Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DIY Shadow Box using Cardboard

Recently, I made a keepsake gift using shadow box and when I went for shopping shadow box I found it difficult to find a size I want. This is a second time it is happening, The first time was when I was planning to make DIY Gemstones Picture Frame/Shadowbox. I couldn't find a box that it deep enough to fit the stones and also I couldn't find a square one. So I settled for a square one with less than one inch deep and decided to break the stones to fit inside. I thought I should give a try making my own shadow box and I am sharing it with you today. 

How to make piggy bank shadow box using cardboard

Materials used:
Cardboard box
Tissue paper
Scrapbook paper
Hot Glue 
Mod podge
Utility knife or Craft knife
Writing utensil & Ruler
Paint (Optional)
Acetate sheet 

Step 1: Decide the measurement of the shadow box. I went with 5.5" square with one-inch sides. The frame thickness is 0.5". Use a ruler and a writing utensil to measure and draw the front and back frames on the cardboard and cut using the utility knife.

5.5" square frame with 0.5" frame width

Step 2: Cut the cardboard pieces for the sides. For the outer square, cut 4 pieces measuring 1" X5.5" and for the inner square, cut 4 pieces measuring 1" X4.5". 

Step 3: This step is optional. I planned to use it as a piggy bank for "my craft supply fund" so I cut the slots in the pieces that go on the top of the box. Measure and cut the slot for money to go in. The slot measurement I used is 0.25" X 1". 

Step 4: Glue the cardboard pieces onto one of the square frames you cut in step 1.If you find the one or two pieces of cardboard a little bigger, trim the sides to fit the square.  (I forgot to take a picture after gluing all the pieces. )

Step 5: Cut small strips of cardboard and glue on the center of the frame to act as a stopper for the back piece. I just eyeballed the measurement for this strips which will be approximately 0.25" in width. 

Step 6: Now measure and cut a back piece that fits perfectly inside the frame you created in the previous step. 

Step 7: The construction part is over and now comes the painting and decorating part. Cover the frame with tissue paper using mod podge. I did three layers of tissue papers all over. Leave the front frame and back piece as such. You just have to cover the frame you created till step 5. You can also skip this step and cut pieces of cardstock and glue to cover the cardboard. I find it easier to do with mod podge as I need not be precise about the measurements. This step is mainly done to cover the corrugated parts of the cardboard. 

Step 8: Paint the frame in the color of your choice. I painted it with pink acrylic paint. It took 2 coats of paint to get an opaque look. You can skip this step and use pink tissue paper in the previous step to avoid painting but I only had white tissue on hand so I decided to paint. 

Step 9: Glue the acetate sheet on the front. Cover the front frame with a scrapbook paper using mod podge and glue on the top of the sheet. 

Step 10: Cover the back piece with tissue paper or tape(I used duct tape for this, as it is fast and added a small flap by folding the duct tape in half to remove the back piece) and add a scrapbook paper to write your message. I wrote "Craft supply fund" using a marker but it can be anything like Vacation fund, Car fund, Date night fund, etc. Put the back piece on to the frame and the shadow box is done. 

I love how this turned out. I totally accept that it is quite a bit of work but the end result is so worth it and of course you are getting it for almost free if you have all the supplies on hand. I made the back piece as removable one but if you want it permanent you can just glue the back piece and skip the step 5. By that way, you can add all the things you want from the front and glue the front frame at last. Or, if you are putting anything that is heavy and want it to be removable I would advise adding tiny flaps(made of any thick material like chipboard or thick cardboard) using brads to the frame in step 5 so that it holds the back piece (Like the ones you see in the picture frames). You can use command strips to hang the box if you want.

What all the others things you would have done differently if you were to make this shadow box? I am sure this can be done in many ways but I went with this method based on the things I already have. Share with me your thoughts in the comment below. As always I will be happy to hear from you.

Other DIY projects you might like, 


  1. What a clever idea!!! I would have never guessed that this frame was made from cardboard! Fabulous!!

    Thank you for sharing your fabulous project with us over at Waste Not Wednesday! :-)

  2. Love this! What a creative idea! #HomeMattersParty

  3. What an amazing way to upcycle a cardboard box! I would like to make these with my kids and let them save their money for summer fun activities. #HomeMattersParty

  4. What a great tutorial, Sahana! I will definitely be following this tutorial to make a shadow box of my own!! Excited to be cohosting with you this month! #HomeMattersParty

  5. Great way to recycle cardboard and create a one of a kind item. Thanks for sharing with us at #HomeMattersParty

  6. Love this! I like it when you can reuse something!

  7. Love this project! So great when you can recycle something into something fun! #homemattersparty

  8. What a great idea! #HomeMattersParty

  9. A great idea to recreate. Thanks for sharing. Would love to connect at

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