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.

Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

I recently came across the work of a talented silhouettist called Sarah Harrington.  She was a professional silhouettist who worked during the latter part of the eighteenth century.  What struck me about about her work (apart from her obvious love of hats) is that they're all cut inside-out! (more…)

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Caversham Arts Trail: Once a year I become a cat

Caversham Arts Trail: Once a year I become a cat

Once a year I become a cat. Well, it’s an acronym, of course. CAT stands for Caversham Arts Trail, which is the annual open-studio event for artists based in Caversham.  (more…)

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Mays Barn: a silhouettist’s studio

Mays Barn: a silhouettist’s studio

In Emmer Green, at the bottom of the garden of an unassuming 1920’s semi-detached house you’ll find Mays Barn. It was quite a find! I always tell people we bought the barn and the house came with it! But why is it there? (more…)

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A face-on silhouette or two  (you mean, not in profile?)

A face-on silhouette or two (you mean, not in profile?)

“Can you cut a face-on silhouette?  What happens if I'm not in profile?”   For years, like most silhouettists, I tended to avoid these questions.    (more…)

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Can a shadow survive a fire?

Can a shadow survive a fire?

If you have ever seen my film, or heard me speak, you will know the story of how I taught myself to cut silhouettes by studying the duplicate albums of Hubert Leslie. (more…)

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A Paper Anniversary silhouette

A Paper Anniversary silhouette

One year on falls the paper anniversary. A little over a year ago I was booked to attend a wedding at the Savoy, London. It was a wonderful event and I cut some memorable silhouettes, including a three-minute cutting of one of the most complicated hats I've ever seen. (more…)

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Make ’em Stop, Make ’em Stay …

Make ’em Stop, Make ’em Stay …

... Make 'em Watch, Make 'em Pay.  Some people feel 2017 will be a year of uncertainty. Some businesses are worried about the uncertainty itself. Will their business cope with Brexit? What about the Trump effect?

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 Mixed-media Building Silhouettes

 Mixed-media Building Silhouettes

Today, the making of silhouettes is synonymous with paper cutting.  However, this was not always so.  Silhouettists of the past were intent on the capturing of shadows, the medium was secondary to this end. (more…)

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A silhouette of Marie Antoinette

A silhouette of Marie Antoinette

Last Wednesday I picked up an eighteenth-century silhouette by Isabella Beetham. Beetham is a well-known Georgian artist and her work is much prized by collectors today. She is something of a feminist icon. (more…)

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The European Art of the Silhouette

The European Art of the Silhouette

In the midst of the referendum debate I would like to draw your attention to the European Art of the Silhouette. Every so often I am asked to appear as a guest speaker, speaking about silhouettes and their history. (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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Wedding cake silhouettes

Wedding cake silhouettes

During 2015 I noticed a lot of couples adding a wedding cake silhouette to their cakes. This is a great way to bring the theme of silhouette into the wedding. Some of the cakes are really creative. (more…)

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Whitby Goth weekend

Whitby Goth weekend

I've just got back from two days cutting silhouettes at Whitby Goth Weekend. What an event, I think I must be a closet Goth! (more…)

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The Final Cut

The Final Cut

The film is out! I seem to have spent most of my time this summer cooped up in the editing room with Andi, making the final cut of Silhouette Secrets. Silhouette Secrets is a one-hour documentary film in which a modern-day silhouette artist (me) takes a journey back in time to explore the history of his shadowy art. He asks the question: “Where did it come from?” (more…)

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Arrest of an Artist

Arrest of an Artist

While in America last year, filming for the documentary ‘Silhouette Secrets’, we visited Philadelphia to study a 200-year-old automatic silhouette-making machine. On the way my mind lapsed and I found myself driving on the wrong side of the road. (more…)

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Badges: a new take on an old art?

Badges: a new take on an old art?

If you can manage to get an hour or two away from the office next week I recommend you make your way down to Old Billingsgate market to see our silhouette badges. The Square Meal ‘Venues and Events’ show is once again taking place. The silhouette-artist stand  is on the bridge, stand no M7. You may come away with your own silhouette in a badge. (more…)

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