Friday, February 15, 2013

How to cut Silhouettes for Decorations

by Silhouette Artist Cindi Rose
                There are many ways to cut a silhouette.  One is to buy a book from Dover, and see templates of trains, cars, animals, birds, Valentine’s, and people.  Make copies of these pages, and then practice. When you think you are good you can buy paper from HyGloss on-line. It is black on one side and white on the other.  You cut on the white side, so that the black side is protected.
Another is to use Rice Paper and to put it in a large stack.  Get an Oriental template from your favorite craft shop, and an exactor knife.  Cut out the tiny shapes. Silhouette profiles  can be carved large as school teachers do.  This is the most amateur style. Normally, it is done with black construction paper which is taped on a wall where you think the subject’s face will be.  Have the person in front of the paper with the side profile shinning on the paper.  Try to follow the shadow, which will be off-since a shadow is never exactly how someone looks.  Next get any scissors, to cut art in the shape of the profile.  After this use school paste—deleted some and paste it to a white background.  It won’t be beautiful like the miniature silhouettes that are prized by historians, as those were done by portrait artists who could also draw with scissors.  However, if you make this yourself, it can be a nice way to remember a wonderful moment, and a good way to make a home project, and art décor as a novice.
                Silhouettes can be pasted with dry bond, spray mount, glue stick, sticky tabs, Elmer’s acid-free glue, or wheat paper paste.  Each glue requires clean up, but you can watch artists such as Cindi H Rose, glue on-line.  I use spray mount, and put the white side of the silhouette on a piece of paper, and lightly spray the back of the silhouette.  Then, I place it on the cardstock. Normally I like the card stock to be 5 x 7, when I splurge it is Crane’s.  At Disneyland, I use wheat paste, putting it in a bucket, taking a paintbrush to brush it on the paper, then mounting the white side of the silhouette so the black side is up. Then I take blank newsprint (or the type of paper that covers toilet seats) to wipe up the excess glue.  I must note to you, this often has the added feature, of giving the paper an antique color, that makes it appear older than it may be, a vintage or antique look, from the paste reacting with the paper.  I do recommend you use acid free paper and glue, as well as artist’s prepositional glue.

                Today you can take a photo and blacken in the face with a Sharpie marker or on the computer in Photoshop to make a silhouette.  Very few people can do the actual art of looking at someone and merely cutting the profile, which is the highest level of silhouette art portraits.  As an artist who has hand-cut silhouettes 40 years, I always feel there are only around 38 real silhouette artists in the world, and maybe only 8 great ones. There are many wonderful silhouette artists in America and London, and the premier ones appear to be on the front page of the net, when you type in the words, “Silhouette artists”.  Some have made books to buy and you can check for Kathryn Flocken’s book, it is the best ever written. You can also put your cut silhouettes in miniature, from reducing them on your printer, and glue them on the outside of glass candle holders from a dramatic look.

                You can also copy a profile photo with tracing paper, and cut that out, or trace someone’s profile from your computer and place that on the top of black paper, then cut it out.  Most of these methods make great craft ideas, but are not real silhouettes.  To find a real silhouette artist, google, bing, or yahoo the words, authentic silhouette artist, you want one that actually does this lost art by looking.  The price can be $20 to $100. Many such as take e-mail orders and have a great Etsy shop run by silhouette artist, Kathryn Flocken.  You can check out Silhouette sisters, Kathryn and Cindi to get the best examples of detailed, unique, silhouettes. Paper- cutting.  View  The Guild of American Papercutters and Peggy McClard antique silhouette gallery, to purchase wonderful books and silhouettes.  To hire a silhouette artist, go to Gigmasters, some may give lessons, although I found it impossible to teach, unless the person was a master of portrait art.
                I fell upon silhouette cutting, after being hired as a portrait artist.  The smoothness of etching a profile with scissors amazes me.  I have seen people use good barber scissors, craft scissors, and surgical scissors.  The most important part is to cut with the interior of the scissors, not the tip or outer blade.  Wrapping paper is a great medium to start your cutting crafts, until you want to invest in expensive Hygloss real silhouette paper.  You should use oval mats or oval frames to showcase your cut arts!
                If you want to watch me in action on a tutorial go to YouTube to “How to Cut a silhouette 101” and also to my video “Wedding Wonderful Silhouettes”.  I also have a website, that you can view, and if you join silhouettesbyCindiHarwoodRoseFacebook, you can ask me any questions, you may have.  Make sure to give most people the eyelash, they usually love that.  Happy cutting to you from silhouette artist Cindi Rose.


  1. I really love silhouettes !!!!!

  2. Thank-you, there is so much texturing you cand do with scissors and paper! I am amazed at the uniqueness of silhouette artist, Cindi Harwood Rose on Pinterest.