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How to secure heavy items in a shadow box

Updated April 17, 2017

Preserving memorabilia in a decorative manner has become a popular hobby. Many items are displayed on shelves or arranged in scrap books. Shadow boxes are an alternative for showing off mementos. Smaller items can be arranged in a shadow box using pins or tacks to attach them to the backboard. Securing larger items in a shadow box requires a more substantial mounting technique. Items can be secured using permanent fixatives or with removable products, depending on your needs and preferences.

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  1. Remove tacks or brads that hold the backboard of the shadow box in place using pliers.

  2. Cut cotton batting to fit the dimensions of the backboard. Place the batting on the backboard.

  3. Cut decorative fabric to the dimensions of the backboard adding an extra 2 inches to all sides. Stretch the fabric around the batting to the back of the backing board.

  4. Secure the fabric to the back of the board using fabric glue.

  5. Decide on the arrangement of items in the shadow box. Arrange the items to your liking.

  6. Attach the smaller, lightweight items, such as photos, cards and fabric pieces, to the backboard using pins or tacks.

  7. Position heavier items in the shadow box.

  8. Secure the heavier items using your choice of adhesive. Some adhesives, such as liquid glues, foam tape, and industrial-strength epoxy, are permanent. Do not apply these adhesives until you are sure of your positioning of the mementos.

  9. Choose removable adhesives (Velcro fasteners, hot glue gun, adhesive dots) for items that you may want to move or remove. Place the fasteners on the object to be mounted and press into place.

  10. Add decorative pieces of fabric, ribbon, buttons or beads to conceal glue or other adhesives.

  11. Replace the backboard using tacks or brads.

  12. Warning

    Work in a well-ventilated area when using glues and adhesives. Read caution warnings on the packaging of adhesives to determine if they can damage your memorabilia.

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Things You'll Need

  • Shadow box
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Cotton batting
  • Decorative fabric
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Pins or tacks
  • Permanent adhesives
  • Removable adhesives
  • Decorative trims

About the Author

Michele Norfleet

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master's degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.

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