Creating an Annalee Shadowbox


Roll up your sleeves and clear off the table, it’s time to create a shadowbox with Annalee dolls. Anyone can put together their own shadowbox arrangement with a little imagination and a few odds and ends.

Shadowboxes are easy and fun to make and add a bit of personalized warmth to your decor. Think of using shadowboxes to tell a story. You’re creating a scene that includes one or more dolls and pairing them with a background and other pieces. You can create one box or several depending on what you’d like to display and incorporate into your boxes. 

Shadowboxes are versatile. You can add them to tables, desks, counters, or walls. They also are great activity to work on with the kids or grandkids. You can even create special shadowboxes for a child’s room or as a special keepsake gift.

Let’s Get Creative

Using the materials listed below as a guide, you’ll find many ways to improvise or substitute items to fit your needs. Shadowboxes are easily purchased at craft stores or online. But we’ve even given instructions on how to build your own. If you don’t need anything fancy, you can even use a packing box or crate from one of your latest purchases. 

Annalee’s husband, Chip Thorndike, had a favorite saying: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” He was a firm believer in reusing items and reimagining them. That’s perfect advice when looking for items to include in your shadowbox. If you wish, you can recycle old magazine images, calendars, wrapping paper, or greeting cards to create a background scene in your box. Or add photos from your personal collection. You can create collages by gluing different images together. There’s an endless supply of views you can create for your shadowbox background.Once you have your background ready, glue it to the back of the box.

Now the really fun part begins: positioning your Annalee dolls in and around the box.

Consider how the dolls and other items will work together. What type of scene do you want to create? What other accessories do you need to complete your scene? If you’ve added a background image, how will it work with the dolls and accessories?

Shadowbox Ideas

In the pictures accompanying this article, we’ve created two very different styles of shadowboxes. One highlights spring dolls, flowers, and themes in a multi-component box. The second  box features a beach scene incorporating Annalee Seaside Wannabes. But those are just two ideas. We encourage you to get creative and incorporate your favorite dolls in a design that matches your personal style.

Some other suggestions: Put together a garden shadowbox by incorporating a background image of flowers. You could place a duck doll with a bird bath in your garden. Or a couple strolling through the garden.

Maybe you’d like to create a shadowbox with a water view. (Annalee was greatly inspired by Lake Winnipesaukee for many of her designs). Try placing a frog, duck, or some playful sunbathing dolls on a dock for your scene. You also can add silk flowers, small stones, grasses, or other objects depending on the theme of your box. You also could change out your background for the seasons. The opportunities to be creative are endless.

When placing your dolls in the box, always remember to create a mid-ground or focal point with your dolls and accessories to make the scene authentic. Place dolls on the bottom side of the box (unless you really want something different). You can also create a foreground with items outside and in front of your box if you place it on a table.

A grass mat, colored papers or cloth, or other materials placed on the bottom of your box adds to the scene visually. Have fun exploring the possibilities. We know your shadowbox will make you smile. Most of all, don’t forget to send us a picture of your shadowbox.

Materials you may need:

  • Annalee dolls (as many as you want, of course)
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Silk flowers
  • Grass mat, colored cloth or paper, or other flooring materials
  • Natural objects (greenery, stones, twigs)
  • Pictures for your background
  • Accessories for your scene

How to Build a Shadowbox

Materials needed:

  • Pine wood strips
  • Plywood
  • Saw
  • Glue
  • ¾-inch brads or nails
  • Paint brush
  • Paint or stain
  1. Cut two lengths of wood 10 ¾ inches long by 4 inches wide.
  2. Cut two lengths of wood 8 ¾ inches long by 4 inches wide.
  3. Glue the wood lengths together to create a rectangular frame.
  4. Reinforce the corners with brads or nails
  5. Measure a piece of plywood wood and cut to 10 ¾ by 8 ¾ inches to fit the back.
  6. Glue the backing piece to the rectangular frame and reinforce with brads or nails.
  7. Stain or paint the wood in your chosen color.
  8. Let dry completely before placing items in the shadowbox.

Shadowbox Worthy Designs

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