Did everybody else make these in kindergarten? I remember my teacher shining a spotlight on my profile and tracing the shadow on a piece of paper taped to the wall. I think the only part I actually helped with was gluing the black cutout to a piece of construction paper and proudly bringing it home to my parents.
Based on that memory – and the recent resurgence of silhouettes, I made a little wall hanging with hooks and a group of ornaments of my niece and nephew.
I love the quaint, Victorian vibe of this project. For the wood slice, I tea-stained plain paper to give the name banners a more aged look. Done in miniature, I think they feel utterly precious. I confess that taking a photo and scaling it down on the computer breaks my self-imposed lo-fi mantra of the season. But I think anything that harkens back to 17th century France still counts.
Now, I want to be honest here. Silhouette cutting is an art form. I took a somewhat rudimentary approach here, but getting the profile cut just right took me a few attempts. Be sure you are working with a very sharp blade and take your time.
And ultimately, there is something very satisfying about tracing and then cutting the adorably round little features of my niece and nephew. And I think the result is heirloom-quality.
- Photo editing software and printer (at home or copy store)
- Card Stock
- Thin permanent marker, like a Sharpie
- Craft knife with sharp blade
- Black paper
- Sealant (optional)
- Wooden circles for base of ornaments (I used 3” wide circles)
- Decorative paper
- White glue
- Decoupage glue like Mod Podge, with foam brush
- Finished Silhouettes
For Wood Slice:
- Wood slice, bought or foraged (if foraged, make sure to sand it)
- Plain white paper
- Pencil and eraser
- Black pen
- Craft Knife
- Small amount of black tea (a strong black tea, like Irish or English breakfast)
- Finished Silhouettes
- Decoupage glue with foam brush
- Screw-in brass hooks
- Sawtooth for hanging
To Make Silhouettes:
- The quality of your silhouette depends upon the quality of the photo you start with. Get your subject to stand in profile against a solid background.
- At home or at a copy center, scale your photo to size and print (the larger the image, the easier it will be to capture the details, but I wanted to work small so I scaled the photo down to 2 ½” wide). Print onto card stock.
- With a fine-tipped permanent marker, trace the profile, adding a swoop at the bottom, below the neck. I wanted to add wisps of hair, so I took a couple small liberties and exaggerated their bangs and some pieces of hair at the crown.
- With a craft knife, carefully cut out your silhouette. This is now your template.
- Place your template on black paper and trace. Carefully cut out.
- Repeat to create as many silhouettes as you need for your projects.
To Make Ornaments:
- Place a wooden circle on a piece of decorative paper and trace the shape. Cut out.
- Cut a 6” length of ribbon and fold in half. Place a small bead of glue at top of the wooden circle, and affix ribbon in place.
- With foam brush, apply a thin layer of decoupage glue to the surface of the wooden circle, including the ribbon that is now glued onto the circle.
- Place decorative paper on top and press into place with your fingertips.
- With foam brush, apply a thin layer of decoupage glue to the back of the silhouette and place in the middle of the ornament. Secure the layers – especially where the ribbon is attached – with a clothespin while it dries.
- When dry, add a sealant if desired. This can be another layer of decoupage glue or spray-on sealant.
- Repeat to create additional ornaments.
To Make Wood Slice:
- First make the name banners. With a pencil, draw a scrolling banner (or use my template) on plain paper. Add name, centered in the banner. Dip your paintbrush in a small teacup of black tea and “paint” the tea over the paper until it’s as dark as you want. Let dry.
- When dry, trace over the pencil lines with black pen and erase the pencil marks. Carefully cut out just outside the lines with a craft knife.
- Place your silhouettes and name banners on the wood slice to decide where you want to place the elements. Be sure to leave enough room for the hooks.
- When you like the arrangement, glue everything in place with a thin layer of decoupage glue. Add a sealant, if desired.
- Add hooks and a sawtooth at the back to hang.
Again, I want to offer big, merry, crafty thanks to Michaels for the support (and most of the supplies) for these lo-fi DIY projects.