Shadow boxes are extremely useful constructs that artists have employed for centuries to control the light on their still life models. They can range from the very simple to the very complex. The best artist I personally know tapes pieces of foam core together into flimsy tents that look like they're ready to collapse onto the model. It doesn't look like much, but the resulting paintings are drop-dead gorgeous.
Being a born builder, and always looking for any excuse to involve power tools, I opted for a sturdier and more permanent shadow box. I started with an outer frame of 1x2 and 1x3 strips of pine, to which I screwed 24" square sheets of plywood.
The interior cage is painted a flat black. This cuts down on reflected light, as well as obviously providing a deep, deep background from which the objects can emerge.
The bottom has been designed to accomodate another 24" square sheet, so I can easilly drop in any stained or painted piece of wood I like to instantly change the surface. I can also suspend cloths to make a backdrop.
When objects are placed in the box, the resulting effect can be really quite nice. This is a new addition to my studio; I've only done one painting using it so far; one of the tomato pair paintings. It is a lot of fun to use, and I can't wait to do some more.