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.

April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

Virtual Studio Day: 1st April 2021 • The English silhouettistte April Fielding (her description, not mine) is a shadowy character. Until this month, I didn't even know her name! I only recognised a series of very fine postcard silhouettes, made in the 1900s, embedded in graphite and initialled "AF". (more…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

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…)

Read more

Portraits and Caricatures by Inger Eidem

Portraits and Caricatures by Inger Eidem

I heard about Inger Eidem long before I knew her name. Whilst cutting silhouettes at events I'd occasionally meet people who'd tell me about silhouettes they had done in their childhood. Apparently the artist cut through two pieces of paper at the same time, one of which became a portrait and the other a caricature. Wait, what?! Is that even possible?

Read more

Capturing Likeness in Caricature

Capturing Likeness in Caricature

Is it possible to make a caricature likeness in silhouette? This question vexed me for many years. (more…)

Read more

Mays Barn 2020 Studio Catalogue now out

Mays Barn 2020 Studio Catalogue now out

A short post to announce that my 2020 studio catalogue has now been launched. Click here to download your free copy! (more…)

Read more

Prosopographus: the silhouette automaton

Prosopographus: the silhouette automaton

As an artist interested in science I'm aways fascinated by weird pseudo-scientific ideas of the past, especially if they involve silhouettes. Once which caught my eye recently is the Prosopographus.  (more…)

Read more