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A Fun Way For Your Jewelry to Make New Shadows this Halloween Season, or Year Round

Every Halloween I can’t wait to get out my massive Halloween jewelery pile and sit on the bed to marvel at some of my better pieces. Each piece is a work of art in my eyes, and I can’t help thinking how neat it would be to have a way of showing it off when I’m not wearing it.

I got a great idea when I cruised through Hobby Lobby and saw some great, single shadowboxes without slots. They were perfect for a few of my favorite necklaces, bracelets and rings. This is a great way to create a one-of-a-kind Halloween artwork and have a way to protect as well as display your best Halloween jewellery. It’s easy, cheap and so made for creative people like us who want to put our own spin on our holidays and decorating. Before we get to a list of supplies to make your own, here’s a bit o’ history.

History of Shadowboxes . . . Pretty cool!

Most of us grew up with shadowboxes our moms and grandmas proudly displayed on walls or in hallways. Some were filled with antique buttons, mementos from important events in their lives or just filled with life’s little treasures. But do you know where shadowboxes came from and why they’re called a shadowbox? Me neither until I looked it up!

No, they didn’t get the name shadowbox because the objects hung in shadowy hallways or in the shadow of real art. These modern-day, trinket-filled boxes got their name from our seafaring past and, like all good things, the name came from a superstition.

It’s said that it was bad luck for the shadow of a retiring sailor to leave the ship before his shadow did. So the rest of the crew would build a finely crafted box filled with honored items of the retiring man’s glories at sea that symbolically created a shadow of the man. Thus, the shadowbox would remain on board until the sailor was ashore and his safety was assured. Then his crewmates would host an elaborate ceremony where the man and his career would be honored. His captain or shipmates would present the honored shadow of the man box to him with much pomp and circumstance.

The sailor himself would invest in a quality shadowbox so he could see his many small trinkets that reminded him of his past exploits to distant shores during the course of his career at sea. Those souvenirs were traditionally small since sailors had very small places to call home on the ship. Let‘s face it – they didn‘t usually become rich men at the end of their careers, so usually one box would hold a lifetime of memories. Hard to believe in our consumer-driven days we live in, isn’t it?

List of Supplies for Your Shadow Box

  • Paint brushes (several sizes)
  • Acrylic paints in Halloween colors
  • Sandpaper (100 grit)
  • Pencil to mark out your design
  • Paper, paint, vintage postcards, artwork, pictures or felt for inside backing
  • Small hangers for the back of the shadowbox
  • Masking tape

If you plan on displaying jewelry, you will need a padded back for the box without slots. You’ll need the following to create one:

  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Wood glue
  • Cotton batting (thin layer)
  • Thin but sturdy cardboard
  • Felt
  • Tacks
  • Objects to be displayed

Where To Get Your Shadowbox

Go to your local hobby store and select several inexpensive glass-fronted shadowboxes without slotted spaces to decorate and place your treasures in. The boxes come in many different sizes that will allow you to do more than one for an impressive grouping for not much money. I’m talking $2.99 or higher if you catch them on sale! I got mine for $1.49 each on sale.

What To Show Off

You probably have plenty of jewelry or other items to display around your house, so flea markets be damned! Gather a pile of jewelry, mini Halloween ornaments, antique cake picks or anything that you’d like to show off that will fit in your boxes.

Getting Started

This project is so easy and can be completed in one or two afternoons depending on how elaborate you paint your shadowboxes and what kind of paint you use. Your choices of colors or amount of painting are all up to you and is only limited by you!


  1. Sand your shadowbox with fine sandpaper (100 grit) and wipe off all dust from the wood with a dry cloth so your paint will have a good place to stick to.
  2. Select acrylic paint colors of your choice, and you may need several different sizes of paint brushes depending on the design you choose.
  3. Let each session dry until you’re done with the painting.***A note of caution*** Do Not paint the tracks where the glass slides in or in the narrow strip of wood that locks the glass in place. The paint will stick, or you might not be able to close it or open it after the paint dries the next time you want to change the display. If you do find some paint has gotten in the track, take a graphite pencil and rub it gently on the sides of the glass panel and into the channel to aid in sliding over the tacky paint.
  4. If you want to display jewelry in the shadowbox, you’ll have to make the padded back so you can attach the jewelry before you glue it in place. Get your material, cotton batting, cardboard and either tacks, double stick tape or glue.
  5. Lay the back of the shadowbox on the wrong side of your fabric and carefully trace a light line onto the back of the material and then the cardboard. Cut on the line on the cardboard and around the cardboard on the cotton batting so that they are the same. This will allow room for the thickness of your material for your next step.
  6. Carefully cut the material with about a fourth of an inch outside the line you traced by laying the batting and cardboard on top. Snip the corners like in the example so you can make a good square corner as you fold and attach the material. This will allow room for the material to cover the batting and leave material to tuck behind the cardboard when you’re ready to attach all three together. Then you’re ready to install it in the shadowbox once you‘ve decided if you want to make it permanent or temporary.
  7. Either install the newly padded back of your shadowbox with permanent glue or, if your display objects are light enough, use double-stick tape or tacks if you need the extra hold if the backing is temporary. This will allow you to change the back easily at a later date.

I hope you’ve gotten inspired to make a new display for your jewelry or other treasures this year. A tight budget never gets in the way of good Halloweeners and their decorations!


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