If a picture says a thousand words, then imagine what a creative shadowbox can do to communicate your craftsmanship, design skill, and all-around attention to detail. They are an ideal addition to your display wall to make a significant impression on consumers.
I think of shadowboxes as the eye candy of custom framing. They are an excellent tool for starting conversations with customers. Show customers a shadowbox that frames treasured items, and they’ll begin thinking about things they have at home that will tell their own family histories. But making a shadowbox specifically for a display wall can be expensive, which is something I hear from a lot of custom framers in my classes and at trade shows. I always tell them that the returns are worth it in the types of projects that such work samples can inspire. It also is one of the best ways to showcase different techniques such as mounting, elevating objects for visual interest, working with multiple frames, unique mat cuts, creative use with fillets, etc.
During the Tru Vue® Retail Makeover, I worked with winner Sheri Wright, owner of Fourth Corner Frames in Bellingham, WA, to design several shadowboxes that demonstrate how creative a custom framer can be in capturing memories that give walls at home a truly personal touch.
One that has been getting a lot of attention from Sheri’s customers is a framed piece featuring a family recipe and kitchen utensils from Sheri’s mother. When Sheri and I got together to decide on the themes for her display wall, Sheri told me about her mother’s pecan pie. Sheri said her mother made a killer pecan pie. It was her favorite recipe, but it was just sitting in a drawer at her home. Sheri was excited to free the recipe with these vintage kitchen utensils, as it was a great way to honor her mother’s memory.
Not only does the framed kitchen collection preserve, protect and display family treasures, the design techniques add artistic elements that transform the everyday objects. Look closely for the details such as the double stacked frames, antique look of the fillet, shadow behind the recipe card, and the finishing line holding up the rolling pin. What looks like a single frame from the front is actually a combination of two. The pattern of the top frame is identical to what runs along the sides. We used the same moulding for the top frame on its side to create depth and continue the visual interest.
We cut the top mat and underlying fillet trim with eye-catching angles that give the framing package an antique look, as does the distressed painted finish on the fillet itself. Mounting the heavier items, like the rolling pin, required something stronger for the goal of making sure the process could be reversed. We used finishing line to avoid adhesive techniques and make sure the mounting is durable. The recipe card is elevated o the background, which creates a subtle shadow effect behind it.
The balance of the individual items is important, too. The rolling pin was ideal for the centerpiece, especially with the green handles taking space at the top and bottom. The handles of the whisk and pastry cutter were balanced on either side to create symmetry with the color. The cookie cutter to the top right, and recipe card to the bottom left balance the overall spacing across the opening. We chose Optium Museum Acrylic® for the glazing because of the weight of the piece, the preservation needs and the anti-reflective clarity offered, especially considering it is a shadowbox.
The results for Sheri have been exactly what we intended. She has received enthusiastic feedback on the piece, as people seem to be drawn to its warmth and familiarity. In fact, it has inspired other customer projects, including one that Sheri features on the home page of her website. Sheri says that the shadowboxes on her display wall have been a good reminder to people of what they have been storing.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.