Friday, August 23, 2013

An autumn butterfly shadowbox

Hi, all!  Today I'm sharing a super easy project that I hope you'll love.  As autumn gets ever nearer, my butterfly obsession just seems to keep getting more intense.  I've been meaning to make this shadowbox for ages, but only just got around to it.  Good timing, I suppose.  The colors work perfectly with my mostly yellow fall decor, and it obviously fits with my ongoing butterfly theme.

I've had the main component of this project, the wooden box, since last December.  It's actually the box one of my son's Christmas presents came in!  If you have kids, they've probably received something or other from the brand Melissa & Doug.  Well, Melissa & Doug, thank you very much for the wonderful solid wood boxes in which you seem to package all your products.  Truly, from the bottom of my DIY-obsessed heart, thank you.  I never, ever throw those babies away.  To make this shadowbox, I just picked up some scrapbook paper and small butterflies to add to my perfectly-sized little box!

If you don't have a handy dandy Melissa & Doug box lying around, you could easily make your own.  The size and width of the box sides are just about the same size as the 5 gallon paint stir sticks I used for my herringbone tabletop project, so you could pick up a couple of those and quickly put together an 8x6 inch box, using just cardboard as the backing. 

I didn't particularly want the brand name on the side of my finished project, so I sanded it off (sorry M & D!).  I gave the box sides a quick staining with some Dark Walnut Minwax stain before cutting down the paper to fit snugly inside.

Once the paper was inside the box, though, I thought the lettering looked a bit too dark.  I wanted the paper to serve as just a textural backdrop for the butterflies, not to compete with them.  I made up a quick whitewash from a tiny bit of ASCP Pure White and got it to about the consistency of skim milk.

Yeah.  So it turned out that that was way too watery.  It pretty much just made the paper wet.  Mneh.  I added more paint and brought the consistency more into the half & half range (I just can't think of a better analogy for watery white paint, ok?) and that worked fine.  The difference is very subtle, but I'm much happier with the results.

See?  It knocked down the boldness of the writing just a bit, which was exactly what I was going for.  Nothing major, just a slightly softer background.  After that quick step, I decoupaged the paper into the box using some satin finish Modge Podge. 

Impatient crafters get excited, because this part is for you.  With this project you don't even need to wait until the decoupage is dry to do the next step.  Score!  As you're basically just gluing the butterflies to the glue-esque decoupage, it doesn't matter if the latter is dry before adding the former.  The butterflies I picked up came attached to a long thin wire, which I snipped right off with scissors.  Didn't even need wire cutters for this one.

I used tacky glue to adhere my butterflies, but really any glue would work just as well.  This piece is going to spend its days either sitting on a shelf or hanging on a wall, so there's no need to worry too much about sturdiness.  Just stick 'em on there and they should be juuuuust fine.

Ta da!  You've created your very own butterfly shadowbox!  Isn't it lovely?  These would make gorgeous nursery decor, and the butterflies come in all sorts of colors.  I think I may make a few as baby shower gifts.  Hope you liked this quick little project! 

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