06 May 2012

My Precious Rose Bud - How to Make Your Own Shadow-box.

I'll have to write a story about it sometime, but the day Roy proposed, the moment he proposed, he presented me with a beautiful red, velvel-like rosebud.  It had a long stem with several leaves.  It was early January, 2009.

It's now 2012, three years later.  And you know what?  I dried that rose and hung on to it for dear life.  I kept it in a cup or vase on our table or benchtop everywhere we have lived since.  That's four house-moves, or five if you count the two or three weeks just before the big day where I was out of my flat and staying at a friends until we were married.

I had even kept the roses that Roy gave me on the date that we had our first kiss.  Those ones weren't doing very well, most of the dried petals had fallen out so it was time to finally let them go a few months ago.

But this 'proposal rose' was not going anywhere.  It still looked perfect.  It had dried beautifully.  One leaf was still remaining, the red petals turned to a deep, burnt velvet colour.

For a long time I had been thinking of how I was going to keep it safe, away from danger.  One day it struck me - put it in a shadow box and hang it on the wall.

But not just any shadow box would do.  It had to be long enough to fit the whole length of the stem, and deep enough to not crush the bud.  I had it in my thoughts every week, what could I do, especially without spending much or any money on it.

I was sitting in our lounge when it clicked.  Upstairs, tucked away in my organised piles, I knew exactly where it was, I had a canvas which I had begun to paint a picture on.  It was nowhere near finished and, to be honest, I had lost the inspiration to finish it.  Alas, it was the perfect size for my rose.  Long and deep.  I just had to figure out how to make it into a shadow box.

Here's what I came up with after I found a stash of the right fabric in the closet.  I got out my staple gun, craft knife, needle and thread and got to work.

So the canvas was going to have bumble bees flying all over it, with smiley faces.

Cut the canvas off the frame, I cut it here so there would be minimal
fabric showing after it was all ripped off.

I sliced only on one side of the staples so there wouldn't be any left-over bits of canvas to fly around and make a mess.  The canvas ripped out quite easily.

You might find more staples, do the same, slice beside them but only on one side.

Bare frame, looking good.

Uh oh, the frame doesn't sit flush - never fear, it gets covered by the fabric.

Time to play around a bit.

Ok, so I didn't add any pics of how to attach the fabric... it was pretty complicated so I missed it out - an easier option would be to paint the frame and/or papier mache it first, that would fill in the gaps in the corners.  But, basically cut a strip that's wide enough to wrap all around the frame plus about 3 inches.  And cut it longer than the frame by about 3-4 inches too.  Staple it on the back first and wrap it through the center and around out-wards.  As it comes through, shuffle it around on the corners and fold it in here and there....

Sew the corner gaps with a simple running stitch.  Don't stop at the first corner, keep going all around to the back, then tie off the thread.

Finished fabricating... haha.

Remember the painted canvas - don't throw it out or damage it!  Probably should have mentioned that earlier.  I cut the edges off where it wrapped around the frame and cut it back about one inch all around.  Then, in pic above, you can see I've stapled it onto the BACK of the frame.   Staples are about 1.5 inches apart.

Little fingers.  Frame facing right-side-up.

A little trick to get the canvas tight and without any wobbles in it:  Spray the back (or in this case the front now) of the canvas with water, don't drench it, just a mist on it will do.  Hot water/steam is usually better but it all evaporates off anyway.  Leave it in a warm place to dry.  As it dries it will tighten up.  You can do this with any canvas in your home that might have dents in from being moved etc.

Screw in a couple of loops and tie some ribbon or string between them.  You don't need to make the ribbon loose, infact, it's better if the ribbon/string is firm, not extremely tight, but tight enough that it doesn't dangle loose on its own.

There is a small black 'mark' half way down the back of the photo above.  This is a small thread where I sewed the rose around the stem and through the canvas.  There are two 'ties' like this down the stem to hold it secure.

The finished product, ready to hang.

I don't want it to get dusty over time so, when I get around to it, I'll cover it entirely with clear cellophane.


  1. SUCH a good idea Holly! The finished product looks very profesh! Nice use of your organised piles! :)

  2. Awh that looks so awesome!! Such a good idea!! I'm really sentimental like that too... I like to keep all the flowers the bf gives me, along with weird things like movie tickets from the dates we go on and stuff :)

    1. Oh I totally understand - I do the same! Now that I have a baby, I've started collecting other things like his first ever plane-ticket, the brochure when he went to the zoo for the first time... etc. So cool!

      When my hubby gives me a card or something sweet on paper, I write the date on it too, an added extra dimension.

      Very cool :)

  3. Just a suggestion; maybe you could put glass over it.

    1. Hi Mel, thanks for your suggestion :)


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