Blog: @silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story.
Charles Burns writes about his explorations into the art and history of silhouette. His mission is to bring this often-overlooked art to a wider, appreciative audience.

Audax: the long-distance silhouettist?

Audax: the long-distance silhouettist?

Virtual Studio Day: 23rd May 2021 •  If you Google “Audax” all you’ll find is information about long-distance cycle racing. However, Audax was also a silhouettist with a career spanning over 40 years. This is why I refer to him as the long-distance silhouettist! (more…)

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Mrs Ames, the mysterious Georgian silhouettist

Mrs Ames, the mysterious Georgian silhouettist

Virtual Studio Day: 13th May 2021 •  Who on earth was Mrs Ames? It’s a good question. Considering that only one pair of silhouettes painted by her has ever been identified, researchers have written a surprising amount about this artist (or artists). (more…)

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Cut during lockdown: silhouette cutting as a Christmas gift experience

Cut during lockdown: silhouette cutting as a Christmas gift experience

Have you already made plans for Christmas? Or are you, like me, completely stuck? I've been thinking about silhouette cutting as an online 'gift experience' and holding onto the idea that silhouettes still make interesting and personal mementos of the unique times we're all living through. (more…)

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Baj B: the Lido Beach Silhouettist

Baj B: the Lido Beach Silhouettist

Baj B is one of my favourite silhouettists. I’ve learned a lot from looking at the best of their silhouettes (I’ve no idea whether Baj was male or female, so will use the non-gendered third person). At their best there are silhouettes I would struggle emulate.  (more…)

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Are silhouettes the perfect socially-distant art?

Are silhouettes the perfect socially-distant art?

Nearly twenty-five years ago, early in my career as a silhouettist, I found myself working at a hunt ball alongside another, best-forgotten silhouette cutter.  While cutting a silhouette I overheard him say to one of the guests: "It's not that you smell, but could you stand a bit further away please?!" I immediately resolved never to work with him again. (more…)

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Is Silhouette Cutting Safe?

Is Silhouette Cutting Safe?

If you're on my newsletter list I have a small favour to ask. I’m currently planning September’s newsletter on “the socially-distant silhouettist”. It’s an important subject; many artists and entertainers are thinking how to provide their services in both a safe and entertaining manner. For me, this is crucial in rebuilding a battered career! (more…)

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William Alport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

William Alport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

Virtual Studio Day: 3rd May 2021 •  It’s only by any accident of history that anybody knows anything about the silhouettist William Alport at all.  He was a workman-like artist who spent his whole life in Liverpool, and never tried to draw much attention to himself. (more…)

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Time Machine Now Live!

Time Machine Now Live!

Did I mention that I was building a time machine? I’m delighted to report that my silhouette time machine is now live and active, and that you can use it @silhouettist The concept is simple, to make my silhouettes available across all timezones. It does this by guiding people to one of my virtual studio days. (more…)

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Samuel Andrews: cameo profiles of the British Raj

Samuel Andrews: cameo profiles of the British Raj

Samuel Andrews’ rather ghostly white en-grisaille cameos occupy that strange overlap between silhouette and portrait miniature.Some love them while others find them rather creepy. (more…)

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The Time Travelling Silhouettist

The Time Travelling Silhouettist

The time-travelling silhouettist sounds like a character from a steam-punk extravaganza. I'd love to imagine I could be that man! Sadly, none of us can really travel in time. Yet curiously, the quirky craft I practice is beginning to make me feel like I'm doing just that. (more…)

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Edgar Adolphe, a Frenchman in Brighton

Edgar Adolphe, a Frenchman in Brighton

Virtual Studio Day: 25th April 2021 • The Frenchman known as “Monsieur Adolphe” seems to have been quite a character in Brighton. Was he responsible for the myth that silhouettes were a traditional French art? (more…)

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Carl Ackerlund, blacksmith silhouettist from Minnesota

Carl Ackerlund, blacksmith silhouettist from Minnesota

Virtual Studio Day: 18th April 2021 • Silhouettes are famous for being black, but very few are actually made by a blacksmith. Carl Ackerlund, from Minnesota, USA was such a man: a blacksmith silhouettist. (more…)

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Adelaide Gallery daguerreotypes and silhouettes

Adelaide Gallery daguerreotypes and silhouettes

Virtual Studio Day: 11th April 2021 • The Adelaide Gallery is more famous for its innovations in Daguerreotype than for silhouette cutting. Nevertheless, a number of silhouettists seem to have worked there. The London gallery was active in the mid nineteenth century. (more…)

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Can a silhouettist work from home?

Can a silhouettist work from home?

I've been asking myself whether I could work from home. As Coronavirus spreads its way around the world it seems everybody is doing it. Could a silhouettist work this way too? (more…)

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Weird Symmetry

Weird Symmetry

As an artist interested in science I’ve always been fascinated by symmetry. As a silhouettist I rely completely on symmetry, my art would literally not exist without ti. I’d like to share some of that fascination by exploring a certain weird symmetry which infuses our lives. . (more…)

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Cutting the Bridal Silhouette

Cutting the Bridal Silhouette

Cutting the bridal silhouette, live on her wedding day, is always a heart-stopping moment. There's the bride, surrounded by her closest family and friends on her big day. What could possibly go wrong? (more…)

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