The phrase “A picture is worth a Thousand” Words” is a visual artists motto. An image that tells a story without having to speak a word is an extremely powerful tool. Some possibilities are photographs, drawings or paintings. But a more un-common example is the shadow box.
Creating a visual story involving 2 and 3 dimensional objects, hand crafted elements, original keepsakes and multiple materials allow the artist to create a one of a kind piece from a one of a kind point of view. Take the time to hunt down the coolest, most interesting materials. Choose what inspires you considering color and texture.
If you are looking for a project to work on with your child, the shadow box not only allows an opportunity to experiment with new materials, but when complete, becomes something to display for years to come.
Last year at this time, I took on the awesome project of making a shadow box for a dear friend who won an Oscar. Now, if that’s not an event to build a shadow box around, then I’m not sure what is.
My friend’s name is Brenda Chapman. Brenda is an incredibly intelligent and creative woman who won the Oscar for directing the animated feature, “Brave.” As I’m sure many of you with kids have seen this movie dozens and dozens of times over, like at my nieces’ house, you have to agree it is powerful, passionate and gorgeous! Brenda recently gave 2 TedX talks that every woman should see. So take some time to check them out. This was her latest in Berkeley.
I decided to take the moment that Brenda won her Oscar, in her custom designed blue gown…
…And infused it with the esthetic of the main character, Merida, with hair flowing, standing on the hills of Scotland.
I used a nice variety of materials including paper, burlap, ribbon, thread, linen, paint, branches and foils. Starting from the back, I created a landscape for the entire piece.
Several layers of different colored linen were cut and mod-podged in place. The threads you can see are frayed on the edges, which add to the wooded look of the landscape. Don’t be afraid of imperfection. Sometimes it becomes a gift.
When picking details of the story you want to tell, be sure to keep your mind open to the possibilities in every detail. My “dress,” was made of layered, wired ribbon keeping it effectively in place at every curve.
My face was done simply with a set of perfect pretty lips delicately sewn by hand in red thread.
The hair was a graphic shape cut from a gold metallic piece of paper, topped with thin curly branched that I sprayed gold and glued in place.
The corset was sewn in one piece of royal blue glitter paper.
And for the Oscar, no need to be literal and cut out some pre-printed picture of an Oscar. A minimal graphic version is all anyone above the age of 5 would need to recognize its identity.
Then each completed element was added to the environment, one at a time.
As a final congratulatory wish, my sentiment was printed in reverse on a printer and taped on the front. Then with a gold paint pen, I simple traced the letters from inside the front window.
I could barely wait to give it to her. And when I did, I don’t think she ever expected anything like it. So no, maybe it will never top being handed an Oscar. But it succeeded in telling her that I was right there with her in spirit when I watched her do it.
Celebrate special moments. Document them. Revisit them. Be creative…and remember to think outside The Shadowbox.
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