Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box

What do you get a Mom who has reached an 80th milestone? That’s a rhetorical question of course, but if you’re crafty and love to upcycle, like me, you make a little something at the very least!

Earlier in the summer, we were at a massive street sale –  held in the golden triangle in downtown Toronto – when I came across this bag of scrabble tiles:

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I didn’t have a clue what I’d ever need them for – but I never do when the urge hits to buy something for the craft stash! Inspiration almost always hits later.  I often find that when I fail to purchase an item I spy it’s always a regret. Luckily I purchased the bag of tiles, because Mom’s birthday eventually provided the inspiration 🙂

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

In lieu of making a birthday card, I’m  embellishing the envelope instead and putting it into this shadowbox as a keepsake for Mom.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Gather your Items

For this quick and easy shadowbox project, you’ll need:

  • Shadow box
  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word
  • Printer
  • Ruler
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scrabble letters
  • Envelope (purchased with the birthday card)
  • 2 weights (I used my vintage irons)

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

It’s fairly easy to design and print an envelope with a home printer and Microsoft Word; it just requires a bit of customization for the margins and page setup. (I still use the old Word 2003).

For the page setup, I measured the size of the envelope ( I included the height of the opened flap). In word (file/page setup) I clicked on the paper tab and typed in the measurements for the width and height. Envelopes have to be fed through the rear paper slot of your printer since they are a custom size, so don’t forget to change the paper source to ‘rear paper feed slot‘ while you’re at it.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Next, set the margins. The envelope flap I was 2.5″ high so I set my top margin to 2.5″ so nothing could print above that margin (represented by the dotted line shown below). I then set the rest of the margin settings to .12.

Once the settings are done, go ahead and type/format the message. Choose a size and style of font that looks good to you (I used Aardvark). I designed my envelope in black and white, but you could choose to do yours in colour if you prefer.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Insert the envelope into the rear feed slot: be mindful of which end goes in first and whether the paper needs to face up or down. For my Epson printer, the flap went in first and the paper was face up.

Click on print, then choose properties. Choose ‘envelope’ for paper type and select rear paper feed slot as the paper source (sometimes you have to change it here too).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Here’s the printed envelope:

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Now for the finishing touch – the scrabble tiles; place a ruler over the envelope to act as a straight edge where you want to place them. I used antique irons as weights on either end to keep the ruler from shifting as I worked.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I centred the word ‘eighty’ and spaced out each letter leaving 1/4″ gape between letters (I ended up with 3/4″ on either end).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

I lifted each tile and placed a piece of clear double-sided tape on the back, then pressed it into place on the envelope.

Note that not all scrabble tiles are made alike; some of them have a nice varnished finish and others are still pretty rough. I would suggest using a stronger double-sided tape than the one I used if your tiles are raw wood (I couldn’t find my better roll of tape and Mom’s birthday is tomorrow)! I was able to make it work because I chose tiles that were varnished and the flimsier tape gripped perfectly to them.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Here’s the finished envelope.

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

The shadow box I used has a magnetic catch so I just popped it in and fastened it to the background with the pins provided. Mom can just reach in and grab the envelope to open it up and read the card (leave the flap unsealed if you don’t want Mom to accidentally tear your hard work).

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Mom has always loved puzzles and word games, but we’ve never actually played a game of scrabble with her. Maybe once the season changes, we’ll settle in for a game or too 🙂

Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box | Birdz of a Feather

Don’t forget to pin and share 🙂

By the way, this idea would work for any milestone birthday and could easily be adapted for anyone – like the ’50’ example below!

If you have parents that have reached a milestone birthday, I’d love to hear how you celebrated them. Let me know in the comments.

Other projects we’ve done for Mom include the renovation of her bathroom

Maximizing Bathroom Space | Birdz of a Feather

and this bathroom vanity makeover….

Bathroom Vanity Makeover | Birdz of a Feather

Subscribe to Birdz of a Feather for more creative and sustainable craft projects (link to Bloglovin’ below the post or direct link in the footer).

Here’s some links to a few things you may have missed under the Craft Rehab category (pictured below):

Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab. Sustainable craft and upcycle ideas

You’ll find home and garden DIY ideas on the home page too.

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7 thoughts on “Mom Turns 80! Make Her a Shadow Box

    • Thanks Alys – Mom loved it too but then the next day she couldn’t remember who had given it to her. So sad what aging does to the memory 🙁

    • This idea could be used in so many different ways; I love it. Of course I love Scrabble also, and hope that I can find someone selling a bag of the tiles. I would never destroy one of my 3 sets.

      As for memory loss, I’m sure that some days are better and the mind is sharper too.

    • Thanks Valerie; it’s a fun and easy project – and appropriate to any age too! I just did another one for a 50th birthday milestone 🙂

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