The Last Silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story. Charles Burns writes about his research into the art and history of silhouette. On the way he meets some fascinating characters, both ancient and modern.

Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our film Silhouette Secrets includes a cameo appearance by Paul Daniels.  This interview - our Paul Daniels cameo - was a late addition. We were looking for a magician to talk about Dai Vernon, the celebrated father of close-up magic, who earned a living as a street silhouettist during the Great American Depression. (more…)

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First festival successes

First festival successes

Silhouette Secrets seems off to a flying start. We took part in two film festivals towards the end of 2015 and have applied for many more this year. The first two festivals were the Marbella International Film Festival, where we were nominated for Best Documentary, and NiFF Houston, where we won the Best Documentary Award. (more…)

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Speed cutting secrets

Speed cutting secrets

The thing which most struck me after the "Off With Your Head!" speed-cutting contest was just how entertaining it had all been. With Cindi Rose and I cutting back-to-back, silhouettes began filling the room within minutes. Everybody went away with at least one portrait and most got two.  (more…)

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Does ‘One’ in Houston mean ‘Go’?

Does ‘One’ in Houston mean ‘Go’?

There seems to be a certain ambiguity over the silhouette speed cutting world record. The main item on our US agenda was a trip to Houston to meet the world’s fastest silhouette artist. Cindi Harwood Rose holds this record, which stands at 144 silhouettes cut in one hour. The film will end with me going to Houston to challenge it. There's only one problem: nobody seems to know the result!

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Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free silhouettes! I begin this year in a state of high excitement. We have started filming “Silhouette Secrets” in earnest.  This is my first foray into the world of film (apart from occasional TV appearances: Blue Peter, Tales of Tools, Big Brother's Big Mouth etc.) I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience. (more…)

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Some very fast Germans

Some very fast Germans

An interesting challenge was set recently by a client in Germany. He required each of 250 conference delegates to receive a silhouette - cut from their own corporate-blue paper - during a conference dinner.  My initial proposal (based on tried-and-tested advice to allow two minutes per person) was to book four artists.  He replied that he had the budget to book two, Mike and myself, on the understanding that everybody would receive a one-minute silhouette. (more…)

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New silhouette scissors

New silhouette scissors

One of the things people often ask when they see me cutting is "How many pairs of silhouette scissors do you get through?"I get the impression they are expecting to hear I use at least six pairs a night, as they are usually quite surprised when I explain that I've been using the same pair of scissors for the last ten years! (more…)

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