Creating a Customized Shadow Box


Shadowboxes. Generally, just a wooden box frame with a glass panel. As simple as it seems, they’re pretty great. You can put anything in there and display it: Baby milestones, awards, photo collage, boarding passes with souvenirs from a trip.

If you’ve never decorated a shadowbox, do it now! They’re pretty nifty and cooler than just a picture frame. You can bling the frame, add some vinyl quotes on the glass, and fill it with personal memorabilia. They make great crafts, personalized gifts, or you can buy the shadowboxes in bulk and make retail inventory. (Check out the TRW Design Wizard Advanced Cost Calculator)

Here’s an easy how-to idea for a shadow box using a simple souvenir t-shirt from a sports camp. We’ll apply a name and team number to the pocket of the shirt for personalization, then make a vinyl decal for the inside of the glass.

First, apply the heat transfer vinyl design with the name and number to the pocket location of the shirt, keeping in mind it’s going to be folded and placed in the box so it needs to be visible. Press it for the recommended time and temperature.

Helpful hint: For easy weeding of the HTV vinyl, as my heat press is warming up, I drop the press down to warm up the bottom platen and then weed my Easyweed inside the heat press. The warmth makes for the wedding process to go a little smoother since it’s a heat transfer vinyl. Decal vinyl won’t work this way. Keep it away from heat.

For the next step, use some FDC Decal Vinyl, cut the name with a matching font to the camp location, “Summit,” and mirror the design because this is going on the inside of the box on the glass facing out. I place it on the inside so it looks cleaner and the texture of the vinyl won’t be noticeable.

The easy work is done. The hardest part is deciding where you want to place the vinyl decal onto the glass. I put mine at the bottom. To measure for the center of the box, measure from edge to edge. If the box is 12-inches from outside frame edge to outside frame edge, find the six-inch park with on the ruler and make a center point mark with a dry erase marker. Note: This is the outside of the box, not the inside of the box where the decal and shirt will go.

Flip the box over and fold your vinyl transfer in half to make an indent line for its center. Line up the center of the decal with the marker spot. Peel away the application tape and you’re done. Just fold and pin the shirt, place it inside and put the backing in place. Don’t forget to wipe off the dry-erase marker on the glass.

If you like this idea and want some others, check out these videos. But really, you’re only limited by your imagination!


About Author

Hope loves sharks and laughing at people. Read her articles now, because she's gone in June.


  1. Hope,
    At the bottom of the post on the shadow box, you say ,” if you like this check out these videos”. I got the impression there was going to be a hot link or possibly videos listed below that, and there doesn’t seem to be either.
    Is there something else intended to be there that maybe is missing?
    Thank you for the info and I’m really sad I did not get to meet you when I was at TRW last week for training!

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