New This Month


Specimen Box

Specimen boxes can evoke natural settings. A selection of sea-worn clamshells or pressed leaves makes a simple, beautiful display. Sea glass, driftwood, a vintage postcard, and a map can re-create a journey to coastal Maine.

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.

Try out our other shadow box projects to help keep your vacation memories alive: Souvenir Box and Summer Collection Box.


  • Sturdy gift box with lid

  • Glass cut to fit inside box lid

  • Utility knife

  • Fine sandpaper

  • Scissors

  • Map or decorative paper

  • Spray adhesive

  • Bone folder

  • Contact cement

  • Sheet of colored paper

  • Craft glue or museum wax

  • Jewelry boxes (optional)

  • Paper label (optional)


  1. To create a frame for a glass insert, draw a rectangle in the center of the box lid (ours has a 1 1/2-inch border). Carefully cut out the rectangle with a utility knife; smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.

  2. To cover the box lid, cut a map or piece of decorative paper to the size of its width and length plus its depth and an additional 1/2 inch. Coat top and sides of lid with spray adhesive. Place paper wrong side up, and center lid upside down on top; then cut out rectangular window with the utility knife. At each of the four outer corners of the paper, mark and cut out a square that's even with the lid's edge on one side and that will leave a flap extending past the lid's edge on the other side, as shown. Fold long sides up and over box edge, smoothing with bone folder; press around corners. Fold short sides up and over; smooth with bone folder. Cement glass pane in box lid; weight down with book. Let dry according to instructions.

  3. Line the box bottom with colored paper; secure with spray adhesive. Affix items in position with glue or wax. You can also line and mount small jewelry boxes and label.

Reviews Add a comment