How to Use a Shadowbox Picture Frame

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017

How to Use a Shadowbox Picture Frame. A shadow box is similar to a picture frame, but it's deep enough to hold objects instead of photographs or paintings. The objects in a shadow box must be carefully chosen and arranged to form a pleasing composition and to complement the shadow box itself.

Gather the items you want to display in your shadowbox and arrange them on a table or other flat surface.

Measure the height of the tallest object. Your shadowbox frame should be just deep enough to hold the tallest object plus the glass that will fit inside the frame.

Check the length and width of your arrangement. Your shadow box should be sized to hold the arrangement with a minimum of extra space. If you can't find a shadowbox the right size, rearrange your items or have a custom shadow box constructed for you.

Choose a mat board of color and texture to complement your arrangement. The mat will go on the back board of the shadowbox and inside the sides of the shadowbox frame.

Pick out accessories such as liners and fillets to fit inside the edges of the frame. The right accessories will enhance the look of the shadow box and set off the items inside.

Determine the best way to attach your items to the back board. Photos, invitations and other paper items can be glued, but some items must be attached with clips designed specifically to hold them, such as coins, utensils, jewelry and weapons.

Keep the kind of items in mind when arranging. For instance, a shadow box commemorating athletic achievement may contain ribbons and medals that must be displayed in a specific order.


Shadowboxes can be mounted on a wall or set on a table. Consider how you will display the shadowbox when arranging your items.


Take care not to destroy the value of rare or expensive items, such as coins or jewelry, when attaching them to the shadowbox back board.

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