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Heritage Shadow Box

Frugal Crafts and Homemade Gifts (featured column)
Submitted by Angie Chavez  

Shadowbox gifts

This is a special gift idea for preserving the memory of a loved one. The sample project is a memory box of my grandmother. I made it as a gift for my mother.

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Items needed:

Shadow Box or Photo Frame
Actual memorable objects or photos of them (some ideas listed below)
Scrapbook paper


I included a photo of my grandmother as a young girl, as well as one taken before her death.  I included items that I knew would have special memories for my mother, including:

A paintbrush, because my grandmother loved to paint.
A scanned photo of the head covering she wore to church.
A crochet hook and doily that my grandmother made.
Her favorite hymn, printed on vellum, with a black and white photo of my grandmother placed behind it.

If you choose to use all photographs or scans of items, a plain photo frame can be used. For more depth and to include real objects, a shadow box should be used. I attached black scrapbook paper to the back of the shadow box first for a more vintage look.

Print some photos or stories typed out on vellum, then layer a photo behind them. This would be especially meaningful if you type your memories of the photo on vellum, then place the photo behind it. Bible verses, songs, etc., also work well. Scrapbook stores carry many embellishments that add character to the Heritage Box. Use scrapbook tape or adhesive for photos and lightweight items.

I used a stronger craft glue for heavier items (in moderation, so it wouldn't run down the page). If you can't make all the items fit, make color photocopies and reduce the size. This also works well if you don't want to part with a treasured keepsake - you can make a scan of the item instead. I placed the black scrapbook paper behind the actual item when I scanned it, so that any color showing through would match the background.

Other than purchasing a photo frame or shadow box, very little expense is involved because most of the items are ones you would already have from the loved one. Some supplies such as scrapbook paper, adhesives and copying costs might also be incurred.

Don't forget to use coupons for craft centers to purchase the shadow box and check thrift stores and yard sales for vintage-looking frames.

Heritage Box Mementos to Include:

Eyeglasses, watch, or other jewelry

A pressed flower (perhaps their favorite flower)

Something handwritten by the deceased

A favorite recipe

Old letters or postcards

Military insignia

Fabric from an item of their favorite clothing (in place of the background paper)

Something handmade by the deceased

A song sheet of their favorite song

Hobby related items (fishing lure, crochet hook, baking items, sewing items, a favorite book, etc.)

Type out their favorite sayings or expressions ("You can't judge a book by it's cover", etc.)

Memory of the loved one (ask other family members to contribute their special memories of the person and type them on on pretty paper to arrange around the inside of the box)

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Return to Homemade Gift Ideas

Copyright © 2006 by Angie Chavez. All rights reserved.

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