Each silhouette is cut entirely freehand, by eye using only paper and scissors. These are not the large traced silhouettes which are often produced by kindergarten or primary school teachers where a child sits next to a lamp and has the shadow of their face projected onto a sheet of paper. Silhouettes are a form of miniature portrait art cut in exacting detail of the live subject in only five minutes time.
As far as I have researched, there are only around twenty silhouette artists in America, about six in England and I have not been able to find any in Europe. To my knowledge, I am now the only silhouette artist in Australia. For many years S. John Ross, now deceased, worked at Sydney’s Luna Park and the Agricultural show circuit around Australia. You may even remember having your silhouette done by him at the The Royal Easter Show! There is a tribute to him on Wikipedia.
As silhouettes are rare, it is not surprising that many people have not even seen how a silhouette is cut. Often they are expecting a tracing to be done or think that a silhouette is some kind of photographic process. It is absolutely fascinating to watch a silhouette artist at work and be amazed at how quickly a likeness emerges from the black paper. Where possible, I encourage people, particularly high school students to watch as I cut the silhouettes in groups of five so they may gain an appreciation not just of the finished art but also of it’s actual creation. In 1982, I had my own silhouette cut at Disneyland and my own fascination eventually led me to become a silhouette artist too. Extra copies can be cut along with the original (up to two extras) and make great gifts for grandparents.
On the “gallery” page of my website, www.silhouetteman.com.au you can see different examples of the detailing of hats, hairstyles, glasses, ribbons, bows and collars and some of these details may be very representative of a child, so give consideration as to what to wear, how their hair is done, and whether they should wear glasses or a hat or not. Boys don’t usually have as much detail options as girls but bowties, overall straps and baseball caps might be considered.
The order form for your group can be designed to include information about the website and parents can be encouraged to visit and learn more about the silhouettes before ordering. A simplified order form can be created for your group. Pricing for your group is the same as on the website.
Once the silhouettes are cut, they are mounted onto 12.7cm x 17.8cm (5” x 7”) mounting boards suitable for framing in standard size frames.
If 20.3cm x 25.4cm (8” x 10”) oval mats are ordered, the silhouettes are mounted onto mounting boards of the same size. Conservation quality mats, mounting boards and tapes are used as they are acid free, and will not cause discolouration or fade with age.
Silhouettes can be mounted individually or grouped.
A 20.3cm x 25.4cm (8” x 10”) mat is used for individually mounted silhouettes.
A 28cm x 35.6cm (11” x 14”) mat is used for groupings for two or three subjects.
Generally if oval frames are being offered, it is the 12.7cm x 17.8cm (5” x 7”) size which is suitable for one subject. Oval frames are not always available so check with me if this is an option you would like.
You may want to keep the fundraiser simple and only offer individual silhouettes.
If children will be carrying the silhouettes home from school, you may not want to offer the frames which can be damaged easily and contain glass. However, at events where the parents are in attendance, transporting the goods home shouldn’t be a concern. If parents are not at the event, you may want to hold the framed silhouettes aside until they can be collected by a parent.
This website was designed by me using very sharp scissors and sticky tape. Copyright © 2011 by
hand-cut silhouettes from your photos