Display a pretty frond or flower in a dramatic shadowbox frame
Make a wall vase
Photo: Rob D. Brodman
Flowers or cuttings extend through the opening of a picture mat to create a 3-dimensional work of art.

Turn a shadow-box frame into a vessel for your favorite things from the garden or the florist.

Flowers or cuttings ― such as these leucadendron blooms ― extend through the opening of a picture mat to create a vibrant and organic work of art that truly has a third dimension.

Group two or three frames on the wall or use one for a tabletop display. Change the background and cuttings for a new look each season.

Shadow-box frames and mats can be found at home or art-supply stores; floral pin frogs (spiked metal disks to keep cuttings in place) are available at floral-supply and craft shops.

You can line the back of the box with colored paper or fabric, or simply let the color of your wall shine through. The project costs less than $20 per frame.


Each frame starts with a ready-made open-backed cube or shadow box deep enough to hold a small saucer. The measurements below are for the 10-by 10-in. cube shown below; adjust as needed to fit another cube size.

  • Picture mat with precut window (we used an 11- by 14-in. mat with a 3½- by 5½-in. window)
  • Wall cube or shadow box with mounting hardware (our cube, 10 by 10 in. and 6 in. deep, is from Target; $13)
  • Ruler
  • Box cutter or utility knife
  • Sturdy cardboard (optional; our piece was 11 by 17 in.)
  • Colored paper or fabric (optional)
  • Glue stick (if using paper or fabric)
  • Transparent tape
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Floral pin frog
  • Saucer deep enough to hold frog
  • Turkey baster for watering

Next: How to put your wall vase together 


1: Place mat facedown on work surface and center wall cube on it, face down. Use a pencil to trace the inside edge of cube on the mat. Cut mat to size with the ruler and box cutter, cutting along the outside of the penciled line so the mat will fit snugly into the cube.

2: If you want a background other than your wall, trace the opening of the cube on the cardboard and cut to size. Repeat with colored paper or fabric.

3: Use glue stick to attach paper or fabric to cardboard. Press covered cardboard into back of the cube, taping in place if necessary.

4: Determine wall location; using a level to ensure accuracy, prepare wall with nails or screws according to wall-cube hardware instructions.

5: Fit mat in cube so it is inset about ½ in. from front. If mat is a loose fit, gently reach into mat opening to tape to inside of frame.

6: Hang cube. Gently place saucer and frog in cube.

7: Use turkey baster to slowly fill two-thirds of saucer with water; position cuttings in frog through mat window.

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