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.

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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Sent to publisher

Sent to publisher

I managed to finish the book, and lots of free silhouettes are going out in the post.  "Mastering Silhouettes", full of silhouette ideas, is coming out in February and is available now for advance ordering on Amazon. (more…)

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A Windemere Wedding

A Windemere Wedding

A couple of weeks ago I was cutting silhouettes at a wedding in Windermere.  It was cold, wet and windy, as you would expect from the Lake District in late summer. The hotel in use for the reception had a couple of interesting early-Victorian full-length silhouettes on the wall.  One of the teenage guests asked me about them as I did her own silhouette, so I told her they were first cut from paper and then embellished with gold paint, and to judge by the look of them they probably dated from about the 1840's.  Without a moment's hesitation she replied: "Oh, did you do them then?" (more…)

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Painted silhouettes and Mr Charles

Painted silhouettes and Mr Charles

I am feeling very pleased with myself having just sent the manuscript for my book to the publishers this morning, full of painted silhouettes.  I can sit back and relax for the first time in many weeks. (more…)

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Your profile needed!

Your profile needed!

I need to ask for a little help. I've been commissioned to write a silhouette book, which for me is very exciting.  The book is due to come out sometime in 2012.  It will feature a wide variety of silhouette portraits, both traditional and modern, interspersed with snippets of history about eccentric silhouettists from the eighteenth century onwards. (more…)

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More about hollow cutting

More about hollow cutting

I recently posted some hollow-cut silhouettes by an eighteenth-century English artist called Sarah Harrington. Since then I've been experimenting with hollow cutting myself. It's an authentically antique form of silhouette cutting and so might work well at period costume balls. Especially those with an eye to historical accuracy. (more…)

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Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

I recently came across the work of a talented artist called Sarah Harrington and her hollow cut silhouettes. Sarah Harrington was professional silhouettist who worked during the latter part of the eighteenth century.  What struck me in particular about about her work, apart from her obvious love of hats, is that they are all cut inside-out.  (more…)

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Jane Austen and the regency silhouette

Jane Austen and the regency silhouette

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be booked for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, where I found myself cutting a regency silhouette or two. This is one of those rare events that is obviously made for a silhouettist like myself, so I simply had to write and share some of the results. Cutting this set of full lengths (and I cut nearly 50 of them on the day) I really felt as if I'd gone back in time and become a Regency era silhouettist myself.  (more…)

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A wedding proposal

A wedding proposal

I was cutting caricatures at a student ball a couple of weeks ago when I received a strange request. A student was planning to make a wedding proposal to his girlfriend, and was looking for an original way to do it. Seeing me in action, he asked me to cut a silhouette of them both while he did so. (more…)

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Flying at the Garrick Club

Flying at the Garrick Club

I was very surprised on arriving at a recent 60th birthday party at The Garrick Club to see a silhouette flag flying outside, with one of my own silhouettes on it. I felt I'd arrived! The Garrick Club, with it's interesting collection of portraits, is a great place for an artist to work at any time. On that day my artwork was the most prominent.The silhouette flag silhouetteThe silhouette had been cut by me, nearly 10 years earlier at a corporate event. It was the reason I'd been booked of course.

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Silhouette Blurb

Silhouette Blurb

People know very little about silhouettes. For this reason I like to include a little background information on the back of my silhouette cards.  I do update this silhouette blurb from time to time, so here is the latest version. (more…)

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