Shadowbox Framing: Creating Beautiful Wall Displays for Three Dimensional Objects

Wall displays and framing aren’t just for paintings, photographs, and other two dimensional art pieces and keepsakes. You can also adapt wall-mounted framing to accommodate three dimensional pieces, using a type of frame known as a shadowbox.

Shadow boxes have a history rooted largely in the military. They’ve long been used to preserve and display military medals and honors, folded flags, and other objects of relevance. Today, they’re widely used by consumers to showcase art pieces and objects with sentimental value, while keeping these objects safe and protected from humidity, dust, light damage, and other environmental factors that could damage them.

What Can You Put in a Shadow Box? As It Turns Out, Just About Anything

 

Shadowboxes are incredibly versatile, and can accommodate a wide range of differently shaped and sized objects. They’re often best suited to objects that are relatively flat in profile, but can also be built with more depth to house pieces which are not particularly flat.

Some of the most common things we frame in shadowboxes for our clients include:

  • Sports memorabilia. This is a very, very popular category for shadowbox framing. Sometimes the memorabilia belongs to the person or their child, but it can also be professional sports memorabilia, like signed baseballs or famous players’ shirts.
  • Military medals and other memorabilia. As we’ve mentioned, one of the most historically popular applications of shadowbox framing has been for military memorabilia.
  • Insect speciments. Pinning butterfly specimens is a surprisingly common hobby, and shadowboxes are by far the best display option for beautiful arrangements of preserved insects.
  • Children’s arts and crafts projects. Kids make all kinds of interesting things out of surprising combinations of materials. Many tend to be partly or fully 3D, from macaroni art to popsicle sculptures. These crafts can often be rather fragile, so encasing them in a shadowbox is a great way to keep them safe for years to come.
  • Bridal keepsakes. You’d be surprised how many couples save and preserve their wedding bouquets, along with other objects like garters and bridal veils. Shadowboxes are a great option for arranging and displaying them as wall art. We’ve even seen people shadowbox their entire wedding dress and its accoutrements.
  • Antique or exotic garments. We’ve created shadowboxes for antique kimonos, East Asian fans, and even antique fine jewelry. Many antique garments and accessories are far too old and fragile to really be worn, but are bought and displayed as objets d’arts instead.
  • Concert and sports event tickets. Tickets to events you’ll remember for a lifetime, along with other associated memorabilia like wristbands and program pamphlets, are a great fit for shadowbox displays.
  • Antique swords and firearms. Secure shadowboxes are a safe way to protect these kinds of antiques from environmental damage, while keeping them on display as interesting historical curiosities.

These are just a few of the many kinds of objects, common or otherwise, you can easily display in a custom shadowbox frame.

Framing Sports Shirts

 

You’d be surprised how common it is for people to put sports shirts — personal or professional — on display in custom build shadowboxes. It’s probably one of the most common applications of shadowbox framing.

It’s a good idea to have shirt framing done professionally, because getting it right is more complicated than you might think. The layout and folding — or non-folding, depending on the item — are actually important. You want to keep the display relatively compact, while making sure the most important aspects of the shirt are still visible.

Shirts can be framed on their own in a relatively flat shadowbox, or combined with other objects like trophies, signed sports balls, or event tickets into a more three-dimensional display with a greater depth to it.

One concern with mounting a shirt is preserving its fabric. In most cases, shadowbox framing involves using metal pins or adhesives to affix objects to the frame’s backing. We’ll often fit the shirt around a special foam core to preserve its shape well within the display case.

We use specialized acid-free archival backings for fabric objects, as other backing materials can damage them over long periods of time. In many cases, we use UV protective glass or clear acrylic as well, as the UV wavelengths in unfiltered natural sunlight from windows can fade the pigments in fabric dyes, especially in antique garments.

Building Custom Shadowboxes for Art Pieces and More

 

Like two-dimensional frames for flat art pieces and other paper memorabilia, shadowboxes can be made in just about any wood stain or finish, with many different options for aesthetics that complement the object or the decor of the area in which it’s displayed. From ornate baroque woodwork, to sleek, barely-there cases that are mostly acrylic or glass, you can have a custom shadowbox created to fit just about any design aesthetic.

The glass or acrylic itself is engineered to reflect as little light as possible, reducing glare. As we’ve mentioned, we also use UV protective glass for many types of objects that we frame, since some materials are susceptible to damage from natural sunlight.

Shadowbox Framing is a Beautiful, Versatile Option for Displaying and Preserving Art and Other Important Objects

 

For art and memorabilia with depth to it — whether it’s relatively flat like a shirt or medal, or quite three-dimensional and robust — shadowbox framing is an aesthetically appealing and versatile option. Not only does it keep your most valuable possessions visible to be admired, but it also keeps them protected from dust, moisture, and UV radiation that could damage them irreparably over long periods of time.

To find out more about custom shadowbox framing, or to get a custom quote, call us any time at Frame Set & Match.