How To Make an Alphabet Shadow Box

updated May 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to display the alphabet in a child’s room. Using an old picture frame and some wood, you can construct a shadow box, stencil letters onto the glass, and fill it with tiny, found objects to represent each letter. Click through for the complete how to.

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• picture frame
• quarter inch thick plywood
• 1″ x 2″ strips of wood
• 1/4″ x 2″ strips of wood
• 2 hinges
• hook closure
• paint for wood
• paint for glass
• wood glue

1. Strip your frame of all paper, cardboard, and hardware. You will only need the wood frame and the glass. Save the hanging hardware to reattach to the back of your box later. Sand wood lightly if you intend to paint it.

2. Construct box. a) Cut a piece of 1/4″ thick plywood to the exact size of your frame. Then b) cut four pieces of 1″x2″ wood to go around the edges. Glue them down then c) hammer little nails in through the back to make it extra strong. Then cut four strips of 1/4″x2″ and glue them down in the box evenly spaced out (d). They should fit snugly. Then cut 21 little bits of 1/4″x2″. They’re all exactly the same size (e). Glue them into the box, too. You might want to think ahead about what you’ll be putting in each space to determine how to space them. For example, I knew my kazoo would need a bigger compartment than my hairpin.

3. Paint box and frame. Attach frame to box with hinges and hook closure.

4. Fill with little things. You could stick to a theme if you like. I was shooting for a vintage objects found in a kid’s pocket sort of look.

5. Apply alphabet stencils. (I used Martha Stewart brand).

6. Pick up a tiny bit of glass paint (I used Martha Stewart paint for glass) with a dabber and pounce onto letter stencil.

7. Gently peel off stencil before paint is completely dry.

8. Reattach hanging hardware to back of shadow box.

Note: You could skip constructing your own box if you can find a shadow box with lots of compartments.