Fireman Shadowbox - Need help / Suggestions


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Mar 24, 2002
Clearfield, PA
Okay class - (and especially Jim Miller)

For today's assignment - We have a news photo of a customer's grandfather at work at a fire along with his helmet badge and a patch off his turn-out coat that we are planning to mat w/ Alphamat black suede and frame w/ Framamerica's black "boxer" frame -


It's not easy to see - but, the helmet badge is raised up about 1 1/2" - there are no holes in it to make attachment to the mat, and the clip that was on the back of the badge was broken off years ago.
I'm open for suggestions for attaching (no silicon - please)

The other patch off the turn-out coat is split in half, which is the way the customer wants to display it - only has two holes on each half and I don't think using an Attach EZ would be strong enough to hold it properly and I have never used Jim Miller's method of mylar encapsulation and since it is about 1/4" thick - I'm not sure using the mylar encapsulation method would work because of reflections and buckling of the mylar? We will be using museum glass as glazing for this shadowbox to minimize any reflections.

Any/all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Sorry - forgot to mention that the Badge & the Patch are both old dried-up leather and could crack under pressure (wouldn't we all :D ) - Sorry, it's been a typical Monday!

These items are over forty years old and are relatively fragile.
Sorry to sound mercenary but, what is your budget? is a great place to start.

You're using Boxer because the budget is low?
Yet you're talking Museum Glass.... the cost of the glazeing is more then the frame?

Are you sure silicon is out? How "Musuem" is the customer asking for?

What about leather cementing on a new leather substrata; much like re-lining an old canvas. It would give longevity to the exsisting leathers and you can attach sewing eyes to them before gluing them on. Now you have an unobtrusive way to attach, that is also helpful for the life of the artifacts...

If leather cement is to much, then try the idea of Nori. Rub in a good application to both sides first and let dry. Then apply the bonding layer.

Did they have his crossed nozzles (cannons) and badge? If it was long enough ago, then he may have had an ID fob that was always in thier pocket.
Great Ideas, Baer
The "boxer" style was the only one I had available in that particular depth - Our other shadowbox frames were 3" & 4" deep & the customer thought that they would "stick out" too far when hanging on the wall. He also liked the smooth, clean look of the "boxer" - I know there are several of you that don't like Framerica's line for one reason or another, but they can provide products to us that are relatively easy to use.

Regarding the gluing method - I was always of the opinion that when we frame something, it should be completely reversible - Even though these items have little $$ "value" the sentimental value is still there. When he brought these items in, they had been carefully wrapped in a cloth and he handled them w/ "reverence" and you could tell that they were very special.

Yes, cost is a factor - let's just say that the museum glass is an "upgrade" from one friend to another ;)
My first suggestion would be to use two 1/8" to 1/4" wide clear film (Melinex 516) straps on each piece, and slightly-undersized mount boards made of translucent Coroplast. Place the straps horizontally, just above and below the off-white numbers on each piece.

The translucent Coroplast would be inconspicuous -- if it is seen at all -- and would be inert, supportive, and long term stable. You could trim it to fit with scissors or an X-Acto knife, and the 3M #888 & #889 tapes stick very well to that surface. You could elevate the pieces off the background for 3-D effect, too.

In order to minimize stress on the dried-out leather chunks, it would be best to support them from beneath with stacked cuts of 4-ply board. Or, if it would be springy enough, spun polyester (polyfill) quilt batting.

As Framinista suggested, a Stabilitex wrapper would be my next choice -- and you might like it better. It is available in an off-white color that might disappear on the aged items.

Start with the same undersized mount boards described above, and simply wrap each piece in Stabilitex. Attach the tails of that fine-mesh fabric to the back of each mount board with acrylic medium. That is, paint the edges of the back of the board with acrylic medium first, and let it dry. Wrap, and activate the acrylic medium's bond with heat from your tacking iron.
I am seconding Jim's suggestion of Stabiltex. It will lend all over support to the patches, and no one area will be stressed to the point of cracking or breaking. It will virtually disappear once it is wrapped around the patches and it is magically reversible. Make sure you are aware of the price of the stuff taking into account any minimums in ordering. It is pricey.

I would be tempted to mount the patches on a support slightly larger than they are. That way no edge will overhang and be without support. I would use something as a backer that could be part of the overall design- say washed linen (would black be c/p?) wrapped around the outside bevelled edge of the mount. It could look very nice and tailored. You could even use a fillet use bassackwards around that border for more finish and definition.

Designwise, the patches side looks like it will end up taller than the photo side. Can you mount a title or plaque centered under the photo to give it more height? Even something simple like

" My grandfather,
Joe Fireman
DuBois, PA."

printed in a masculine font on crisp white or parchment colored paper mounted in a window in the suede mat will look very smart. A gold plaque engraved with info looks even better.

edie the hopingididntburnmylunch goddess
Edie -
You're a mind reader! Under the photo will be his name, station house (It's in NYC)
Stabiltex is something I have never used before and I need to check w/ UMS for pricing availability, etc.

While I have everyone's attention, does anybody have the phone number or website of a couple of wholesale suppliers of Coroplast?

Hi Mike,
Coroplast is available from LeWinter Moulding. You can reach them at 800 633-8886 or go to their web site:
They are in PA so it shouldn't be a problem getting you the product. Good luck with your project and we want to see the finished product !!!
Thanks everyone for their input!
(Including JPete - our resident mime :D )
I see I have some studing to do regarding the Stabiltex. I'll try to post photos when it's completed.
Sometimes even the mime forgets to look back after hitting the wrong button. Crepeline is another option although it is silk and not as strong as polyester Stabiltex. The poly would probably be the best and they are both about $40 a yard.