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SHADOWBOX STORIES
My friend Carol posted about her successful crafty day event that she organized and hosted this weekend for the AWC and in the one of the photos she was standing in front of a shadowbox and I told her I wanted her to show closeups of it so I could see what she had in HER shadowbox.

I've been a fan of shadowboxes for years, since I was a pre-teen in fact, because somewhere I saw someone use an old printer's drawer for a shadowbox and I thought that was just the height of cool interior decorating (I was twelve, but it hasn't gone away, really). Because I've always had a soft spot for small stuff (despite never having had a dollhouse), a shadowbox is the perfect place to put the little things that would otherwise get stashed somewhere and forgotten. What I especially like about the stuff in my shadowboxes is that they are a record of all the places I have been in my life.

I have two on the walls of our bedroom: a large one that is made from an actual printer's drawer, and a small one that LOOKS like a printer's drawer but is really just a reproduction. I bought the big one in a junk market in Amsterdam when I was a teenager, along with a pair of white harem pants and a blue shawl interwoven with silver thread, both of which questionable sartorial choices are long gone.

The kids love the shadowboxes too and a favorite cuddle activity is for the 3 of us to lie in our big bed, while they ask me about the items and objects on the wall and I tell their small stories. Of course, the main thing I notice immediately about the photos below is that the worst thing about shadowboxes is that no one ever DUSTS THEM. They're a pain to dust, and way too easy to skip over because, after all, they're in my bedroom and no one but my family ever sees them. But geez louise, now I'm posting my damned dusty stuff on the internet for people to shake their heads over. And I vacuumed and cleaned today! But did I dust? No, I did not:



For a really good look at evidence of Lizardek's poor housekeeping habits, click here for THE DUST a close up of the top half and a close up of the bottom half.

From left to right, top to bottom*
  • The ceramic dragon was purchased at a renaissance fair outside of Chicago
  • The little wooden horse was discovered in the basement of my grandmother Slaughter's house after her death
  • The ceramic bird was a souvenir of our trip to Spain when I was a teenager
  • The tiny teddy bear is one of several Hagen-Renaker porcelain animals that my sister and I collected when we were children. We gave them names and families and built houses and little towns for them.
  • Swarovski bird, a birthday gift from my parents when we lived in Europe
  • This little glass jar with a ball lid was given to me by Anders after a business trip to Shanghai. It's painted with a landscape in 3 colors on both sides ON THE INSIDE OF THE JAR, and the artist personalized it, at my husband's request with the words "To Liz, Love Anders" in letters so small you can barely read them, again ON THE INSIDE OF THE JAR.
  • Stone bird I bought somewhere but alas, can't remember where now
  • The two little dowel dolls were gifts to my mother when she was in school from a Japanese (Chinese?) pen pal
  • The big silver key is from my bedroom door of our house in Belgium where we lived from 1976 to 1979
  • Glass devil bought in Venice. I designed him onto the sweatshirts we printed for our dorm floor my sophomore year at Michigan State.
  • Wooden gnome from Germany
  • Giant diaper pin - no idea where this is from, did not use it on my children
  • Silver spoon souvenir from AFCENT, the international high school I attended in Holland for 7th-9th grades
  • Dancing wooden bear was one of a set in an antique store according to the dealer. He only had this one and I couldn't leave without it. Wish very much I had the whole set!
  • Wooden reindeer Christmas tree ornament from Germany
  • The tiny turtle is made from a nut of some kind and sits on a magnet: his legs and heads all wiggle freely
  • Wooden squirrel from Germany
  • Jar of marijuana seeds purchased on a choir trip to Berlin in the late 70s (they were dried even then). The label on the jar says "Geldsamen" which means money seeds.
  • 2 of 3 super miniature glass birds, bought in Venice during the same choir trip where I acquired the devil above and several other glass figurines. The other one is at the end of this row next to the little plaque.
  • Wee glass dragon under the stone elephant was just purchased in Germany this summer at an art & pottery market we went to with my brother. I don't remember where I got the elephant.
  • The plaque reads: "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."
  • Another of the little porcelain animals; behind him is a tiny tiny pine cone I picked up while walking in the woods many years ago
  • Half a duck
  • Mini coke bottle, probably purchased from a dollhouse collection, and a porcelain mouse
  • The purple bear is made out of some kind of plasticine and was made and given to me by a teacher in high school. He's missing an ear, lost in one of my many moves
  • The smallest dala horse in the world!!
  • Swarovski rabbit, also a gift from my parents
  • Miniature clay elephant
  • Twin brass mice purchased at a jeweler's shop. They were damned expensive but I had to have them; they're wee little works of art.
*If something isn't mentioned, it's because there wasn't any particular or special story connected with it or the origin has been forgotten.
 relaxed
mood: relaxed
music: Paolo Nutini—New Shoes


Comments
(Anonymous)

Okay....... the name is Hagen Renaker and they have a website to locate a dealer but not to buy. Their available collection is WAY smaller than it used to be and I have noticed it disapeared from the usual vendors in the last 5 years or so.

I also own a pair of the pen pal dolls, (chinese I think) and the wooden squirrel and the pig and the mouse. So there is something else you can tell your kids. :)

I have a shadow box as well but my daughter comandeered it a couple years ago.
Seester

thanks!! That is what the phone call was for :) I tried to google the animals but came up only with a bunch of other brands that I'd never heard of (and one that was lovely from Russia).

My sister-in-law in Huddinge has a small shadow box full of fascinating tiny things that she has collected in her travels over the years and I really love looking at all of her goodies. Like your shadowbox, each of her items has a little story attached to them. I'll try and get a picture of it when I visit her next time.

Perhaps you could incorporate the dust bunnies into the collection :)

Excellent idea! Mini dust bunnies would (and do!) fit right in!

(Anonymous)
Carol's box

I'll post a photo of mine this week for you....it is ALMOST as dusty as yours...I have another shadow box but since my move to Sweden I haven't put it up again..I also have a special love of small things especially ones that bring back fond memories of people, places or events in my life. I should really unpack the other box, I know where it is, and last I looked at it everything was just as small and cherished as before I moved. So, in other words, even though I haven't "used" them in many years, I ain't getting rid of the sweet little things!

I'm copying your idea...I will list all the items and write about them...a good memory keeper for my kid! (and answer "Why the hell did mommy keep this?") I LOVE that you and your kids talk about the things! Maya has asked me about them but she's still a little small yet to really understand.

Will you show us your other one? Please!

Carol in Sweden

Re: Carol's box

Heh! I was thinking about it (would have to 3 separate posts because it's a BIG box), but I didn't get many responses to this one, so am not sure about the appeal...I will probably go ahead and do them at some point in the near future, simply to have the record for my children, as you say ;)

(Anonymous)

I love looking at your shadowbox. You know just looking at it, you only see things. but when you describe them and tell where they came from, the circumstances, etc. they become "alive"- I love that! My two faves are the wooden bear and the plaque about making your own path...oh, also love the horse found at your grandmother's house!

Kathryn

I know! That's what is so cool about it for me...I don't see dusty THINGS when I look at it. I see places and people and events and vacations and stories :)

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