What does one do with a pair of bronzed baby shoes? That was my dilemma. I wanted to preserve Julia’s first pair of shoes, but I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t actually destroy the shoes. Sure, bronzing them would preserve them forever, but it would also take away the color and some of the details in the shoes that make them special.
I decided to mount Julia’s first pair of shoes in a shadowbox. This way, the shoes are not only preserved, but also could be worn again by her child if she so chooses . . . plus, they make a fairly attractive display item that we can enjoy every day.
First, I gathered my supplies:
1 shadowbox with a 12×16 interior space
1 can of black spray paint
1 piece of mat board
1 sheet of handmade 20×30 paper
chipboard letters to spell out Julia’s name
1 sheet of 20×20 black cardstock
Julia’s baby shoes
1. Finding an appropriate shadowbox turned out to be quite an adventure. It had to be large enough to hold Julia’s shoes in length and width, but also in-depth. After measuring the height of one of the shoes, I figured I needed a shadowbox that is 2 1/2″ deep. I also preferred a wooden frame in black so that it would match the rest of the frames in our house. I was unable to find a shadowbox that fit all my criteria. So, I improvised! I found one that had all the right dimensions, but was silver (this is where the spray paint comes in!). I took the glass off the shadowbox and removed the back and then spray painted everything black – including the small strips of wood that hold the glass in place from behind.
2. Since the inside of the shadowbox is not a standard mat size, I was unable to find a pre-cut one. So, I bought a sheet of artist’s board, cut it to size, and then cut an opening in the center of it. The finished mat is 2″ wide on all sides.
3. To give the mat a nicer finish, I decided to wrap it in handmade paper. The design in the paper doesn’t show up well in the photo, but it’s a cream-colored paper with little silver silk threads running through it. I found this paper at Hobby Lobby in the pre-cut mat section – it’s actually intended for wrapping mats. I taped the mat I had made to the wrong side of the paper and then cut slits in the paper from one corner to its opposite, making an “X” inside the mat opening. Then, I pulled the paper tight around the mat and held it in place using double-sided tape. Essentially, I wrapped the mat the same way you would upholster a seat cushion or wrap a present.
4. To create more depth in the shadow box, I then cut strips of black foam core (the kind that is black in the center as well) and adhered them around the outside perimeter on the backside of the wrapped mat. This way, once the mat was adhered to the back of the shadowbox, it would look as if it is suspended above the backing.
5 Next, I covered the backing of the shadowbox with the black cardstock using double-sided tape.
6. At this point, all that was left was to adhere the letters of Julia’s name and her shoes to the backing of the shadowbox. I used double-sided tape to hold the letters on and since the shoes are relatively heavy, I used a double-sided foam tape to hold those on. Then I just popped the glass back in the frame, slid the backing into position, and it was ready to be hung or sit handsomely on a shelf.