I've always loved shadow boxes - little time capsules of valuables and keepsakes that tell a little story. I remember first seeing them as a child in museums and libraries; books, locks of hair, remnants of a life locked away and preserved behind glass. According to Wikipedia, shadow boxes got their start in the military, particularly the navy, when they were used to carry the belongings of retired naval officers:
"Military shadow boxes were originally simple boxes in which sailors retiring from shipboard service carried their belongings ashore. Superstition held that if the sailor's shadow touched shore before he set foot upon it that he would suffer ill luck. By carrying his belongings, a metaphorical "shadow" of himself, enclosed within the box he could ensure he would touch land before his "shadow."" -Wikipedia
*Of course I can't help but imagine one of these tucked under the arm of Captain Wentworth as he steps off his ship, about to meet his long lost love, Anne Elliot...
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight and a half years ago. Dare not say that a man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant."
- Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion.
Ah but I digress, (it always comes back to Jane doesn't it?) I was telling you about my love for these little treasure troves... as fascinated by them as I am, I've always wanted to make one but never knew what to put in it...
Well, being as obsessed as I am with anything Victorian, and being intensely inspired by mixed media and shabby nouveau and steampunk genres and in no small measure being propelled by the fact that my mother's birthday was days away (she shares my love for shadow boxes) I became consumed with the idea of creating a Victorian mixed media shadow box centered around my mother's most favourite thing; sewing.
So I started with a fairly simple and inexpensive shadow box purchased at Michaels:
|Even the advert paper inside the packaging tempted my Victorian sensibilities!|
Of course my recent addiction to Chalk Paint - decorative paint by Annie Sloan meant this baby was getting a full-on make-under to really look as though it came from 1873.
|I taped off the edges of the glass door with green painter's tape and got ready to paint!|
|Country Grey and Pure White in a 70/30 mix did the trick.|
To begin, I applied a fairly even coat of my colour mixture (let's call it 'Pure Country') all over the inside and outside of the box (including the hinges - gosh I love the look of painted hardware!)Then, after it dried, I painted the interior of the box with Primer Red which I find has a delicious 'old Quaker barn' quality to it.
|We are starting to see the outcome emerge!|
|Yes my beauty, reveal yourself to me...|
After applying an all-over coat of Clear Wax I sanded the inside red to reveal the pale colour beneath. I love this two-colour distressing technique, it really makes the piece look as though it's been painted and worn and painted and worn over years and years.
Then I applied my favourite part; the Dark Wax! I just love how this tinted wax by Annie Sloan completely creates the beautiful illusion of age, of years in an attic and the patina of being handled over and over again.
|Look at that texture! My mishy mashy brush strokes did the trick!|
|I even love how my shoddy tape job resulted in some painting leaking under and onto the glass, it totall contributes to the look of the piece!|
Once I knew the wax was nice and dry after 24 hours I began to add the bits and bobs I had collected for my mom to represent her love of sewing and quilting but also her admiration of anything vintage and Victorian! *Gosh no wonder I'm her daughter eh?
Piorra Maison. Rich burgundy red, old golden yellow, rusty orange and naval officer blue (in honour of Captain Wentworth!)
Suffice to say, Mom loved her birthday present and I truly loved making it! In fact, it's put even more of a desire in me to make more shadow boxed in themes or "stories". The possibilities are endless, all it takes is an idea!
I think I could be persuaded to get crafty and do some more... perhaps while a favourite film plays in the background!
"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.” - Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen's Persuasion.
*He could enter my house anytime! *growl*...although my fiance might have something to say about that... oh well, better stick to making shadow boxes!