medium still wasn’t dry and I couldn’t apply varnish and move forward with the construction of the earrings until it was. This morning I went to check on them, the Mod Podge disc was fine and ready to go, the Martha disc had strange puckers and dimples in the fabric.

Pros:

  • Nice packaging
  • Comes with a brush
  • Made by Martha!
  • Might be good for scrapbookers and other crafters using paper or something thinner than fabric in their work.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work at all for what I need it to do. Granted, they don’t list fabric as something that it will be compatible with but it does say “paper…and more” on the label which led me to believe it was a possibility.

Will I repurchase in the future? No. And if I had my receipt, I would be tempted to return it.

Price: for$3.99 for 4oz. (currently 30% off at my local Michaels store)

Label Info:

  • This two-in-one glue and sealer is great for all your decoupage projects.Includes brush applicator.
  • Ideal for decoupage with greeting cards, tissue paper, magazine pages, postcards, stamps, tickets, and more.
  • Non-toxic & acid-free
  • Dries clear

Where to buy: The Martha Stewart line is now carried at Michaels, A.C. Moore and some WalMart stores.

Have you tried any of Martha’s products? What did you think? What is your favorite decoupage medium?