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French Prints Shadowbox | Tips for Creating Your Own

Sunday, August 2, 2020

 A Paper Series Post 

Create a shadowbox with reproduction watercolor French prints to add an inexpensive French country look to any room in your house. By using prints collected during a trip with family or friends, your shadowbox will also remind you of special memories. 

Read about how I created a blue and white shadowbox to hang in my bedroom and get ideas for your own shadowbox. I have a few tips for finding small prints to use, for how to arrange the prints, and for using special items to add a little pizzazz! 

French Prints Shadowbox with Tips for Creating your own
Reproduction watercolor prints in soft blues, greens, and neutrals go well with most French country decor. 

F R E N C H   P R I N T S   S H A D O W B O X

t i p s   f o r   c r e a t i n g   y o u r   o w n 

TIP# 1  Luxurious Background Fabric 

⚜ Pull out the color from the print designs that goes best with your home's colors by using a beautiful fabric as the background color in the shadowbox. Blue, green, grey, or taupe are the best background color options for this set of prints. 

French Country Design 
takes an everyday object 
from the ordinary to extraordinary 
by enhancing its original state. 

The background in most shadowboxes is nice, but usually rather bland. Give your shadowbox special pizzazz by changing the background with a special fabric. 

French Prints Shadowbox is elevated to the extraordinary by using a beautiful silk fabric as its background
⚜ Since soft periwinkle blue is the color of the walls throughout my home, I chose a beautiful textured silk fabric to line the back of the shadowbox in my bedroom. Textured natural linen is another wonderful fabric often used in French country designs that would work as a background fabric for shadowboxes. 

Blue silk fabric elevates a bland white shadowbox into a classic color combination of blue and white
The blue silk fabric elevates a nondescript, neutral white shadowbox into a classic color combination of blue and white.

TIP# 2  How to Arrange the Prints

⚜ Use a variety of print sizes and shapes to give a collection of prints more interest. Mix horizontal scenes with vertical scenes, rectangles with squares, large with small ..., but keep all of the prints in the same theme.

 How to arrange prints in a shadowbox includes balancing the amount of background color with the prints

⚜ All of the prints used in my shadowbox are of French architecture. Fountains, lanterns, bridges, and building façades illustrate classical French style seen throughout the center of old Paris. The smallest print is of Château de Chambord, the former hunting lodge of French kings located in the Loire Valley

⚜ Lay your prints on the shadowbox to arrange and rearrange before attaching them to the backboard. 

⚜ Start by placing your two largest prints in the upper left and lower right corners as shown. Add a horizontal print in the upper right corner, allowing the colored fabric to show through above and below the horizontal print. 

⚜ The goal is to balance the amount of the background fabric and the watercolor prints seen. Notice the border width of the blue fabric shown in the upper right corner and lower left corner appears to be the same width.

Another layout technique for arranging prints in a shadowbox is to layer the prints

⚜ Another layout technique is to layer the prints so they overlap one another. The smallest print of the château in the center overlaps both the upper left and lower right large prints about the same amount. The upper right horizontal print's left edge lies underneath the upper left print. The two small rectangular prints overlap the lower right large square print. 

TIP# 3  Where to Find Reproduction French Prints 

Tourist offices, museum gift shops, tourist guidebooks, postcard stands, and Etsy shops are sources for small reproduction prints

⚜ Office de Tourisme in Paris is where all but one of these beautiful watercolor reproductions were found several years ago. The larger prints are cards and the two small rectangular ones are book markers.  

⚜ Tourist guidebooks often contain beautiful photos, and are often free in tourist offices. 

⚜ Postcards are another source for beautiful prints. Postcards can be found throughout France with some of the most beautiful watercolor-style prints for sale in gift shops attached to museums. Gift shops in both the official Louvre gift shop and the gift shops in the shopping arcade attached to the lower level of the Louvre offer stunning postcards.  

⚜ Not traveling to France anytime soon? Try looking online for postcards at the official websites of French museums and national monuments. Another online source to look for reproduction French prints is Etsy shops. Some Etsy shops offer digital versions of prints that can be downloaded immediately to be printed on your computer. 

⚜ The small Château de Chambord card came from a gift shop on the grounds of the château. 

⚜ Special Note: The main tourist office in Paris is located at 29, rue de Rivoli Paris 4th where all services, including bookings and tickets, are available. The smaller tourist office found in the shopping arcade of the Louvre is temporarily closed during the summer of 2020. Not that any Americans can travel to France right now since most of Europe is closed to Americans due to the corona virus. 

TIP# 4  Add More Pizzazz !

Add pizzazz to a shadowbox by using 3-D gold Eiffel tower, fleur de lis, and bee tacks tacks
⚜ Gold colored tacks attach my prints to the backboard of my shadowbox. But, not just any gold colored tacks. Three-dimensional Eiffel Tower, Fleur de Lis, and Bee tacks are another way to take the ordinary to extraordinary. All three designs are recognized French symbols and add extra pizzazz to the shadowbox. These came from Ballard Designs several years ago. 

⚜ The tacks are placed to support the cards, but are not punched through the cards. It takes a few more tacks to attach cards this way, but the advantage is the cards can be removed to send without any holes. 

TIP# 5  Add a Small Figurine 

Add a small handmade clay figurine to the top of a shadowbox
⚜ A small handmade clay figurine in coordinating colors of blue and natural sits atop the shadowbox. 

A handmade clay figurine is of three young French girls dressed in vintage clothing
⚜ Delightful, three young French girls are playing together, dressed in vintage dresses and pantaloons with blue scarves that reflect French children of years gone by. Found at a small shop in the medieval walled city of Carcassonne, France, the figurine reminds me of traveling to France with two good friends with whom I taught. We laughed, played, shopped, and marveled at all of France while chaperoning students on several trips.

A French Prints Shadowbox hangs above a small antique chest of drawers
The blue and white shadowbox of French prints hangs above a small antique French chest of drawers.  

Layer shadowboxes atop a French antique chest of drawers
The shadowbox with reproduction French watercolor prints adds French Country style to any room in the house. Layered with another shadowbox with a French Country quote and a small photo shadowbox with a family photo, the three boxes add a highly personal touch to my master bedroom.