Silhouette Art Prints: preserving the memory

SILHOUETTES are all about memories. Of all the things I do as a silhouettist, one of my favourites is to create a collage-style print of all the silhouettes cut at a wedding.

Giclée print of Peter and Charlotte's wedding
An A3 giclée print made from silhouettes cut at a wedding

Wedding Mementos

The reason I like making these prints is that they become part of the story of the wedding. I know the couple will value them for years to come.

I can of course make a collage print after any event, but it’s at weddings that they’ve really found their home.

I think it’s something to do with the nostalgia of weddings and the importance of finding ways to preserve the memory of the day. What do you think?
Why do you think silhouettes are suited to weddings?x
Whatever the reason, I do know that I love making them!

Visitors to my studio can always see some recent examples on display.

Framed silhouette collage print on an easel
Framed silhouette collage during an open studio event

I began making these when I realised that some couples were seeing only a few of the silhouettes I was cutting at their wedding. This tends to happen because they’re busy having photographs taken while I’m cutting silhouettes. I began taking photos of my copies and was very quickly asked to make a printable version. My clients were having so much fun identifying all their guests and working out who was who.

A collection of 15 prints produced after recent weddings

The Process

To make these prints we begin by scanning all the duplicate silhouettes. We then arrange them in Photoshop to make a single collage image. This is a time-consuming but rewarding process.

We then email an initial proof to the couple, usually a week or so after their wedding. Often the arrangement isn’t quite right and they’ll ask us to move some people about. Most often, they print out the proof at home and begin drawing coloured lines all over it to indicate who goes next to whom and which silhouettes should be nearer the top. We rearrange and send a second proof.

Once everybody is happy (which sometimes takes proof number 3 or 4) we fire up the Monster Printer and create a set of fine art, giclée prints. Each print is produced on fine-art, acid-free paper before being signed and editioned by me. We usually make an edition of three, consisting on one A2 and two A3 prints, however we can print any quantity you like within reason.

One A2 and two A3 versions of the same print
A new signed and editioned set of prints, ready to send to the client

Prints and Editions (technical stuff)

The “monster printer” was a bit of an investment, but has proved really worthwhile. We use an A2 printer from the Epson SureColour range and print onto 275g Pinnacle Velvet Fine Art paper, which I really love for its depth and texture. The result is a set of silhouettes printed in a rich, velvety black.

After printing them, I sign each print in pencil and add an edition number. This number indicates the total number of prints we made, for instance number ⅔ means print no 2 from a total edition of 3. If required, we can of course print further editions, for instance if the original is lost or damaged in transit.

Lockdown Wedding, October 2020
Print of a small wedding in 2020 limited to just 15 guests

Ordering after the event

Most people order them beforehand, as part of a wedding package, but one of the beauties of the traditional silhouettist’s studio I run is that it’s also possible to order then after the event. Occasionally I hear from past wedding clients who, perhaps after seeing one of my social media posts, write rather wistfully that they wish they’d ordered one of these for their own wedding. To their surprise I immediately reply:

“No problem , you still can!”

After every event the duplicate silhouettes are filed for pasting into my duplicate albums. This is a practice silhouettists have followed for over 250 years, in much the same way that photographers later began keeping all their negatives. An interesting story about the use of these duplicates is Can a Shadow Survive a Fire?

Part of the Artistic Process

As an artist, I find the process of keeping duplicate copies far more useful than simply to replace lost silhouettes or make prints from. Keeping a copy enables me to check my work and see if Im developing bad habits. It also enables me to experiment with the form (which I do constantly) and check the results afterwards.

A double silhouette held aloft
My signature face-to-face double silhouette, cut during a reception at Caswell House

Over the years this has enabled me to develop a wide repertoire of “cuts”, such as my signature face-to-face doubles, by experimenting at events. You’ll see much of this repertoire – people holding glasses, couples face to face or back to back, siblings one behind the other, parents holding babies – in the print after the event.


Wedding silhouettes
The full-length silhouettes I’ll cut of you on the day will form
the centrepiece of your silhouette collage .

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