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Entomology Shadow Boxes

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Wiki-Knowledge-article-iconAbout a year or so ago we began experiencing a renewed entomology-wooden-shadow-boxinterest and higher sales in our lovely wooden shadow box frames, and it wasn't until we started chatting with Customers that we learned that our increased sales were due to the new, local trend, and subsequent demand for,  Entomology Shadow Boxes!  And what are these exactly, you might say?  Well, frames for bugs, or to display insects, invertebrates and even small creatures.  It seems that this new craze is all about Customers wanting to buy 3-dimensional frames inside which are mounted spiders, scorpions butterflies, beetles, moths,  grasshoppers, dragonflies, cicadas, leaf insects, stick insects, water bugs, weevils, praying mantises, wasps , crickets, caterpillars, flies and even cockroaches, just to name the ones we know of or have been told about.

We have no idea who, what, where, or when this current craze started but Customers want them and so we are stocking all the smaller wooden shadow box size. For some reason, insects seem to be framed in the more formal black rather than the  more informal white.  Insects come in all shapes, some being quite large, others quite small.

The world's biggest insect seems to be the 70 million years old, Little Barrier Island Giant Wētā in New Zealand,  of the Orthoptera order (grasshoppers and crickets), being an unique biological cross between a cricket and a cockroach with the longest recorded specimen being 11 cm  long (including the ovipositor in the female), a legspan of 17.5 cm  and weighing 71 grammes.

Now then to stick ( well, mount actually)  one of these guys in a three-dimensional frame, or even better, a shadow box frame, one would need at least one of our 20 x25 cm black shadow boxes, as shown below:


To effectively showcase insects, black shadow boxes are not de riguer. Our white wooden shadow boxes also do the job splendidly.  For instance, below is an ( enlarged )  Fortumii Jewel Beetle beautifully displayed in one of our 30×30 cm White Wood Square Frame & Shadow Box  with clear glass:


Let it not be said that black and white are the only shadow box frame colours that these little winged creatures can be framed in! Below is a well-known ichtyological sea denizen showcased in a 15×20 cm Natural Wood Shadow Box Frame with clear glass:


When shadow-box framing these little critters it is important to note their height, girth, or overall  thickness, because some are taller and bigger than others.  The deepest shadow boxes we stock  are 2.8 cm deep, while the 3-Dimensional Wood Box Frames are only 1.5 cm deep, the depth being  the distance between  the glass and the backing.

While on the subject of shadow box and 3-dimensional frames spaces, or cavities, it will be worthwhile reviewing the components of a typical  shadow box frame such as  the 20x20 cm opening, black wooden shadow box below:


1) Shadow Box Frame.  These types of frames nearly always tend to be of the box frame type where the height of a moulding ( or frame ) is always greater than its width.

2)  Glass pane. Nearly always made from clear float glass and always sits on top of the window mat.

3) Window mat. This is the bit of cardboard with a square or rectangular hole, or opening, which showcases the art being mounted, or fixed onto the mounting board.

4) Mounted art. The illustration shows the mounting of several 3-dimensional figurines which, in the tenor of this post,  could also be one or more large insects.

5) Spacer.  This the component that creates the space between the window mat and the backing , typically between s.5 and 2.8 cm.

6) Mountboard.  As the name implies, the piece of board, into and onto which, 3-dimensional objects, or insects for that matter, may be pinned, stuck or glues so that they won't fall off.

7) Backing.  A piece of board, usually an  MDF or Craftwood sheet that holds everything in place so that the assembly won't fall out of the shadow box frame.

An important difference between shadow box frames, Entomology Shadow Boxes,  and 3-dimensional box frames is their respective prices with the former being  around 50% more expensive than the latter. This is mainly due to the shadow boxes being bigger, bulkier and costing more to manufacture, transport and ship than the smaller, 3-dimensional frames.

The cost of a frame is important both as a  pricing and a profit factor for those Customers buying in bulk or small businesses who onsell the frames to their own clientele.  For Customers who purchase for their own, or personal,  use,  the cost is not as important, and they generally tend to buy the better and more expensive shadow box frames.

Pertinent to this topic of cost, we are asked form time to time to either customize the ready-made, shadow box frames that we have online, or to quote for fully customized, or bespoke, ones.  Regrettably we have to decline on both counts.

On the first count, that of customizing, or modifying, off-the-shelf frames, or Entomology Shadow Boxes, we need to decline because it is simply impossible to get the mat colours, openings, heights and sizes correctly by email.  We find that most Customers are not familiar with clearances, allowances or exact measurements to the millimitre.  The probabilities of mis-communications, mis-interpretations and errors are simply too great and rather than displease and dispute with Customers we opt not to offer this specific service.

The second count is more straightforward. We stopped offering custom shadow box years ago when some Customers started abusing us because of the prices we needed to charge.  Why were we charging $120 for a 50x50 cm shadow box when a similar one could be ordered online for only a third of the price, we got queried once too often.

Rather than attempt to explain the time, expenses and difficulties of trying to manufacture shadow boxes, or anything for that matter, here in Australia with each Customer who challenged us, we decided that it would be simpler easier, quicker and cheaper to simply import and distribute shadow boxes.

In the many years since then, we have observed nothing in the labour,  industrial, economical, or political landscape, to dissuade us, or to make us think that we should go back to the way things were.  Thank you for reading this post about Entomology Shadow Boxes.
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