DIY Shadow Box Artwork

I’ve been looking for a picture to hang above my highboy dresser. I wanted something calm and serene that would not compete with the large artwork that is on the opposite wall. I just felt it spot was ‘missing’ a little something.

I found this series of Shadow Box artwork on line and I loved it, but I didn’t want to spend that much money for my bedroom. I really loved it, but I knew I would be able to recreate something similar with items I already had at home. They say that copying is the highest form of flattery.

… so here’s what I created 🙂

This Is My End Result

Here’s How I Pulled It All Together

Supplies Required:

  1. IKEA RIBBA 20″ square shadow box picture frame. I have several white ones, so I just used what I had.
  2. Silk fern leaves. Make sure the leaves are small and delicate. I cut branches from an old faux arrangement. You can literally add anything you want as long as it can be secured.
  3. Rust-oleum Metallic Satin Bronze Antique spray paint for frame and leaves. I used the bronze colour since it complemented my bronze furniture hardware. You can go with a brighter gold if you want.
  4. Basics Gold Acrylic Color Liquitex to highlight the leaves.
  5. Small artist paint brush for the gold acrylic paint.
  6. Desired paint colour for background. I used some left over latex paint.
  7. Larger paintbrush to paint background.
  8. Glue Gun.
  9. Box and/or floor cover for spray painting leaves and frame outside.
  10. Something to elevate the frame when spray painting. I used yogurt containers or empty cans etc.
  11. Parchment paper so leaves don’t stick to box.

Step-by-Step:

Separate all the pieces of the shadow box and put the glass to the side so it doesn’t break.


I suggest placing the leaves in a box outside when you spray paint them bronze so they don’t blow away. I also taped parchment paper inside the box so the leaves wouldn’t stick to the cardboard. Place some type of plastic or drop cloth on the lawn so you don’t paint the grass. Spray paint both sides of the leaves bronze until no green is showing. Let dry.


While the leaves and frame are drying, paint the back board of the frame in your desired colour. I used some left over latex wall paint since it complemented my linens in the room. You will notice the back board has a texture to it. I personally like it and think it looks like linen once it’s painted. I found the paint a bit thick so I kept dipping my paint brush in a glass of water. It just helped smooth the paint on the board. Again, just a personal preference. I brushed the paint in both directions for a full coverage. Let dry.

Once the leaves are dry, take the small artist paint brush and lightly brush over the bronze leaves with the shiny gold acrylic paint. It will highlight the raised parts of the leaves and the veins. Go for the sun-kissed look. Let dry.


The finished result!

I hope this inspires you to create your own shadow box. You can literally put anything inside as long as it can be adhered to the backing. The possibilities are endless.

FYI right now, IKEA is selling these RIBBA shadow boxes online until August 5th, 2020 for ONLY $7.99 normally retails for $19.99. They are approx 20 inch square.

Quick Recap

  1. Separate all the pieces of the shadow box and put the glass to the side so it doesn’t break.
  2. Cut the fern leaves and experiment with the layout on the backing of the frame. Take a picture of the arrangement so you can duplicate it later.
  3. I suggest placing the leaves in a box outside when you spray paint them bronze so they don’t blow away. I also taped parchment paper inside the box so the leaves wouldn’t stick to the cardboard. Place some type of plastic or drop cloth on the lawn so you don’t paint the grass. Spray paint both sides of the leaves bronze until no green is showing. Let dry.
  4. Place the two pieces of frames on cans/yogurt containers etc. so they don’t sit in the paint. Spray paint both the frame and the frame inset with the bronze spray paint. Do a few light coats with big sweeping motions instead of one heavy coat. You don’t want the paint to drip! Let dry between coats.
  5. While the leaves and frame are drying, paint the back board of the frame in your desired colour. I used some left over wall paint since it complemented my linens in the room. You will notice the back board has a texture to it. I personally like it and think it looks like linen once it’s painted. I found the paint a bit thick so I kept dipping my paint brush in a glass of water. It just helped smooth the paint on the board. Again, just a personal preference. I brushed the paint in both directions for a full coverage. Let dry.
  6. Once the leaves are dry, take the small artist paint brush and lightly brush over the bronze leaves with the shiny gold acrylic paint. It will highlight the raised parts of the leaves and the veins. Go for the sun-kissed look. Let dry.
  7. Arrange the painted bronze/gold leaves back on to the painted gray backboard until you get the desired look. You might want to refer back to your original photo before the leaves were painted. Keep the leaves in place and with a hot glue gun, strategically glue the leaves to the backboard. Start with the stems first so the structure of the design is in place. Then add drops of glue behind the smaller leaves so they stay. You do want to have some dimension so don’t flatten them too much. That’s the beauty of a shadow box. You almost have 2 inches between the backboard and the glass. Just glue enough to make sure the ferns are securely in place. Remove all the strands of the glue so it doesn’t look like it’s full of spider webs.
  8. Clean the glass on both sides and put the frame back together like it was when you bought it.

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Responses

  1. One of our members sent in this lovely tribute to her mother and aunt’s costume jewelry that was handed down. This is just another way to showcase your treasures in a shadow box.  Thank you for submitting Heather B.  

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