The other day, I saw a small shadow box at Homegoods. It was about 8 inches square (they had larger sizes, too, but the smallest one suited my purposes) and came in two finishes -- crackle white, and distressed grey. I didn't care for the crackle, and it would have left a texture to paint over without extensive sanding; the grey would be immediately paintable.
I brought it home and dug out a 12x12" sheet of Wonder Woman scrapbook paper I bought years ago and never knew what I was going to do with it. Apparently, I bought it for this. :) The somewhat subdued colors of the paper look great with the grey frame... which I promptly decided not to paint, since they looked so good together.
The tricky part was getting the back off. It was nailed on with tiny tacks, down too deep in the fiberboard to pull, so I ended up carefully pushing the back off. This left the tacks above the surface of the lip of the frame and I knew getting them to line up would be a pain. Instead, I used a screwdriver as a nail sink, and tapped them down with a hammer.
I had to sand the back a little, because in addition to the tacks, there was also some glue. The backing board is 8" square; I cut my paper 7 3/4" square after I made sure that would cover all the backing visible from the front. I used a permanent glue stick (not too wet, but plenty sticky!) and smoothed the paper down with a credit card. I hit some of the dried glue inside the lip of the frame with sandpaper, dusted it off, and put a thin bead of Tacky Glue all around the lip. The backing board went on next, pressing firmly to seat it in places, and to ensure good contact with the glue.
And here's what it looks like finished:
|looking down into the shadow box; it's about 1 1/2" deep|
Sorry; I forgot to take pics "in progress," but I hope you can follow along with my process. This was super simple, and a really quick project.
Some of you might be looking at that and thinking, "wow, that's a really busy background, the figure sort of gets lost." And you may be right. Even though the colors of the frame and background are not really bright, it's a patterned background for a small object. I am considering going through some of the old comics and finding a suitable speech bubble to cut out and put near her head, and mat it on white to give it some definition. Others of you might be thinking, "of all the action figures, you chose that one?" Yep! Because she was my first. Plus, she gets totally lost on the shelf with the other Wonder Woman figures (she's only 5" tall with her arm raised)
This idea would work for maybe a trio of small figures (GI Joe-sized) or a pair of larger ones, assuming they don't need more than 1 1/2" deep to stand in. You could showcase some of your favorite smaller figures this way. I say "favorite" because the shadow box was $15 -- expensive if you plan to put all your figs on display this way. And you don't have to go all out like I did and change the backing, you could leave it plain, paint it a different color, or paint an actual background if you're artistic.
If you try it for yourself, I'd love to see the results!