Thursday, 28 February 2013

It's a small world

    Hello everyone!

   I have always been in awe of the ladies over at Our Creative Corner and I was so honoured to be chosen as the winner for their 'Woody with a button' challenge. I was invited to create something for their Top Talent Thursday post and answer a few questions....So if you fancy reading an interview and finding out a bit about me, then head over to Our Creative Corner and have a peek -

    If you have come here after visiting Top Talent Thursday, then first of all I would like to thank you so much for clicking the link! - I hope you will grab a cup of tea and spend a while here as I let you know all about the shadow box I made.....

    The questions were the very easy part! Believe me...If talking were an Olympic event I would be covered in gold medals right now! I also needed to make something to feature as part of the Top Talent Thursday spot....Sue said to me that I could make anything.......Anything?......Oh my!.....what to do?

    I really struggled to decide what to make. When I am given the chance to do something a bit special, a one off project, with no limits - then my mind goes into overdrive and all my efforts go whizzing past the usual 'Give it 100%'. I always feel I have to take it to the next level, push myself further, most of the time attempting something I have never done before.

    I began to search the Internet and found a shadow box...Now, I had seen these before and had always adored them. These beauties are just my kind of thing, full of miniature goodies, lots of tiny detail, delicate, feminine....well, not always feminine - there are grunge style ones out there and they are just as fantastic. I loved them.

   As usual my ideas went into the mode of trying to bump this project up another gear...How do I make it special, unique, original?......"I will make my own box"! (What am I getting myself into?!)

   One of my craft hobbies is making dolls house furniture and the way I saw it - If I can work in 1/12th scale, then I can certainly make my own shadow box. I have even made a 2" square dolls house before! Ok, it didn't actually open and have furniture in it - but it was tiny! I can work with wood - I do know what I am doing (Yes, I really was trying to convince myself!)....Well, It took a lot more planning and work than I originally had thought - But I LOVED every second of it!!!

    I needed to plan how big I wanted the box to be and how many compartments it needed. I marked out some rough lines on paper and began to place some embellishments on there and drew around them to give a very rough idea of space. Then I began to work out measurements, switch things around and eventually the plans began to form. Now I had a sheet of paper filled with measurements (double checked, crossed out, redrawn - all made worse by the fact that numbers and I are not friends) and I could finally begin to make the box.

   The box was made from Balsa wood. I always work with this because it is so easy to cut. The problems with making miniatures is that that this wood is also very fragile, but I don't find that to be a problem unless the kids start playing with the dolls house. As this box was to be quite large, it would be quite sturdy.

The base was made out of three narrow pieces glued together to make a large square. Once the edges were glued in place I had the frame of my shadow box.

 Now I had to fill in the separate boxes. This was quite time consuming as I had to be very careful with getting the measurements exact.

Once everything was glued together and dry, I applied some texture paste around the edges through a damask stencil. I am learning how to use the texture paste...first few times it went a bit wonky but I just scraped it off and began again.

     I painted the box with two coats of gesso which gave the wood a lovely rustic whitewashed look.

I had bought some beautiful Melissa Frances papers recently...They are so breathtakingly pretty...I am new to Melissa Frances but her style is totally in my comfort zone and were perfect for this box....In fact this whole project has been my comfort zone...I was so happy and relaxed while doing this!!! - I might as well have been making this box in a reclining position (that would be tricky!) with slippers and Jammie's on, drinking a cup of cocoa with my favourite music playing in the background!

The background papers were cut to size and glued into place...I don't know how everyone else works but I cannot cut, glue, cut, glue, cut, glue....I have to do one job at a time! So when doing this I sat measuring and cutting all the pieces out. You can see here I placed all the pieces in the right boxes to prevent what would be guaranteed muddle up! When the cutting was done then the gluing can begin!

    All glued in and ready to decorate.......

There were a few embellishments I had to make. I didn't have a dressmaker mannequin die-cut so I had to make my own. I drew the mannequin and sewing machine by hand on card and then cut them out. I stuck them onto Balsa wood and when they were dry, I cut around the card with a craft knife.

     I stained the mannequin with Antique Linen distress stain and Gathered Twigs DI. I blended Old Paper DI all over the sewing machine and then blended the edges of the sewing machine with Pumice Stone DI. I stamped a flourish stamp on the corners with the Pumice Stone ink and painted on a band with Bundled Sage DI along the bottom.

    Dressing the mannequin was fun! I gathered some scraps of material and the idea occurred to me at this point that the contents of the boxes seemed to represent my life....So I began to go with that theme. This is My world in a box. It is a small world but that suits me best.

     The mannequin was dressed in my wedding colours. I got married last year and the colours were Lilac and Sage and for me, a huge part of the preparations were dealing with the task of making 100m of bunting....I had never made any before, hadn't used a sewing machine in years and, to put an even bigger hurdle in the way, I didn't even own a sewing machine - I was really facing quite a challenge. I think you might have guessed that this doesn't ever scare me though and in fact I embraced it totally! A dear friend gave me her sewing machine - a lovely sturdy vintage one that works brilliantly and two of my wonderful friends Amy and Carol sat with me for several days as we cut, pinned and sewed.

     So the mannequin and sewing machine box represents my our wedding - Including, of course the important bunting decoration. If you fancy seeing our vintage handmade wedding, then please pop over to my fantastically talented sister-in-law Alison's (Butterfly) blog and take a peek at the tremendous work she did for us.

