"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Decorating Little Cubbies Inside a Christmas Shadowbox

Have you ever worked in miniature? As easy as it sounds to create in the world of smalls, it's actually very challenging and stretches your creative energy. Maybe that's why I love it!

This past summer, I bought these two shadowbox houses on Ebay. The first was made into a Halloween-themed diorama. I knew the other needed to be made for Christmas.

I'd say 95% of these cubbies are decorated using vintage miniatures and accessories. There's just something about combining old trinkets to make new art pieces that draws me in.

This teeny weeny Nativity scene uses glittered black scrapbook paper for the sky and an old rhinestone as the Star of Bethlehem. It even has "sand" which is a textured gel that I mix sand-colored paint in and let set.

Old images, especially of young children, always catch my eye.

I changed the bottle brush tree from the typical green to a shabby chic pink, decorated in little pastel balls. In the background is a piece of bottlecap art my kids and I worked on. This cap holds an image of Rudolph taken from a 1950s Christmas Golden Book.

Looks like Mrs. Claus is about to give old Santa a kiss goodbye before he packs up his sleigh.

This cubby is lined with old jewelry to give it an icy feel. In the background is a picture of an old stone mill in white, I used as my inspiration. I added fake snow and two black and white pictures of little girls from the 1940s. They're actually my Dad's sisters when they were little girls. I love the simplicity of this cubby.

This is an antique spool I carved into a Santa's face. I added the flower just to soften the look.

The background here is old Christmas sheet music, vintage flowers and snowman singing Christmas carols.

This little wide-eyed elf sits on top of a Christmas present and holds a candy cane in his arms. Two large candy canes arch over this cubby and more flowers for added texture. I just love lots of different textures!

A snowman and woman iceskating. Little fingers got to this one. When I went to bed that night, they were on opposite sides of each other. Looks like my son liked them better this way.

In this back of this Santa and reindeer are old plastic trees actually taken from a train set. I just cut them down to fit the size. Another bottlecap decoration, this time with a 1950 Frosty the Snowman smiling inside.

On the far right and left corners of this shadowbox are little angels, acting as if they're guardians in this little world. This cubby holds a tiny house with Santa and his reindeer flying overhead. I added a tiny bottlebrush tree I had actually dyed purple. Although the color didn't seem to fit in with the Christmas theme, the size was perfect and sometimes ya just need to do something out of the ordinary.

On the far bottom right are two elves sitting under two game pieces (I forget what it's called). I found the numbers 25 and in green, so it was a perfect complement to the diorama.

While I was taking pictures of this, my parents surprised me by stopping over. This shadowbox is now on its way to my aunt's house (the older of the little girl's in the white cubby).

As an artist, keeping in balance is a priority. Sure, I love it when something I make sells. And swapping can be very exciting. There are times I just can't part with something and keep it for myself, hoping to pass it down to my children. But other times, I just need to give it away. Hope Aunt Kathleen likes it.


  1. Jill, this is just adorable!! I love coming by to visit, and see all the great goodies you create! I might just have to make one of these. Love it! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.


  2. I'm sure your Aunt will appreciate all the time and creative energy you put into your special cubbie. I love all the details. I haven't had a chance to start working on my daughter's dollhouse (which is a Christmas present). I'm nervous about the wallpaper. You are inspiring me to get moving.

  3. I love it! I really think vintage treasures make things much more festive and fun!


  4. This a great story, with great pictures. And interestingly enough, it was the cubby with the pic of your aunt that I liked the best. It is ethereal and reminded me of some of my family pictures. Your aunt will be thrilled. Is it a Christmas present to her? I love your work Jill. You are so talented. Patsye

  5. Hi Jill!Merry Christmas and God bless.I enjoyed the tour of your Christmas cubby holes.I always see much of my childhood memories in those darling thrift objects.Denise

  6. Aw Jill you did it!! And you rocked it out too!! You are such a loving and giving person!! I feel so blessed to know you!!! I bet your Aunt crys!! How sweet the picture is!! Hope your doin good. Talk to ya later!! XO Love ya, Aunt Frannie

  7. Once upon a time there were two little girls that crafted and played at art and they created such fun for the world to behold. One lived east and one lived out west but no space, no road, no star could ever seperate them.

    She was Jack and she was Jill and they are pals for sure!

    Who could ever pick a favorite cubby out of the bunch but if I close my eyes and try to pick, the little one with the two sisters comes shinning through like a bright star.

    Joining hands with you, cuz I love you. Thankful you are my friend.

  8. Oh these are so sweet! I love all the precious vintage treasures filling these spaces. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love your shadow boxes. I am wondering if they are available undecorated. Our home was destroyed in the May 20 OK tornado and much of the contents. One item was a Christmas shadow box much like this. If you know a source to replace this I would love a reply from you.