DIY Beach Specimen Shadow Box

Whenever I’m at the beach, I always find myself collecting specimen to take with me. Usually heart-shaped rocks and tiny shells — and sometimes plant life, too. I love the idea of using a shadow box to create a vignette to display in your home, and this summer I couldn’t wait to make one using the bits and pieces I knew I’d find at the beach. I loved using some colored embroidery thread to add a little uniqueness to this, as well.

What you need:

Beach specimen vignette

Craft supplies
Beach specimen such as shells, driftwood, and seaweed. If you won’t make it to the beach this summer, you can purchase most of these things at a craft store!
Shadow box frame (I got mine at a craft store)
Card stock
Embroidery thread and needle
Glue gun and hot glue

What you do:

First, cut your card stock so that it fits snugly in your shadow box frame. If you’re using embroidery thread like I did, flip the card stock over and add little dots or lines as a guide for where you’d like to place the thread.

Dotted paper

Dotted white paper

Use a needle and thread to embroider your card stock. I made tiny x-shapes and uneven lines. I wanted to keep this feeling irregular and raw.

Paper embroidery

Here’s what I ended up with:

Embroidered paper

Next, arrange your specimen on your card stock however you’d like. Play around with different placements until you find one that feels just right!

Beach shadow box DIY

Finally, glue your arrangement in place using hot glue, and insert the card stock into the shadow box. You’re all set!

Beach specimen shadow box

I really like the way this looks on a shelf alongside some other natural decor elements!

Beach shadow box


More DIY ideas from BLDG 25.

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10 years ago

I do the same! Every time I go to the beach I collect some shells or little rocks. My purses are full of specimen. Thanks for the idea. The shadow box looks very nice :)

10 years ago

I love this idea! Def need to give it a try.

10 years ago

This is great!
I have shells I brought back from Thailand and have trying to figure out a way to use them. This is awesone!

10 years ago

So cool and cheap to do ;) next time am at the beach will definitely try this as a keep sake.

10 years ago

So cool and unique way to keep sakes from holiday. Will try this next time I go in holiday

10 years ago

Love the embroidery on the card stock. It adds just the right amount of interest and texture around the border making it really unique. Good DIY!

10 years ago

how do u sepll embroidry

10 years ago

I love this idea! The embroidery adds a special touch too.

10 years ago

that looks so beautiful! i love it.

Zoe @GypsieSister xx

10 years ago

such a sweet & simple thing

10 years ago

Beautiful, I am excited to try it! (Just a heads up– it is illegal in the U.S. to pick up/collect bird feathers without a permit because of the Migratory Bird Act and Endangered Species Act. I, coincidentally, just learned that last week from an environmental conservation officer– I had no idea…) Thanks for the inspiration!

10 years ago

This is super neat for anyone who likes nature. It’s a great way to display treasures and memories.

I actually have a small picture display in my house using vases instead of frames, so I’m always looking for more neat display ideas. If you’re looking for any inspiration, check here:

10 years ago

I actually did this but with a slight twist. I added a piece of plexi glass to the front and some of the sand as well. It looked really nice with the embroidered card stock, shells, bit of driftwood and feathers. I really appreciate the idea, it was fantastic and easy to do, I just added the plexi glass because I have all these vials of sand as well, and this was a great way to use one of the larger ones.