New This Month


Souvenir Box

Gathering and displaying a few treasured things from a trip to France and a vacation in Italy recall the exciting days spent traveling.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, August 2004


Why hide mementos between the pages of a scrapbook when you can exhibit them as art? Collect souvenir trinkets, seashells, rocks, postcards, or leaves while on holiday, and then use them to create a three-dimensional display that you can enjoy every day.

The best approach to making a shadow box is to view the world as a child would. Pick up a shiny pebble that catches your eye. Save that concert- or train-ticket stub. If you like the way a foreign coin looks, slip it into your pocket, and keep it for your shadow box. Even a road map, a book of matches, or a subway token will do. A shadow box can present items that you've collected during a trip abroad or those you've discovered while walking along a beach or hiking a challenging woodland trail. Almost anything can be included, but be sure to check local regulations if you want to gather natural items, such as fossils, feathers, or plants.

To begin, you'll need a shadow box. You can make one, buy one, or adapt a picture frame or a plain cardboard box for this purpose. The following instructions show you how. Assembling a shadow box is a lovely afternoon activity when you're feeling nostalgic. Each tiny item you place in the box will remind you of those wonderful days spent exploring the world.


  • Wooden box with sliding lid

  • Glass cut to lid size

  • Utility knife

  • Balsa wood

  • Small paintbrushes

  • Wood glue

  • Fluid acrylic paint

  • Craft glue, museum wax, or pins

  • Materials tip: To exhibit keepsakes that are best displayed standing up rather than mounted, begin with a wooden box that has a sliding lid. Replace the lid with glass (cut to size by a framer).


  1. To make a shelf, use a utility knife to cut balsa wood the length you'd like shelf to be and slightly less deep than the box (so it won't touch the glass). Brush edges that will touch box with wood glue, and position in box. Let dry.

  2. Paint exterior and border of box. Let dry according to instructions. Paint inside of box a lighter color. Let dry.

  3. Stand box on its end; glue, wax, or pin mementos inside. Slide in glass lid.

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