Shadowbox: Made from an old picture frame and pallet wood scraps

Good afternoon friends! I don’t know about you, but my week has been full of good things. I had some sushi, learned that it’s not ok to crop people’s fingers out of pictures while editing, bought some beets that I’m going to bake into a cake (we’ll see how that goes), and FINALLY made a shadowbox frame for the moths I drew  🙂 .

Gilded shadowbox with hand drawn moths inside

The entire day I have been drawing a blank on what to say about shadowboxes or how to tie a tidbit of my weekly experiences back to shadowboxes. They are pretty uninspiring all by themselves. One thing I just couldn’t get out of my head, though, was that I painted my shadowbox gold which clashes with every single wood-paneled and country-flower-bedecked corner of our trailer. So that got me thinking about what other items in my house are kinda out of place, strange, or just plain ironic. And so here you have it: a photo diary of the odd collections, decorations, and storage habits of the Mullennex family for your enjoyment.

This shadowbox is probably the fanciest-looking decoration in our trailer, in an upscale-shabby-chic kind of way. So if your space needs a fun conversation piece and/or if you have pallets and old frames that need some TLC, this could be just the right project for you! You will have something to talk about afterwards because I have a feeling not many people draw lifelike pictures of moths and hang them in handmade frames on their walls. Just sayin’. 😉


  • picture frame (with 2 mats—optional but looks pretty!)
  • 1 can of spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum Metallic Finish Gold)
  • 16 1 ¼ inch brads
  • 1 large white foam poster board
  • 4 thumb tacks
  • 2 tack nails
  • a  circular saw
  • pallet wood scraps + something to prop them up on
  • a pencil
  • Gorilla wood glue
  • Aileen’s tacky glue
  • hand saw
  • tape measure
  • scissors
  • a box cutter + cutting board for underneath
  • a hammer
  • the moths you drew from last week

How to do it:

  • First, remove the glass, mats, and hanging hook(s) from your frame. Then, take the time to measure the length and width of the frame so you know the right lengths to cut your pallet scraps.

Sawing the pallet scraps

  • Now cut your pallet pieces into the correct lengths, and check them against your frame to make sure they all fit together as snugly as pallet wood can.

Shadowbox unpainted

  • Next, nail the pallet pieces together, and nail the frame on top with brads. Make sure everything lies flat and that you line up the pallet wood with the frame. Particularly take care to line up the inside edge of the frame with the inside edge of the wood. If there is overhang on the inside, you will have trouble getting the glass back into your frame.

Too long pallet scrap

  • Just so you know, if you sorta pencil-eyeball your measuring (like Asa and I did), something like this might happen once you put it all together. :/ Oops. Moral of this story: measure.
  • Now the fun part! Spray paint the daylights out of your entire shadowbox frame in a well-ventilated area, and wait about an hour for it to dry. Then, while the frame is drying, prepare your moths to live in their new home.

Foam pedestals

  • While the frame is drying, prepare your moths to live in their new home. First, cut three 1 x 1 inch squares from the foam poster board for large moths and three 1 x ½ inch pieces for small moths. Stack and tacky glue the three pieces together to create a little raised pedestal for each moth. Let these dry.


Moths on their perches

  • Bend the wings of moths up slightly on either side of their bodies so they look like they’re pumping their wings. I didn’t do this for my pink and yellow moth because he was drawn to just be resting, not flapping. When the foam pedestals are dry, glue one moth to the top of each, and set them aside.

Tacks holding mats and glass in place

  • Once your shadowbox is dry, put the glass and the matting back inside it. Hold them both in place by pushing thumbtacks into the wood as close as you can to the matting. (Make sure the thumbtacks are secure! One of mine came out and is now forever fated to roll around the bottom of the shadowbox. 🙁 )
  • Now lie the frame on the remaining foam board, lightly trace around it, and cut where you traced with a box cutter. After that, play around with different arrangements of your moths against this surface you just cut out. I chose a tilted, less-organized look for mine to make them look more alive and less “pinned in place”. They sort of look like they’re crawling around this way. Decide what you like best, and glue each moth-topped foam pedestal in place.

Gluing the backing on

  • Finally, put Gorilla wood glue along the inside edge of your shadowbox and glue the foam backing to it. (In the picture I applied too much glue. It won’t hurt anything to put it all over the edge, but it might save you a bit of a mess if you just stick to the inside edge.) Your moths will be upside down during this process. Be gentle so they stay in place! Turn the box over so that the foam backing is down; the heaviness of the frame on top will hold it together until the glue dries.
  • Replace the wall hook with 2 small tack nails, and hang it in a place of honor because this whole thing is a piece of art that you made yourself!

Finished shadowbox

A shadowbox frame can be used for so many different displays. Arrange your succulent plant collection inside one. Or hang a retired but beloved pair of ballet slippers in another. I think I just got some new ideas, but I won’t give them all away just yet. 🙂

If you come up with any new ideas, please share them in the comment section below or send me a picture of your creation! I think shadowboxes and the color gold just became my new craft fixations… 🙂


2 thoughts on “Shadowbox: Made from an old picture frame and pallet wood scraps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *