Showcase Vacation Memories with a Travel Shadow Box
The beach was beautiful. The cabin was perfect. The kids almost behaved. You come home from vacation inspired and relaxed, your bags stuffed full of mementos: ticket stubs, tourist maps, seashells, and kitschy little souvenirs.
Then you shove all those mementos into a drawer and totally forget about them until your next decluttering expedition.
Travel memories are precious, and every memento you keep has the power to bring back those happy times on a rainy day. Display them in a colorful collage that transforms your tchotchkes into a framed work of art and a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
5 Steps to Create a Travel Shadow Box Collage
- Gather your mementos together so you can see what you’re working with.
Paper mementos are ideal for cutting up into a collage: maps, travel brochures, postcards, notes, itineraries, business cards, ticket stubs, flight coupons, take-out menus, and luggage tags. Even receipts and hotel stationary can be interesting sometimes.
Small souvenirs like keychains, magnets, candy, pins, pens, and cheap pieces of jewelry are perfect for shadow boxes. 3D elements really make your collage pop.
Don’t overlook found objects that made it into your suitcases, like bottle caps, matchboxes, foreign coins, wine corks, beads, pinecones, feathers, seashells, rocks, and beach sand.
Trip photos add personality and you can print them cheaply through Snapfish or Shutterfly.
- Buy a shadowbox frame and any missing elements.
Your pile of stuff will give you an idea about the size of frame you need. You may also want to buy little extras, such as stickers, ribbon, fabric, paint, scrapbooking paper, or miniatures. Be sure you have glue and a good pair of scissors.
- Start with a map.
For a travel collage, a map is an easy place to start. You can use it to plot your itinerary with a paint pen, rhinestones, or glitter glue. No souvenir map? Print one online, get an old atlas from a used book store, or find a pretty piece of fabric instead. Cut your backdrop down to fit the frame before you begin.
- Get creative and collage!
Start arranging all of your mementos on the shadow box backing paper until you come to a design that you’re happy with. This may take a while, so don’t glue anything down yet. Cut up paper mementos to get rid of boring white spaces and create a puzzle-like effect in your collage. Break things into parts or try them upside down. What do your souvenirs remind you of? A golden seashell could be the sun, a blue necklace could be a river, or bottle caps could be wheels on a tour bus.
- Glue it all down.
But first—snap a picture of your artful arrangement so that you won’t forget where everything goes when your work gets messy. Hot glue holds best for heavy items, but Elmer’s is more forgiving for first-timers who may want to rip pieces up and re-do. Use glue sticks or rubber cement for paper items, which may wrinkle with Elmer’s.
Remember: There are no rules with collage! Simply channel your inner Picasso—after all, he was the artist who coined the term “collage” in the early 20th century.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” ~ Picasso
Shilo Urban lives for adventure, loves dogs, and reads books like it’s going out of style (which it is). She writes about music, food, art, design, events, and travel – all the good stuff. Raised in the Fort Worth area, Shilo moved to Austin, Maine, Paris, Seattle, New Zealand, and Los Angeles before finding her way home a few years ago. Along the way, she has had over three dozen different jobs, including high school French teacher, record label manager, and farmhand for endangered livestock breeds. She’s traveled to more than 50 countries and always has the next trip planned. Shilo has been a freelance writer for over a decade and has published in Fort Worth Magazine, Fort Worth Weekly, and Afar. Her interests include lost civilizations, jalapeño peppers, and Game of Thrones. She is currently writing a thriller and lives in Fort Worth with her two wiener dogs, Steve and Lenny.