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Saturday, May 5, 2012

DIY // Marine Life Shadowbox Art

Ever wonder what to do with your sentimental items?  We have hundreds of ticket stubs, cards, letters and other mementos crammed into our keepsake box, tucked away out of sight.  Some things are better left in there but there are a few things that we wouldn't mind seeing out in public.  I was completely inspired by this framed sanddollar by Katie Bower of Bower Power circa 2008, who was initially inspired by Nate Berkus .  How can you NOT be inspired by Nate B?  or Katie B. for that matter?!  With two Ikea shadowboxes found at the thrift store, fabric, cardboard and craft glue I made my own heartfelt decor that is sure to inspire some happy memories.

Josh (the hubs) longline fishes in Alaska during the summers and he always brings me home at least one piece of coral that made it's way up the line onto the boat.  I've never known what to do with the coral so they've either sat on a windowsill in our old bathroom or were tucked away in our keepsake box once we moved into the new house.  While the others are still hidden away, this little guy has found a new home.

Last summer, we had this amazing day on the beach where we discovered hundreds of FULL sanddollars.  Now, I've been to the beach plenty of times but I've never found a single unbroken sanddollar, until that day when we went home with 15 or so. I found a home for one, but what are we going to do with FIFTEEN?! Perhaps a bad call on our part...

A few years back we took an amazing sailing trip with some friends and I've been meaning to frame a photo that I shot during the trip.  The frame that I had was for a 5x7 photo so obviously my 4x6 photo wasn't fitting, so I used some fabric and cardboard to make my own photo mat.  The fabric gives a sort of sandy texture to the photo...now if only it was straight and the corners were perfect.  Ha!

I am absolutely in love with each of these. I love how the fabric creates texture and lets our little sanddollar, coral & photo shine.  Love, love, love!  I even love how a little bit of sand fell out of the sanddollar inside the frame.  Perhaps it's that little guy's way of getting back at us for plucking him from his sandy home?  Touché, Mr. Sanddollar, touché.

Here's a quick rundown of this simple project.
I traced out the background onto cardboard using the backplate as a template.  I cut out a piece of fabric about 1/2 inch longer on each side of the cardboard.  Next I placed the fabric with the right side down, centered the cardboard on top with the unprinted side down, ran a bead of craft glue along the perimeter of the cardboard and folded the fabric's edges over onto the glue.

After the glue dried, I glued the sanddollar and coral to the right side of the background piece.  You can use hot glue, but I used craft glue and it seems to be holding up great.  Let dry and place in your shadowbox.  
As for the DIY mat...here's a fantastic and widely pinned tutorial by Amy J. at Delightful Distractions.

So, next time you find yourself hiding away your keepsakes think about how you could display them in your home's decor.  I can't think of anything sweeter.



  1. Meg, what a beautiful and elegant way to display your meaningful keepsakes from the sea!

  2. What a neat idea, I am adding shadow boxes to my mental list when I am thrifting. :)

    1. Thanks Kendra and thanks for stopping by!


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