Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sneak Peek--Shadow Boxes, Sandpaper, and a Story or Two

Yesterday I mentioned I'm suffering from a slight case of writer's block. Thanks for the suggestions. Here's a sneak peek into one of the projects I've been working on for my guest room.

But first, a story . . .

We lived in my Grandma Tucker's house, among all of my Grandma's things, when we were newly married (for a post on Grandma Tucker, click here). Her sons were scrambling through everything, sorting the trash from the treasure, all while agonizing of the decision to place her in a nursing home for her Alzheimer's. It was a hard time for them.

One day, I came across a box in the garage that was designated trash. What did I find?

Grandma's china.  Nothing close to a complete set, but treasure to me.  I asked my dad, and he gave the six dinner plates, six cups and saucers and the sugar bowl to me.  I've kept them ever since, but I've been too afraid to use them very often.  Plus, there are so few of them that they aren't very functional anyway.

When I decided to redo the guest room, I wanted to have something that belonged to or was made by each of our mothers and grandmothers in the room.  What a great place to showcase Grandma's plates?

I couldn't find shadow boxes that were the right size in white, so I ordered six 12-inch black shadow boxes online (for 9.99 apiece).  I got my supplies together, and I started to work.
I haven't done a crafty project in a VERY long time.  Can't remember the last time, in fact.  But I was ready to tackle this one.  I painted all six frames white (a process that took over five coats of paint over the course of two days), but I couldn't remove the glass so I had to tape off both sides of it, and the paint bled through the tape. Add an extra hour with a razor blade scraping off the glass. I was not happy about that.  Plus, the paint just never looked very good.  So I lightly distressed the frames with a little sandpaper.

(Funny side story:  I was discussing tomorrow's upcoming football game with Ben as I was working.  I picked up the sand block and commenced sanding.  He cringed, covered his ears and shrieked, "STOP THAT NOW!"  He was covered in goose bumps.  Sandpaper=nails on the chalkboard for Benny boy.  Hope he wasn't planning a career as a finish carpenter!)
Here is the frame all sanded down and much better looking.

Next step:  Cover the back of the frame with burlap left over from lining the curtains.  Originally I thought I'd staple the fabric to the back, then I thought maybe spray adhesive.
Hello?  How long has it been since you attempted a craft?  Remember your friend hot glue?  This was so much simpler.  I dropped a bead of glue around the perimeter, trimmed the fabric to fit the back, and this is the result:
Now I was getting somewhere.

I didn't want to do anything permanent to the plates, so I bought these handy dandy plate hangers from Michael's:
Stretch them around the plate--so easy.

I then measured the distance from the hook to the top of the mat, and hammered in the hook, like so:
Brad calls that my Barbie hammer.  But I don't care, because then he leaves it alone, and I always know where to find it.

Hook the plate hanger on the hook, insert plate into frame, and there we go. All finished. 

Isn't it fantastic?  Brad's a little concerned with how I want to hang them, because he's afraid we can't get them straight, but I think they will be perfect. (any tips?)

Six of these shadow boxes took me a total of nearly six hours.  More than I'd bargained for, that's for sure.  But I couldn't be happier.

What do you think? Can't wait to see the whole room, can you? I'll start revealing the room next week. After Heidi and Sam see it!

Linking up to S at Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.
Jenny Matlock


  1. That's such a lovely idea for a guest room. I have a few odd pieces of my grandmother's china - you've given me an idea.

  2. What a neat way to display your grandma's china. Love it!


  3. I love this story :) Isn't it just wonderful how things that people consider trash are such fantastic treasures for us? I'm just so glad that your grandmother's china found a wonderful home with you and not to some stranger!

  4. Great idea for Grandma's plates!!

  5. I have a bunch of blue willow china -- I'd never thought to put it in shadow boxes as opposed to just hanging.

  6. That will be so awesome on the walls. I love it.

    Such a great way to show off the plates and remember your grandmother.

  7. Great idea. When my grandma died we all wanted her enamel covered tin plates that had cowboy boots and brands on them. I didn't get one :( I'm glad you did...and your display is very creative.

  8. Great tutorial. I have to find away to make one.
    Double link-up, come join the conversations every Thursday and Post your questions on Thursday Two Questions Meme

  9. I love what you did. I like solutions that let you purpose something that would otherwise not be very useable - especially if its something you love! The distressed frames are perfect!

  10. Great save from the trash pile! I love that you framed them...

  11. There is nothing better than a project accomplished. And this one looks great. My favourite picture hanging product. Blue tacky stuff, sometimes white. It's like silly putty. I put a little ball on each of the lower corners of my pictures and hang exactly where I want them too. And the putty comes off and doesn't leave a mark.

  12. I can't wait to see the room either... But mostly I can't wait to see all you guys! :)

  13. Very pretty.

  14. Clever, clever you!

    What a brilliant way to display (and keep safe) this family treasure.

    You're right!

    I can't wait to see the room.

    Off to see if the next post contains more pictures!

    Thanks for linking.


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