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.

A Silhouettist’s Idea of an April Fool?

A Silhouettist’s Idea of an April Fool?

An April Fool invitation for event organisers to experience a ten-minute sitting in my virtual silhouette studio. (more…)

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Otho Barden: the Rock City Artist

Otho Barden: the Rock City Artist

Virtual Studio Day: 21st June 2021 •  Otho Barden was an American artist who cut silhouettes during the summer season at the popular tourist attraction of Rock City at the top of Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He seems to have worked there for many years, probably from the opening of Rock City in 1932 until the mid 1950s. (more…)

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April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

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…)

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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 Allport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

William Allport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

It’s only by any accident of history that anybody knows anything about the silhouettist William Allport 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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