Silhouette scissors in action

My Silhouette Scissors

ONE OF THE QUESTIONS people most often ask when they see me cutting is

“How many pairs of silhouette scissors do you get through?”

I get the impression they’re expecting to hear that I use at least six pairs a night!

When I explain that I’ve been using the same pair of scissors for the last ten years, it often comes as a surprise to them.

The truth is that I get very attached to scissors. They seem to take on a personality of their own and almost feel like an extension of my own hand.  Although I always carry a spare pair with me, I almost never use them.

Silhouette scissors in action
Cutting a pre-drawn studio silhouette with my old favourite scissors, now sadly missed. One of the illustrations from Mastering Silhouettes.

Ten years ago I purchased two identical steel silhouette scissors from a surgical supply store in Birmingham. Seven years later (as does occasionally happen) one of them went AWOL, leaving me with one.

Contacting the suppliers I was told they no longer make that kind of scissor.  A few weeks ago the second pair also disappeared, which left me feeling really bereft.  Alas, the scissors which have twice cut portraits of the Queen, and created all the illustrations in my new book, are no more!  I found myself going through a genuine period of grief.

Silhouette scissors with serrated blades

So how to replace them? After experimenting with a number of different blades I have plumbed for a pair of rather smart tungsten scissors with a serrated blade. Rather counter-intuitively the serrated blade grips the paper – acting a bit like a third hand – yet still produces a clean crisp line.  At present I feel like I’m learning all over again, but first impressions are good.

New silhouette scissors
Scarily smart new scissors!

Without wishing to get too technical (there’s more than enough of that in the book) I’m experiencing a slight increase in speed during the ‘first cut’ (the outline) and a slight decrease when performing ‘point work’ (the small holes I like to cut – for instance in the hair – which have become a kind of trademark style for me).  Right now I’m greatly looking forward to the busy Christmas season (which starts in earnest this week) so that I can get a chance to really see what these new scissors can really do!


Man-with-cap silhouette
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Annabel Mallia
Annabel Mallia
8 years ago

How did you become a silhouette artist? Excuse me being nosy!

Oliver Gill
6 years ago

You may have tried this: contact old firm and get some names from them . I’m sure there’s a fair few of your favourite scissors languishing in desk or cabinet thinking is this my life’s ambition

5 years ago

Where can I get a pair of these new scissors Mr. Burns? Aspiring silhouettist. 🙂

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