Easily create a stunning & unique Anniversary gift with this beautiful shadow box paper art with lights & my free files! I provide a video with easy instructions as well.
What is it about an old oak tree with a carved-out heart with a park bench in the shade beneath the tree that beautifully signifies LOVE!
When I set out to create a unique Anniversary gift for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary, this image kept coming back to me. Apparently it was meant to be. So I drew out my image on paper and set out to design it in Adobe Illustrator which I saved in multiple formats that should work with various cutting machines. In fact, if you don’t mind fussy cutting, you could even cut these layers out with scissors!
How to Make a Shadow Box Paper Art with Lights project
Table of Contents
First of all, you can simply watch the video for step by step instructions. I do provide some details of the project below for reference and access to the free files as well. Enjoy!
Video making the Anniversary Shadow Box Paper Art
Shadow Box Paper Art with Lights Tips
I chose to cut my design out as 7.5″ squares. One reason I did not opt for bigger is most couple’s married 60+ years already have a lot of memories and such all around them. Since I’m adding lights to the shadow box this will have a nice impact on such a romantic design.
The shadow box I picked has an outside dimension of 9 1/4″. The inside where the design goes measures 7.5″. So be sure to measure the inside of your shadow box before you size your project.
Feel free to increase or decrease the size of the project if need be, to fit your shadow box frame.
I want to share a few important tips with you in case this is your first shadow box paper art project.
I tried several different types of lights. I’m here to share with you exactly what I used and oh how I love how they look. So bright but not too bright or too dim.
I’ve heard some prefer fairy lights but I felt for this project we needed brighter lights to enhance the beauty of the paper art project.
I chose all white paper for this project but keep in mind you can choose other pastel colors if you like but be sure they are “light” colors as anything on the medium to the dark side will not allow the light to shine through. I have found #65 weight paper to be just perfect. Anything less is too thin and anything heavier does not allow enough of the light through to the front.
I also prefer to use a square of regular copy or laser paper as the layer between the lights and the first layer, which in this design is the square with the moon.
Layered Shadow Box Paper Art
To help envision the layout in the shadow box I will start with pretending my shadow box is laying face down (front picture side down on table) as I take each layer out as listed below:
- Back cover
- Lights with the cord coming out the bottom corner
- White Copy or Laser paper
- Moon layer
- Spacer layer
- Big Tree and Bench layer
- Spacer layer
- 2 Trees and Shrub layer
- Spacer layer
- Grass/Shrub layer (Top layer)
Don’t let those 10 layers scare you, I promise this project is SO very easy!
What is a Spacer layer?
It’s my fancy cute description of what goes in between the decorative layers of white card stock. It’s also what enhances the layered shadow box paper art project to allow the light to shine through beautifully!
My three favorite spacer materials
- Foam board approx 3/16″ thin cut in 1/2″ strips the length of box sides.
- Scotch double-sided mounting tape
- Zots 3D Dots
You will want to choose which spacer layer to use based on how many layers are in your shadow box paper art project. This project has 4 layers so I chose the foam strips as they make a nice even layered sturdy project.
I suppose if you don’t want to cut out the foam slices to the sizes you need, you could use the Scotch double-sided mounting tape and layer 2 pieces on top of each other to get the approx depth of layer as the foam board.
I found the foam board super easy to cut using this layout as shown below.
I will also use a few Zots Dots to strengthen the Oak tree in a few places to the layered tree behind it. (See video for clarification)
If my design had more than 4 layers I’d use 1 layer of the double-sided mounting tape or the Zots 3D Dots.
How to make Shadow Box Paper Art
Design a template or use my free template
Step 1: Design a template or use my free template
You can design a template of your own or download my FREE template located in my Resource Library.
If you choose my template and want to personalize it as I did. Be sure to watch the video to see how I added my Parent’s initials on the tree trunk and added their wedding year on the bench ♥
Step 2: Size your shadow box art template
You can make your template larger or smaller by either unlocking your W & H size area and entering the size you would like. Or you can utilize the double arrow in the lower right-hand corner of your design to increase or decrease the size of your design.
Step 3: Cut out your shadow box paper art design
You can use an Exacto knife to cut out your detailed design or use a Cricut machine to easily cut it out precisely.
Step 4: Assemble your paper art design
Decide what you want to use between your layered paper art. When I size my design, I size it to fit perfectly inside the frame leaving no wiggle room. Therefore I don’t need to worry about my design moving around which also means you don’t need a lot of glue etc to keep your design in place.
I usually use some scotch-type tape to keep my foam board pieces connected together.
If you like you can then glue your layers to your foam board pieces, but I do not. Just a personal choice. I just simply layer the shadow box paper art layers with the foam board taped pieces and then place them in the frame.
Step 5: Place your layered project in the Shadow Box Frame
Now the fun part! Make sure your layers are in the correct order and place them in the frame.
Grab your light strip and line it up so you know where you would like the cord to come out the bottom. You may need to cut a small portion of the backing to allow the cord to neatly come out.
I like to run the light strip first along the whole inside of the frame but not tape it in just yet. I give it kind of a trial run first.
Once I line the inside of the frame I then keep repeating wrapping it around and around until I decide it’s enough or run out of led lights. (I usually use about 16 ft per shadow box) I like a lot of light in mine 💡💡💡
Then I put the backing on the frame, plug the lights in and see how it will look.
If I find there is a gap around the outer edge of the frame that is letting light peak out I then remove all the layers and use some washi tape to seal it off a bit.
If you think the edge of the washi tape will show from the front then just be sure to pick a color that will compliment your design. It just depends on your frame. I honestly could not tell before I purchased it, so sorry I can’t help you out there 😊 It could also be a personal preference type of deal too! The tiny gap of light may not bother anyone but me so Ha!
Get my Anniversary Shadow Box Template FREE!
Download my free Anniversary shadow box template file by subscribing (free) below to get my secret password to my Resource Library
A few more Paper Art Projects
I found another FREE Shadow Box Heart Art Template for you! Check out TracyLynnCrafts for her adorable Shadow Box. I love how she describes different ideas to personalize your project and her attention to detail. Nicely done Tracy! ♥
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♥ Create with Love ♥