Art Travels Week 11: Shadowboxes

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog


Good evening!

The weather in Colorado has been magical this last week with days in the low 60′s and colder, crisp nights.  The heirloom apples from a neighboring organic farm have been so delicious, and the big quandary is simply which variety of the 7 or 8 in the root cellar should we eat next.  I love this time between Halloween and Thanksgiving as it feels truly like fall, with all the sights, sounds, and flavors of the season.  Winter starts for me after Thanksgiving, despite the date on the calendar or the weeks until the winter Solstice.  In today’s post I will be showing the process of making the first of three shadowbox collages with a fall theme,  including my new grandson of course!

Here is an image of the first shadowbox finished:

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Little Danny boy was just 3 weeks old in this photo.

I already have three shadowboxes that are 8 X 8, and right now I am “shopping” at home!  So the size has been determined by the stash.  I love shadowboxes that have three main parts, the outer box, the inner box, and the backing.  These particular shadowboxes have a glass sheet that fits inside the outer cover.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

I did the exact same process of adding the green in a layer below the photo…this was the same PSD file as the “pumpkin baby”, I just turned off this layer when saving the jpg file of the pumpkin photo, and vice versa.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

While these two photo files were printing, I made some Photoshop backgrounds to cut up for the outer box.  I wanted to cover the outside of the shadowbox because it was black and also more opportunity for cool collage.   I used Tangie Baxter’s kits, “Field Notes:  Fall”, and “Fairies”.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Art Travels with RainArt Travels with RainIn the middle of making these three 8.5 X 11 files to print, I received my Art Journal Caravan email from Tangie with the news that the 2013 Collage Mania collection was available in the ScrapbookGraphics store!  So of course my plans for the boxes needed to alter to include some of the collage sheets printed out.  Below is an image of one of the collage sheets I used, along with #694, #707, and #768, and the preview.  I highly recommend checking out the new 2013 collection as it is on sale right now and fabulous!

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogAvailable at (

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogThe next step in prepping my printed photos, after giving each a bit to dry completely, is to trim off the white edges.  I use a rotary cutter to eyeball these types of cuts, but a craft knife or scissor works fine.  If you are using a rotary cutter, please, please practice safety at all times…these are essentially rolling razor blades that are super sharp and deadly to tender fingers.  Always use the safety guard every time the cutter is put down, and keep your other hand to the side or behind the blade.

Having said all that, I adore cutting photos with a rotary cutter for clean, effortless trimming.


Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Next, I will then confirm the size of the shadowbox inner area for the photo using the printed paper ad. I cut the photo paper edges away, then re-confirm using the inner box.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Then I cut a painted backing paper as I have never seen a shadowbox that is exactly 8 X 8 or other designated measurement.  I use the same inner paper ad as a cutting template, then using double-sided archival tape, affix the paper to the backing of the frame first.  Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogHere are the two glues, above, that I used for this project.  Obviously similar products will work just fine.  I avoid using wet glues with photos that are home printed, and frankly, most of the time regardless, just to be safe.

The continuous line glue dots I mainly use for the decorative bits later on. I use the tape lining up to one corner, then peeling off the protective cover, all around the square.  Then I line up the top two corners of the painted paper and firmly press down.  I smooth from the top to the bottom, then turn the backing over and trim right up to the edge of the backing with the rotary cutter.  Once I have the painted paper mounted and trimmed, I center the trimmed photo into roughly the middle of the backing, confirm with the inner box, and tape “glue” the photo down.  Be gentle smoothing over the surface of the photo, and consider covering the print with tissue or other paper first just like a press cloth when ironing.  This is another reason to wait until the photo is absolutely dry before mounting.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

Now comes the really fun part…decorating the outside.  Using one of the collage sheets, I made a measurement of the length, and cut a strip of paper.  There are many ways to do the next steps, so my way is not the proverbial highway! Some folks would rather do strips for each part, but I find that a bit tedious.  I line up the front inner corner with an extra 1/8 inch, make a fold along the outer box, then holding the outer box upright, I make another fold from the side to the back.

Then I poke my index fingernail into the inner corners in prep for the continuous glue line.

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogArt Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blogLaying aside the folded paper for a moment, I attach a glue line to the inner bitty frame, then double-sided tape to the edges all the way around to the back.  Now I line up the fold on the outer side first, and press down firmly, then the inner portion of the frame.  Third, I hold the box upright again and smooth my hands over the paper from the center out.  Last, I press down the portion that wraps around to the back, trimming carefully if there is excess paper.

I repeat this for the opposite side of the box first, then piece together the other two sides using the same method.  I once again confirm that all is attached.

Now I line up the mounted photo, the inner box over the mounted photo, and the outer box on top.  I want to add further cut pieces of the collage sheets and my printed backgrounds to the outer and inner portions of the shadowbox and I want to make sure I don’t obstruct a clear view of the photo itself.  I used the  glue lines on smaller pieces like the branches, and the double-sided tape for larger pieces and underneath the bits that I mounted inside the inner box to create depth.  So here’s another look at the first finished shadowbox…it’s late now and I’m off to bed, planning on finishing the other two tomorrow!

Art Travels with Rain for Tangie Baxter's blog

take good care,



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