Do you have a whole bunch of treasures gathering dust in the attic or hidden away in some cupboard? Then it’s time to show them off in this unique faux brick cut-out shadow box.
I love the way the bricks add another dimension to the shadow box and take it to a whole new level. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. That looks complicated and I don’t have the tools. But you’re wrong. You only need a few simple things to create something similar and you can find them all in your local craft store.
This tutorial will show you how to make your own unique shadow box in any size and line the back with faux bricks made from Styrofoam (polystyrene). I’ll also share various alternative materials you can use to create something similar.
What you need
For the shadow box
Our shadow box is 40 cm x 30 cm x 8 cm deep. Please adjust the measurements below to suit your needs.
- Scrap wood
- 2 x 40 cm x 8 cm
- 2 x 28 cm x 8 cm
- Wood glue and screws
- MDF or hardboard for the back
- Jigsaw and screwdriver
If you are not keen to make your own shadow box – buy one online. They come in all colors and styles, and there are a few sizes to choose from. You can also use a deep tray or a wooden crate.
For the faux bricks
If you are not keen to make your own faux bricks, use wallpaper or buy some fake bricks. You can also use a brick stencil to paint the bricks on. I wanted my shadow box to look like the real thing, with shadows, textures and things 😉 Almost as if we had deliberately framed exposed bricks on our wall to create a feature.
How to make the shadow box
We have loads of scrap wood in our stash, so I used that. Measure and cut your scrap wood according to the size you want your shadow box to be. Add a good amount of wood glue to the joins and screw the boards together using wood screws. Make sure to wipe off any excess glue before it dries and that the corners are 90 degrees.
Leave the box to dry before painting, staining, or sealing the outer frame to suit your décor. We love the look of natural, weathered wood, so I just applied a matt sealer to protect it, and that was it. Place the outer box frame on a piece of MDF or hardboard and trace around the edges, before cutting it out.
We’ll use the MDF board as a backing for our faux bricks, so don’t glue it onto the outer frame just yet. That will come later. We need to add the bricks first.
How to make faux bricks from polystyrene
Seriously this bit couldn’t be easier, and it’s a whole lot of fun too. Place the outer shadow box frame on top of the backing board and draw brick-ish shapes. I wanted my shadow box to look like an intentional frame around an exposed brick wall, so I added a small wall cutout on the right-hand side.
Remove the shadow box frame and put it to one side. Measure the “sketched bricks” and use a sharp craft knife to slice the polystyrene into appropriately sized blocks.
Use your fingernails to distress or break away the edges of the blocks slightly.
It gives the faux bricks a more organic look.
Adding texture to the bricks
Apply a layer of texture paste all over the bricks. You can make you’re own using this recipe and add some sand or use the stuff you find in most craft stores. The texture paste hardens the polystyrene and helps give it that brickish look. To make the wall portion, I used craft foam and texture paste.
Glue the faux bricks onto the MDF backing and mix up a batch of Plaster of Paris. Squish it in between the bricks to mimic the look of mortar. You can mix some craft paint into your Plaster of Paris to change the color if need be. Don’t worry too much if the Plaster of Paris messes onto the bricks. It adds to the finished look. If you’re adding a broken wall, as we did, glue it on after putting the Plaster of Paris between the bricks.
Wait for Plaster of Paris to dry before painting the bricks. You can apply the paint in two ways:
- Option 1, dry brush layers of paint on.
- Option 2, use a sponge and dab it in your paints, picking up a little bit of each color and then applying it to the faux bricks.
For a modern white-washed farmhouse look, use whites and greys. Or, if you prefer a more traditional brick look, then rusty reds and browns will work. I dry-brushed layers of white and different shades of grey on the faux bricks until I was happy with the look.
Once the paint dries, place the outer shadow box frame over the bricks and glue and screw the backing on.
Add some of your favorite mementoes, and you’re done.
I like layering the different bits and pieces so that the faux brick shadow box has more depth and intrigue. You can glue, pin or tack things to the bricks too.
And since the shadow box is quite wide, I can add something special on top too. Like this recycled “LOVE” photo holder we made a few years back.
If you like the idea of making your own custom-sized shadow box and adding faux bricks, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring 😉
Oh, and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more amazing craft ideas to share with you 😉
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY
And as always, here’s wishing you a beautiful crafty week filled with love and laughter. Thank you so much for popping in for a visit.