I love being creative and making simple gifts on the cheap. With us both being teachers, we don’t have a ton of extra money to spend on all the little holidays throughout the year. You can read more in this post about how we keep a budget and live on two teacher salaries. So each year for Father’s Day, I try to create some sort of inexpensive gift for my husband that reflects my feelings for him as the father of our boys. My most recent gift was this 3D shadowbox that I ended up making for both my husband and father-in-law. They LOVED them!
They are so easy to make and require very little supplies that you probably already have on hand.
First, decide what size photograph you want to display. I would stick with a 5×7 or 8×10. For mine, I used 5x7s. Also make sure that the portion of your photo that you will be making 3D is no bigger than 3-4” tall so that you have enough room to add the state outline.
Then gather or purchase these supplies:
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- 2 copies of the same size of your chosen photograph in 5×7 or 8×10
- Printer for state template
- Paper template of the state of your choosing
- 5×7 or 8×10 shadowbox frame
- 1-2 sheets of black cardstock as they will be used to reinforce the back of the photo
- Scrap piece of red cardstock, for the hearts on the state(s)
- Spray Adhesive
- Foam squares or pop dots
- Kraft-colored corrugated cardstock
- X-acto knife or micro-tip scissors (I use Fiskars because I can be very exact in my cutting)
Use spray adhesive to glue a copy of your photo onto one of the sheets of black cardstock to give the photo more durability. Once dry, carefully cut around the outline portion of your photo that you want to make 3D, whether it be a landscape or people in the photo. This is a perfect job for the micro-tip scissors.
Place 2 layers of foam squares or pop dots on the back of this cut out portion and adhere directly over the identical details in the 2nd photo. This allowed my husband and son to sit higher than the state of Texas, which I wanted to be the focus in the frame.
Print out the state template and cut around the state you chose. I found that I needed to enlarge the state of Texas to fit proportionally inside my shadow box. So, I enlarged the state by increasing the scale percentage in the “printer preferences menu” before printing.
Place the corrugated paper face down on your work surface and then the state template face down on top of that. Trace around the state template and cut out. The corrugated paper is a little trickier to cut than regular cardstock, so the micro-tip scissors came in handy again.
I didn’t use any sort of template to make the heart on the state. I cut it out of red cardstock by just “eye-balling” it. Then glue these adorable hearts to mark the city of your choosing.
Again, use foam squares or pop dots (only one layer this time) on the back of your cut out state. Now place your state wherever you choose on the background of your original photo so that it balances the overall look of the picture.
Disassemble the shadowbox and use spray adhesive to glue your now 3D photo onto the back inside portion of the shadowbox frame. *Use the spray adhesive for this part and not the foam squares because it does not need to be raised up.
Now comes my favorite part: reassemble the shadowbox, clean off any glass smudges, and admire your handiwork.
I’m always amazed at what one can do with very little supplies and a short amount of time. Although I gave this as a Father’s Day gift, this 3D shadowbox would be a great gift any time of year. I think a set of Christmas icons or even the nativity would look really good using this technique. You could even do a really big heart for Valentine’s Day instead of a state in the background.
I hope you’ll give this project a try and share a link in the comments if you end up making it yourself. I’d love to see your creation.
Don’t forget to Pin this Father’s Day gift idea so you can come back to it.
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