Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Shadow Box for Bridget

I am the worst, least creative buyer of presents there is.  I'm sure of it.  I dread holidays that involve giving gifts.  Particularly for my lovely partner, Bridget, a woman of fine tastes (the wags among you will likely be saying, "except when it comes to men."  But let's not go there, OK?

Two years ago September, she and I had the great privilege to fish some much-storied water on the Miramichi.  Bridget, standing mostly in six inches of water, hooked 7 fish that day, landing two.  Our great friend and guide Vin Swayze stayed by her side the entire day...after sending me on a perilous journey to the middle of the river where fished jumped and rolled in front of me, behind me, and even on to my line.  Suffice it to say, no salmon love for GT.

Bridget hooked all 7 of her fish on the same little barbless #10 Celtic Beauty.  Her last fish was a gorgeous 15 or pound hen.  After that fish, she retired for the day, and I clipped off the fly and put it in one of my boxes for safe keeping.

Fast forward to Christmas season 2015.  Aaaargh, what can I get her for a gift??  The little fly was taped to the edge of my computer screen for a couple years now.  Staring at it, inspiration finally came: shadow box.

I have a friend that I recently became re-acquainted with via Facebook, Barry Mill.  I used to deal often with Barry and the company he owns, Sawdust and Stitches ( ) when I ran the Fly Fishing Museum in Manchester, Vermont, purchasing many of his products for our fundraising events.   Went to Barry's webpage and found just what I was looking for; a shadow box kit that has room for a 4x6 photo, a little box for a caption, and a box for the fly.  I called Barry to see if he had one in stock (we're getting perilously close to C-day here).  He had one, but wrong color matting.  No problem he said, he'd jump right on it, get the right color mats cut, and ship it express to me within a day.

The kit:

For some reason, I can never get my computer to print exactly 4x6 photos, they're always just a little under those dimensions.  If I had a good 4x6 pix, I wouldn't have had to make a cut-out that fitted the photo better:

Adding the verbiage to the sheet of heavy stock paper only took a bit of trial and error using Microsoft Word.

Barry supplies everything needed to put the shadow box together, including the little plastic posts to mount the fly to the card stock.  I used expoxy to mount the post to the stock and the fly.  If this was a museum-grade situation, I would have gone to the hollow post/tiny wire fly mounting system.

The caption:

The finished product:

I think she was pretty tickled with her gift, and I was some proud to have come up with something other than the usual earrings this year!   And I thank Barry for going the extra mile for me so that I had everything in hand by Christmas day. 

Good instructions come with the kit.  Or, for more moola, Barry with put the shadow box of your choice together for you.   You'll enjoy the many possibilities his products provide.  I have no business association with Sawdust and Stitches.  I just like to tell folks about great products and service when I find them.  As an old boss said to me more than once, "Unspoken praise has no value."

Hope you all have a great 2016 and many reasons to create a shadow box!


  1. Good craftsmanship and a great final project. Glad you were able to have 'Mission Accomplished' by zero hour. Gary, you don't know how many of us struggle for meaningful gifts.


    1. Thanks, Doug....and misery sure loves company!

  2. Good stuff, Gary!
    Great idea for a gift and thanks for the link!

    1. John, ALL your flies belong in shadow boxes, unless they're in the river tied to my tippet, lol!

  3. Gary, they are always a great gift when you can showcase a memory.

    1. You're so right, Bill. I'm thinking about doing some on my own for us. Gonna be a long winter, be nice to do something besides tie flies. I have so many beautiful flies given to me by friends...I'd like to try to do them justice this way.

  4. What a great way to save a memory for everyone involved.


  5. It is, Gregg. I wish I had saved the fly (black bear green butt tied by Keith Fulsher) that I hooked my first atlantic on. I have the photos, but sadly, not the fly.

  6. What a wonderful gift. Beautiful work.

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