September 22nd, 2013

A Trio of Shadowboxes

Fall is, definitely, here to stay. It was a strange summer, but welcome anyway. I will miss the warm weather, shorts and flipflops. We kept busy, though, at our shop. One of the things we do really well and enjoy designing are shadowbox frames. You can define a shadowbox frame as a frame with more-than-normal depth to it that contains a 3-dimensional object or objects. It can also be flat, 2-D objects raised up on platforms and designed as a collage. Here are 3 examples of this sort of work, with a story to go with each one. 

Charm Bracelet Shadowbox

Our client had been collecting charms for her charm bracelet for many years. Finally, she decided to retire it and frame it so she could enjoy it without necessarily having to wear it. She brought it in and it was determined that we had just the thing, already built, on the shelf: An 8 x 8 black, wood, readymade shadowbox frame. The frame is by Lawrence Frames and is about 1 3/4" tall inside the frame. It comes with a velcro-covered fabric panel at the back of the frame for the do-it-yourself framer.

It was determined that we would make our own, drop-in shadowbox for the frame instead of the velcro panel, since the charm bracelet would need to be sewn down extensively to hold the positions shown in the photographs. The box was made from Bainbridge 4165 Coal Black Suede matboard. Although Dana, our shop manager, designed the piece, our other designer, Julie, ended up doing the framing and all the sewing. She had to spend twice as much time sewing as had been originally envisioned, since each little charm swung independently from the bracelet and had to be immobilized. Remember: Gravity rules!

Check out her handiwork:

Charm Bracelet Shadowbox Frame  charm Bracelet Detail 1






 charm Bracelet Detail #2



charm bracelet detail #3




 Charm bracelet shadowbox profile




Shadowbox Frame Store Display 






 Frame design by Dana L. Fisher, CPF

 Design executed by Julie Kotulak

Photos by Brian D. Flax, CPF

 Images shown by kind permission of Bea Cervantes. 


   At left is a display of the Lawrence readymade shadowbox frames that we stock in our frame shop. They come in either 8 x 8 or 12 x 12 size in Black, White or Espresso. They cost $24.99 and $37.50 respectively. They are a great bargain since it would, normally, cost $50 to $80 for just the frame alone if it were done as a custom frame. They are imported, but the quality is really good. 



Wedding Memory Shadowbox

 While photo albums are traditional to preserve the visual memory of a wedding, one thing that is becoming more popular is a Wedding Collage frame. It is a wonderful way to keep together all the non-photographic ephemera that can be linked to the happy occasion (besides photos, of course). Here are a couple of images of one we did for the Nakayamas, designed by Dana:

Nakayama Wedding collage  Nakayama Wedding collage detail







 As you can see, the central item in the composition is the photo of the bridge and groom. The collage contains photos of before, during and after the wedding, invitations, stuff from the celebration, etc. The frame is a silver leafed wood frame and a blue shadowbox. Glass used is anti-reflective, which is important to help you see 3-D objects at varying levels without unpleasant and distracting glare. Many of the elements in the shadowbox have been mounted onto small platforms, while other items are surface mounted or a mat opening has been cut in the drop-in shadowbox. In Dana's case, she opted to make the mat openings out of more interesting shapes, not just boring rectangles. Frame size is about 24 x 24" square.

Designed and executed by Dana L. Fisher, CPF

Photos by Brian D. Flax, CPF

Images shown by kind permission of our client, Ed Nakayama

A Career in a Shadowbox Frame

Our third shadowbox also tells a story: It contains many items that our client was responsible for as Press Secretary for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. While he has, since, moved on to a different career in the private sector, he wanted to preserve all the memorabilia that he had acquired while working in government. Dana designed a shadowbox collage that measured 46 x 32 (it had to hold a lot of stuff) using Studio 3120 Madera Coffee moulding, Anti-Reflective glass and an oversize sheet of Crescent mat board 89511.  Note how some of the items in the frame turn the corner and travel up the inside, vertical face of the shadowbox:

P. Gaynor Shadowbox 




















 Sometimes, it improves the composition of the shadowbox collage to vary the angles at which some of the elements are mounted. By changing the heights of their mounting, as well the shapes of the platforms upon which they reside, you can add more interest and drama to the piece, such as what Dana did here in this shadowbox.

Frame designed and executed by Dana L. Fisher, CPF

Photos by Brian D. Flax, CPF

Images by kind permission of Paul Gaynor.

So you see...........

that every shadowbox needs to tell a story and there needs to be some cohesiveness to the elements and layout for it to be successful. Important elements need a central location while lesser elements orbit around it. There is, in the end, no right or wrong way to do this. It just takes a little thought and common design sense to work out the puzzle.  But in every instance, the contents were about something important in the clients' lives, that would resonate with them each time they looked at it up on the wall. Often, the design of the collage or shadowbox needs to be worked out with the client present. Other times, the client gives us enough time to think it through and come up with something truly unique. 

Indeed, we frame your world.

In October:

See you in October, where we will show you a huge watercolor we framed this month, along with other cool stuff. Also, check our our Facebook page. I post there several times a week. Thanks for visiting our website and reading my blog!

--Brian D. Flax, CPF

President, Flax Art & Frame Inc.

For Questions or Comments

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