Boxes of wonder

By Andrea Goodwill

Explore the curious intricacies of the natural world around you and make your own shadow box!

Don’t forget to share your box or post online and tag @natsatclub



Inspired by Joseph Cornell’s Shadow Boxes and 17th century Cabinets of Curiosities, this project will guide you through how to create your own box of wonder. Using recycled materials from around the house and garden along with your own drawings and studies, you will be left with a beautiful crafted shadow box that celebrates nature.




You may want to look outside and see if you can find any interesting items in your garden. Perhaps you will find an interesting stone or leaf? Or maybe there is an eye-catching flower? You can collect these or draw them to add to your box later.


  • Cardboard box
  • Paint
  • Magazines/newspapers
  • Card/paper
  • Twigs, leaves, feathers
  • Glue/tape
  • Scissors
  • Any pens, pencils, paints you have
  • Any other collage materials


Activity part one – The Box

  • Take your cardboard box and paint the whole thing any colour you want. If you don’t have any paint, you can cover the box in newspaper or magazine clippings.
  • Create a background for your scene. As you can see below, you can do this by putting together a collage of mixed media items. Why not try layering cut outs of your own drawings onto backgrounds found in magazines or newspapers?


Activity part two – Decoration

  • Using card and paper, draw or paint images from nature. This may include birds, butterflies, insects, leaves or you may have other ideas.
  • Once you have created a selection of images begin using twigs, string, or straws to assemble your composition in the box . Use the sides of the box and twigs to display some of the images to create depth in your composition. Glue or tape will hold your images in place.

Display your finished box when you are happy with the composition.


Thank you for taking part in the Northern School of Art Saturday Club Workshop.

Share your box or post online and tag @natsatclub

Contributed by Andrea Goodwill MBE, Northern School of Art Middlesborough Art&Design Saturday Club

Andrea is a Course Leader for Level 2 Art and Design and LAO  Saturday School. Her specialist area is in Textile and Fashion.


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