Silhouettes have been in style since early black etchings on cave walls. So, why not put them on your own wall too! In fact, adding silhouettes as decorations is fun and easy, you can do it yourself as a craft project or hire a professional.
The word silhouette applies to an organic shape, that is black on the inside. On Grecian Urns you see figures marching, on Egyptian artifacts you view hieroglyphics, icons, symbolic gods. Originally, black profiles were called Shades in England. Profiles were hand-painted with lamp soot on glass, pottery, or ceramic. In China, the paper cuttings were used in the world’s best culture—the Tang Dynasty, as embroidery patterns. I am enclosing a sample of one I did of a popular Asian Art theme for good luck. In China and Japan these are still considered “good luck” and they use popular silhouettes such as animals, fish, flowers, birds. Their choice of material is Rice Paper, which is sold in craft stores. They buy a self-forgiving mat, and use a scalpel, exacto knife, or sharp blade. There are patterns on the internet, that you can down-load and use. I bought my pattern from Dover Books.
1. To begin with, you can make table ware with a Sharpie Marker, and white or beige pottery. Snap a photo of a pet or person’s profile, reduce it to the size you want, cut it out. Use this as a pattern (template) to trace the contour. Then, fill it in with the marker. You can buy plain white or cream pottery at Pottery Barn, perhaps a dollar store, or Target. Grandma should love this contemporary keepsake. If you want to do this in a color, I suggest a dark color such as navy blue, or green, if you get too light, the shape will not show-up. You can also look on Etsy at Paperportraits.com and order silhouette mugs, and canvas bags. The canvas bags can be framed, and combined with oval silhouettes.
2. Take a photo, and send it to Paperprofiles.com and Kathryn Flocken will send you three authentic silhouettes for just $25.00. She also has super inexpensive picture frames for $12 to $40, depending on material, and size. This also takes care of holiday gifts for grandparents and spouses. Silhouettes by Cindi also does silhouettes but charges more, as her site will only allow people to acquire silhouettes from archival, antique historic French silhouette paper ,and the silhouettes
are non-profit donations to either a pet cause, or The Rose Ribbon Foundation, 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) for those with cancer. They are $100 for three copies, but from ancient silhouette paper, 50 years old. Both artists do the real silhouettes without tracing or photo-shop. Cindi and Kathryn both worked at Walt Disney World as silhouette artists, both girls have fine art degrees, and can do lovely details in their work. This type of work is a lost art, and will only go up in value. You will want the signatures.
3. Photoshop, or trace. If you do not want to get the “Real McCoy” and feel crafty, just take a profile photo, put it on your computer, and fill it in, Photoshop style. You can also stand a subject near a window, turn the lights off, tape black construction paper on the shade or wall, shine a light or projector, trace the shadow (with pencil to erase markings later), then cut it out. You can also use colored paper, If you want this larger, just go to a FedEx or a copy machine and enlarge it. It will not be fine art, but it will make a warm and fuzzy memory, and a grand statement of your caring heart. I have attached a hand-cut silhouette I did of a couple facing one another, with a stylized look. This is how your
wall tracing should look, and you may want to keep it without an eyelash, to make it look clean. If you want the professional look and cannot cut the last out, draw in the eyelash.
4. Make silhouette fabric. Do this by having a professional silhouette artist make cool silhouettes of you and your family, full-figure, or just bust-line. Go to Spoonflowers, and decide a pattern, and order fabric. You can turn this into a bedspread for a
child’s room, cover a wall with it, or use it as a tablecloth. The sample I am enclosing, is one that I did for a bride and groom, to be at their table at their wedding. I also made a silhouette art apron for them, from the fabric.
5. My favorite last idea is to make huge wall silhouettes from contact paper. Buy sticky black contact paper from an art supply store, have a child, friend, or loved one lay upon it, outline the shape, and cut it out. Or put it outside in the sun, and trace an exact shadow, then cut that out. These images can be mysterious. You can stick them upon a quality card stock from an art store, in your choice of color, or apply them directly to a wall or window. One friend put a black silhouette of a couple (life size) in the window, and she says that it scares robbers away!