Cutting the Brides’ Silhouette
16.02.2020 by Charles Burns
Cutting a silhouette of the bride (or brides) live on her wedding day is always a heart-stopping moment. There she is, on her big day, surrounded by her closest family and friends. What could possibly go wrong?
Grooms are generally easier.
Cutting live on the day
I’ve always felt it important to cut full-length silhouettes of any couple on the day, so I include this in my deluxe package. I feel the paper silhouettes need to be there, to be passed around the room for everybody to see. Some artists differ with me on this, preferring to take a photo or two and cut the silhouettes later in the studio. They’ll argue that they get a better result that way, but to me it seems a shame. The guests will want to see them, so my approach is to cut them right there and then!
A wedding at The Grove
Charlotte poses with a glass of Champagne as I get busy
This wonderful set of photos was taken at Charlotte and David’s recent wedding at The Grove. They capture perfectly both my “heart-stopping moments” and the subsequent reactions of the bride and those around her. The sheer fun of it all!
It sounds odd, but the hardest people for an artist to get hold of on the day can be the couple! I only need a few minutes to cut a silhouette, but there’s always something else going on! So I like to make sure to tell the couple I’ll be cutting their silhouettes before everybody sits down.
A silhouette of the bride
Cutting full-length silhouettes freehand (as opposed to drawing out or working from a photo) is really hard. There are very few silhouettists who do this on a regular basis. I like to cut through white paper as I work, as it’s easier to see what I’m doing that way. A sheet of black paper (the actual silhouette) is held firmly underneath. The challenge is to keep everything in proportion: to cut the feet at the same scale as the body, and the body at the same scale as the head. After that I need to look at the couple. Which is taller? I need to get their relative heights right too (or sometimes, let’s face it, I need to NOT get their relative heights right… )
There are lots of things which could go wrong, but thankfully they rarely do.
And if they do? Well, no matter, it’s only paper. I can always cut another!
The advantage of working this way becomes apparent after I finish cutting. It’s in watching the expressions on the faces of al, the guests as they realise what I’ve done. Many of them, by this stage, have already had their own silhouettes cut. They were wondering if I would do “something special” for the couple, but nobody ever expects the full-length silhouettes.
All photos in this post by the wonderful Natalie
Cutting through white paper into the silhouette
Comparing silhouettes: did I get the heights right?
“We need to hold it against something white!”
The unmounted silhouette of the bride being passed around
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