Framing Keepsakes In Shadow Boxes – It’s Our Book In A Box

Maybe we should rename our site Young Shadowbox Love. They’re just my jam. I’ve stuffed them with everything from calendars with special dates circled

… to keys from all of our past homes

… to wedding paraphernalia.

I think it just goes back to loving the idea of displaying things that make for happy memories instead of tucking them into a closet in a box that never gets opened. So pretty much from the second we started writing our book over three years ago I had my eye out for things that I could save and stick in a box to forever commemorate this crazy journey that we never could’ve guessed we’d ever be on. One of my favorite things to collect throughout the process were the pencils that we used to make edits on the manuscript and the giant layouts that we’d ship back and forth between the publisher and ourselves.

The pencils started out long, but over the 336 pages that make up our book they’d slowly get worn down. We’d use different colors depending on the rounds of edits that we were doing (the spellchecker would write in one color, our editor would use another color, and we’d write in a third color) and the papers would get sent back and forth looking like a fun little rainbow of chaos that only the typesetter could understand. As you might imagine, since the outline for the book was written over a year ago, and things were refined and revised over the last ten months with those crazy little pencils, we amassed quite a collection of them, many of which were worn down to half their size after lots and lots of notes in those margins.

I contemplated just putting the pencils in a shadowbox on their own, but thought it would be fun to add in some other meaningful items to remind us of this crazy book-rollercoaster, so everything from the textured wallpaper to a swatch of fabric, a random post card, and the little personalized rock that reminds us of Burger (all from secret book projects) ended up in my shadowbox pile.

I had a 6 x 6″ shadowbox from Ikea on hand already (they’re super cheap – $5 I think), so I just cut the textured wallpaper to the size of the frame to act as our background, and then used super glue to hold everything from the pencils and the rock to the fabric swatch in place.

I let everything dry in place (don’t wanna hang it up until the glue is totally cured since things have to fight gravity once they’re hanging) and then the next day I stuck it into the frame…

… and hung it up in a nice little place of honor in the hall bathroom. I thought about putting it in our hallway of frames, but for some strange reason it felt like I’d be “burying it” – so I love that it gets a little place of its own so we can gaze at it whenever we’re in that room (it’s where Clara takes her baths and sits on the potty, so we’re logging lots of time in there these days). Oh and we don’t worry about any steam getting in and hurting it since Clara’s baths aren’t hot and we don’t shower in there (our guests have their own guest bath). Whew.

Isn’t that bike towel cute? It’s supposed to be a dishtowel (I got it for John back here) but it works just as well for drying hands on the way out.

What have you guys been shoving into frames lately? Anyone else doing odd things like collecting used-up pencils and saving tiny fabric swatches? I can’t be the only one…


  1. says

    This work is so lovely !
    Your job is really great. Thank you for showing us all your talent and all your great ideas.
    Kisses from France !

  2. Meagan G says

    That’s a great idea- I have a tiny little box full of random bits from our wedding.. I think I might just go ahead and pick me up a shadow box from ikea this next weekend (I’ll give them the rest of the week to make sure they have power)

    Glad to hear that you guys made it through the storm okay- I hope your family and ours didn’t suffer too badly in NY.

  3. Sarah says

    I just recently finished a shadow box of all my dads patches and pins from when he served in the Air Force. I love that they are contained and being preserved! And I also like it that you dont have to explain every detail you put in. You know what it all means, and if someone else wonders, they can ask! Btw, where did you get the horse towel holder?? I love that!!

    • says

      That’s such an awesome project! Sounds so cool! As for the horse towel holder, it’s just a weird iron horse from a thrift store, but I thought he was perfect for holding towels! Haha.


  4. says

    Such a cute idea! I can’t wait to start hanging art on our walls. I have lots of ideas for personalized wall art, I just think it’s wonderful to have memories of life surrounding you on the walls rather than art that anyone can buy at a store (although that’s good once in a while too!). Windows go in today at our place, then the painting can begin!

  5. says

    I love those shadow boxes from Ikea, too. We had to DIY a gift for Secret Santa among friends a few years ago and I used several of those in black & white glued together, forming a checkerboard. It turned out great!

  6. kate says

    Love the shadow boxes – this one is a nice reminder of all the hard work you put into the book. But what really caught my eye in the post were the pillows – I must know where you got that green & aqua pillow on the couch – please share the source. Thanks!

  7. says

    Oh how I love that fabric swatches idea!!! I am currently in the final stages of a collection that’s taken me over a year to develop and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to remember it (you know, other than the overflowing closet in my sewing room, of course). I think I might get a big shadow box and fill it with all my fabric swatches and samples I’ve collected. Thanks for the idea!

  8. says

    I wishI had a quarter of the design sense that you guys have. Right now I am saving pennies to buy some adorable rugs. (Inspired by your bedroom rug) Love all the shadowboxes.

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