I’m a big fan of shadow boxes– it’s brings together the best elements of both the picture frame and the scrapbook. It has more interest than a photo because you have the opportunity to tell a story about the picture. For example, my mom and aunt made one as a gift for me after my wedding– it has a photo of my husband and I at our wedding, a photo of our marriage license, a poem from the back of our program, the cd cover that we gave as favors, and silk red roses and wheat stems. It has a lot of meaning, and goes into much more detail about that moment in our lives than a plain old photo would (though we have plenty of good photos too 🙂 ). But I only have so much wall space. And I like to mix things up every now and again. So here’s a simple project to turn your would-be shadow box into a cool bottlescape (centerpiece, anyone?).


-Large clear bottle

-4-6 smaller sized mementos

-Photo(s) (you’ll be gluing it image-side to the bottle, so a good photocopy on regular typing paper is best)


-Chopsticks or metal with a bent hook at end

-Corresponding filler (i.e. sand for beach theme, confetti for party theme, etc.)– you don’t have to have this, but it’s a nice touch.


Okay, here’s a cheat– you can use a jar if you want. If your mementos are small or can take a little folding/smooshing this will definitely work with a small-mouthed bottle. To determine exact placement of your objects in the bottle, use chopsticks or a piece of wire with a bent hook at the end so it can grasp your item and them you can stick it in the bottle. I like to paste photos with clear glue onto the outside of the jar (with the image facing in) to function as a backdrop. (That, and it is kind of difficult to get photos into a bottle without messing them up and making them unviewable). Or, like I said, you can cheat a bit and use a jar. Smooth sided mason jars are good, or if you want go really crazy and do a huge one, cookie or storage jars are neat. The benefit of using bigger jars is that you can be really specific about where you place your items, and you can even permanently affix them with glue (haven’t tried glueing in a bottle– seems like that might be tricky). You can also, obviously, use much larger objects.

I like the idea of little worlds under glass– it’s an unusual way of showing off notable moments that would be forgotten in a photograph alone. So the next time a rainy day comes along, and you’re looking for something to fill your time, you know what to do…