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.

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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Tales of a Wayside Inn

Tales of a Wayside Inn

After visiting Houston the Silhouette Secrets film crew were invited to a lunch by SCONE. We met "Silhouette Cutters of New England" at the Wayside Inn, near Boston. We knew nothing of the Wayside Inn's history or it's connection with the art of silhouette. (more…)

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Speed cutting secrets

Speed cutting secrets

The thing which most struck me after the "Off With Your Head!" speed-cutting contest was just how entertaining it had all been. With Cindi Rose and I cutting back-to-back, silhouettes began filling the room within minutes. Everybody went away with at least one portrait and most got two.  (more…)

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Does ‘One’ in Houston mean ‘Go’?

Does ‘One’ in Houston mean ‘Go’?

There seems to be some ambiguity over the silhouette speed-cutting world record. The main item on our 2014 US agenda was a trip to Houston to meet the world’s fastest silhouette artist: Cindi Harwood Rose. Her record stands at 144 silhouettes cut in one hour. Our film, Silhouette Secrets, is to end with the speed-cutting duel we fought in Houston. There's only one problem: nobody seems to know the result!

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The Oxford Shark

The Oxford Shark

During filming of Silhouette Secrets in February 2014 we were unexpectedly let down by an interviewee in London. We found ourselves, camera crew in tow, with nothing to film on a beautiful winter morning. On a whim we got the Russian motorcycle out of the shed and headed out into Oxford. (more…)

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Digital Selfies

Digital Selfies

As our Indiegogo campaign enters it’s final week I’m posting the promised update... and a request for a tweet! Tomorrow will be Silhouette Secrets' Twitter day, and your chance to win a digital selfie. (more…)

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Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free Silhouettes and other silly ideas

Free silhouettes! I begin this year in a state of high excitement. We have started filming “Silhouette Secrets” in earnest.  This is my first foray into the world of film (apart from occasional TV appearances: Blue Peter, Tales of Tools, Big Brother's Big Mouth etc.) I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience. (more…)

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First attempts at filming

First attempts at filming

I am excited to report we have at last started filming Silhouette Secrets. We filmed this interview and "how to cut a silhouette" sequence in front of my wall of silhouette duplicate albums. It is unlikely to be used in the film, but I hope it gives a flavour of what we have in mind. (more…)

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Will anybody fund a silhouette documentary film?

Will anybody fund a silhouette documentary film?

When I first discovered the art of silhouette it seemed like a tiny corner in the world of art, unloved by the fine-art establishment. Back then, the thought of a silhouette documentary was hard to imagine. Today, I'm amazed by the journey which silhouette has led me on.  (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. On closer inspection I realised it was one of my own silhouettes. I felt I'd arrived! (more…)

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Radio shades

Radio shades

Whenever I feel I've exhausted all the challenges silhouette cutting has to offer, a new one always opens itself up to me.  A week or so ago I was asked to cut a single silhouette. The subject was Tony Blackburn and the challenge was to cut it live on the radio! (more…)

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Some very fast Germans

Some very fast Germans

An interesting challenge was set for us by a client in Germany. He wanted each of 250 conference delegates to receive a silhouette - cut from their own corporate-blue paper - during a conference dinner.  My initial proposal (based on tried-and-tested advice to allow two minutes per person) was to book four artists.  He replied that he had the budget to book two, Michael and myself, on the understanding that everybody received a one-minute silhouette. (more…)

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Silhouette Workshops and other cutting-edge ideas

Silhouette Workshops and other cutting-edge ideas

I've been getting a number of enquiries about dinner parties, or small meetings, for 20 people or less. One particular event organiser, who called after a client had asked her about silhouettes, was understandably skeptical: "They're only expecting 12 guests" she said "I know how fast you are, you'll only be there for 15 minutes or so, won't you?" (more…)

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A royal profile or two

A royal profile or two

On the 19th May I was invited to cut a royal profile or two at Coworth Park. It was one of the only events I've worked at where the toastmaster had to announce lunch by calling for "Your Majesties, Royal Highnesses, Highnesses, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen... " to take their seats.  (more…)

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Doll’s House Silhouettes

Doll’s House Silhouettes

One of my favourite projects in Mastering Silhouettes was to create a set of silhouettes for a doll's house. However, I had to think carefully about scale! (more…)

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