The graduation season is upon us. It may look and feel a bit different this year in parts of the country due to quarantine, but it’s still a massive accomplishment for the graduates and deserves celebration. In my Facebook group, I had a request for a graduation cap mandala. Well, this can’t be called a mandala, but I did come up with a fun layered Class of 2020 design that is perfect for a shadow box.
UPDATE: After multiple requests to add more years to the design, we’re now up to the Class of 2033. Yikes, that sure makes me feel old but will get everyone that is now Pre-K and up covered. 😊
HOW TO MAKE A LAYERED GRADUATION SHADOW BOX
Although the end project looks complicated, it’s relatively simple. Follow the below-outlined steps and video to see how I assembled the shadowbox.
MATERIALS NEEDED FOR LAYERED GRADUATION SHADOW BOX
- 65lb. Cardstock – I prefer the Recollections brand.
- Foam Tabs – These are my favorite. I’ve found they provide more depth between the layers. Also note, the Amazon photo shows the package includes 50 tabs. It’s really 464. There are 50 large pieces, and 414 small sizes.
- Square Shadow Box – For this project (pictured). I used an 8-inch square shadow box for the blue frame and a 9-inch square shadow box for the red project. Both frames I purchased from Michael’s.
- Light Grip Mat (blue)
- Cricut Maker – or cutting machine of your choice
DETERMINE THE CUT AND PAPER SIZE
To get started, you’ll need to measure the inside dimensions of your frame. For the pictured shadow boxes, I cut the blue design at 7.53 inches to fit the 8-inch shadow box. If using an 8-inch shadow box, you will be able to use 8.5×11″ paper.
For the 9-inch (red) shadow box, I set the project to cut at 8.53 inches. This project required the use of 12×12″ square paper.
Using a brayer when placing the card stock on will help keep the paper from ripping and also keeps oils from your hands being transferred to the material. I skipped this step when I first started working with my machine, not realizing that it does help. Cut all of the layers and set aside. Note: there will be two graduation caps.
REMOVE MAT FROM PAPER
One of the questions I most often receive from people on paper projects is how to get the paper off the mat without tearing it. I’ve found the most success by laying the mat upside down on my desk and slowly bending the cutting mat away from the paper. I frequently use my hand or a ruler to hold the paper in place.
Once all the cuts are complete and removed from the mat, you’re ready to start assembly. I started by adhering the two mortarboards together using Zots. Foam tabs would also work to provide height to the project.
Next, glue the tassel to the hat, making sure to take note of the right direction as the other layers. (The mortarboard is not symmetrical). To complete this step, attach the button using a foam tab and place it on top of the tassel string. My foam tab was almost the same size as the oval button, so I took a black marker and colored it so that the white wouldn’t show.
Add tabs between each of the layers. I’ve found it easiest to start working in reverse. Line up the project by removing the back of a few of the foam tabs, place them evenly, and then remove the remainder then adhere. The video (below) explains this process in more detail.
Continue to placing foam tabs between all the layers.
Once all the square layers are in place, the last step is to attach the graduation hat.
VIDEO TUTORIAL ASSEMBLING THE LAYERED GRADUATION SHADOW BOX
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DOWNLOAD THE LAYERED GRADUATION SHADOW BOX CUT FILE HERE
NEED A SHADOW BOX FRAME?
If you’re looking to make a frame for the shadow box out of card stock or kraft board, this link will take you to my free Shadow Box SVG (and a layered mandala too).
New to Cricut and need help on how to upload these designs to your Cricut machine? My How to Upload SVG Files In Cricut Design Space post will provide step by step directions how-to upload SVGs to Design Space.
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