        So before I show you too many more individual little boxes of my life let me show you the finished shadow box -

The textured sides of the box were dabbed with Antique Linen and Gathered Twigs DI's to highlight the damask pattern.

Here is a close up picture of the 'vintage themed wedding box' showing the bunting and the sewing machine.

I had to include a framed picture of my children

          The clock represents the fact that, like many people, I never have enough time!

The 'Inspire' box contains the main features of most of my work - Flourishes and Flowers. And the word inspire is also my hope that perhaps I might just inspire somebody at some time!

The crochet flower is for my love of crochet and also linked in there my love of nature with the butterfly and the flowers

The cracked vase is perhaps one of the most symbolic features...I adore plants but they lose the will to live in my the cracks represent my flawed ability to care for the flowers I love. The vase was originally a plain terracotta vase - I applied a couple of coats of sky blue acrylic paint. This was followed with some crackle glaze and then I applied some Gathered Twigs DI before wiping clean leaving brown crackled effect.

The hearts are self explanatory - Love

And of course with Love should go Peace 

My daughter has been going to Ballet lessons for 6 years now - This is to show how proud I am of her

I love sewing...from basic mending to creative embroidery

The tiny beads in the jar are to represent my 'collecting' habit - One of my favourite books about star signs mentions about mine " She'll seldom throw away pieces of string, buttons, jars, cans, broken fuses and old dress patterns. Who are you to say she won't find a purpose in those torn theatre stubs, faded love letters or used teas bags?" - Ok...maybe I draw the line at used tea bags but everything else is correct. 

The shell represents the fact that I was born in Weymouth on the southern coast of England. The beach has always been a place I feel happiest...the wonderful beaches on the Isle of Purbeck were just a few minutes walk from my home. My husband made me cry (happy tears) when doing a speech at my birthday party he told everyone that I still consider that part of England to be my 'spiritual home'. 

The 'Antiques' box is there to show my love of history

The centre focal point represents my love of art. The music background shows how proud I am of the two wonderful boys in my life. My husband who is a drummer and our son who already shows a remarkable talent for music and singing.

So there it is....My World!

I really enjoyed making this and in fact I am sad to see that it is finished. I wanted to carry on adding little bits and pieces. It might have got a bit overcrowded though! I do hope you like it and if you are still here I applaud you and thank you for having waded through a very long post.

Thank you for visiting - I'd love to know you were here so please leave a comment for me. Your comments always mean so much to me.

Take care!

I am entering this into the following challenge -

Divas by design challenge - Anything goes


  1. Oh excellent indeed! I don't know where to start commenting, there is so much to enjoy. Looking forward to seeing it soon in real life :-)

  2. Just amazing, words can't even describe how beautiful this item is. You're such a talented lady dear Laura ;) xxxxx

  3. Congratulations on featuring in OCC Laura - your shadow box is absolutely fabulous and it was wonderful reading more about you! I think the aspect I like best is that you actually made the box yourself. It is very beautifully decorated and I love all the lovely elements that are so personal to you and yours. Brilliant work! Nicola x

  4. And at what point did you consider this not to be good enough?!!!!!! Stunning, beautiful, thought-provoking, personal, feminine, delicate, oh I could go on... Frankly you show others how to do it properly when it comes to this sort of project, and I love the fact that you made so many embellishments. Massive whoop and round of applause for this absolute gem Laura. And huge congratulations on your well-deserved spotlight. Hugs, Jenny xxx

  5. Congrats so we'll deserved , this is an absolute delight! Full of glorious delights and wonderful detail...a stunning make trace x hugs x

  6. Wonderful project... perfect for the OCC spotlight as it shares so much about you and your crafting. Gorgeous box, beautifully made, and all the internal embellishing is brilliantly done. Congratulations!
    Alison x

  7. Congratulations Laura! Truly a work of art. You should be so proud! Hugs, Yvonne

  8. This is beautiful, Laura... your blog is really inspirational.
    Kim M

  9. Really enjoyed reading your interview on OCC and well done for making the spotlight. Loved hearing all about the making of the box and the meaning behind all the contents - found myself smiling as I read. Your work is just gorgeous, especially the textured sides of the box - now I know what I'm aiming for, hee hee! And as far as "inspiring" others - you're doing a grand job.

  10. Hello Laura
    I loved reading the process behind the making of this Shadow Box, all the elements are beautifully made, but what I love more is the symbolism of the piece, thank you for taking us through a snapshot of your life.
    You have no reason to ever feel insecure about your work, if people are not inspired by this then they do not understand what Art is about.
    Feel very proud Laura, you excelled, and thank-you for presenting OCC with an amazing show-piece.

  11. LOL..."They lose the will to live in my hands" Hahahah..Oh my gosh, we're kindred spirits. This project is so unbelievably inspiring. You have done an AMAZING job portraying yourself and the joys in your life. I absolutely LOVE it! I'm completely in awe of this paste texture now too. The wood flourishes look gorgeous!
    Congratulations on being OCC's Top Talent...well deserved if I say so myself. :D
    Lisa xx

  12. Such a gorgeous creation, Laura! Love all the steps and details of this project. Thank you for sharing with us at Our Creative Corner this week. Have a great weekend! :)

  13. Catching up with blog visiting... this is so clever and lovely, Laura. Really well-conceived and (obviously, as it's you) brilliantly crafted! Andrea x

  14. what a beautiful piece, wonderful

  15. OMG, this shadow box is absolutely stunning! Look at that adorable bunting, the crackled vase and the textured damask on the side. Woooow, I mean, WOOOOOOW!!! xxx


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