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April 20, 2012

Historic and cool

A few months ago I featured a post about silhouettes, an 18th
century art form for those who couldn't afford to have a portrait
painted of their loved ones.  

With the invention of photography, the popularity of silhouettes
quickly faded.  Resurrected in the '50s, silhouettes made a brief comeback and, in the last year, the craft has resurfaced.

Lately it seems that I bump into silhouettes on just about every decorating website I visit.  At the end of this post you'll see my
efforts to make silhouettes but, in the meantime, enjoy these:

The original process to make a silhouette was fairly simple.  The subject sat sideways behind a white fabric or paper screen with a candle behind them, illuminating their profile.  A person traced their profile onto the screen then manually cut it out.   
Talented artists actually free-hand cut the silhouette by just looking at the subject - quite difficult.

A few months ago my daughter and I were trying to think of a unique gift idea for
my Mom's birthday.  The discussion led to what types of things she collects and the
light bulb came on.  I said, "She collects silhouettes.  Let's make silhouettes of 
the twins on their first birthday!"   Here are the results:


I apologize for the poor quality of the photos - I made a rookie mistake of not
photographing the silhouettes before framing them.  But you get the 'picture' - 
and it was SO easy.  Here's how I created the silhouettes:

1.  take a side photograph of the subject 
2.  download it on the computer and print it out
3.  Cut out the shape that you want to be the silhouette
4.  Trace it onto black paper
5.  Use curved cuticle scissors to cut around the outline, not forgetting to 
     cut out stray hairs (cowlicks!) and eyelashes.
The frames came from a thrift shop and already had mats.  For a few dollars we
gave my mother one of the most special gifts she has ever received.  

Try your hand at creating a silhouette.  You'll be amazed at how much fun it is.  
Have a great weekend and don't forget - Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day!

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