Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Pinterest Challenge Part Deux: Immortalizing the Furries

Technically the Pinterest Challenge ended on Tuesday, but since the link is still open I thought I'd go ahead and add my second project. I've always loved silhouettes and have been planning to do portraits of the cats for some time now. Before I even knew Pinterest existed, I had saved this image from West Elm to my hard drive

and in my travels around Pinterest I came up with a few more examples I just loved (from here and here).

Silhouette portraits have been around for ages and were popular in American from the 1790s to the 1840s. Traditionally traveling silhouette artists would set up booths at fairs and markets and would cut their subjects out of black paper freehand and mount them on white or cream card stock. It was an inexpensive and quick way to get a likeness for those who did not have the time and money to sit for a formal painted portrait. After the camera was invented silhouette portraits declined in popularity, but the art form has carried into the 21st century and is still a fun way to create a likeness of a loved one and makes for a great graphic when purchased commercially.

For my project I decided to take advantage of all the fun scrap booking papers that are available and selected a patterned background for each cat and a coordinating solid to do the silhouette in - the space I wanted to hang my finished prints is really more suited for 4 frames in the size I had selected, and since I've only had 3 cats in my adult life (Chloe, Quincy, and Mia) I decided to include a kitten silhouette of Chloe (the other two were adopted as adults) and I did this in the reverse of her adult picture - solid back with patterned cut out.

The process was very easy. I chose photos of the cats based on the shape - it doesn't matter what the background looks like, if the lighting is good or bad or any of the other things you normally consider when evaluating photos, just make sure the shape is pleasing and that it will be pleasing in silhouette. Note the Pinterest examples above: you don't need to include the entire pet - the top dog on the left only shows the front 3/4 of the dog and the giraffe on the right is just the head and part of the neck. Make sure the details show, the head is either turned sideways or straight on, limbs either well defined or smoothly tucked under, and look for a photo that highlights your pet's personality or special features (in Quincy's case I had to have a shot of his curly tail). This photo of Chloe would NOT work because her head is turned in and the details of her face would be lost in silhouette - she'd look like a blob with legs and a strange point on her head.

I've known since the day the photo was taken that this picture of Mia (my brown tabby) would be the one I'd someday make into a silhouette. I just loved the arch of her back as she looked down her nose at Chloe and her head was enough in profile that even though her left ear wouldn't show in silhouette, it would just look like her head was turned to a full profile.

I printed the pictures out on standard copy paper (this one I flipped first), cut around the shape to make sure I liked what it looked like and it was the right size and then glued it face down on the back of the scrapbook paper with a glue stick.

Then I just cut around the shape with sharp scissors trying to keep my cuts smooth. When it was done I used the glue stick to glue it to the matted background paper. Remember it doesn't have to be centered - I love the dachshund in my example above and how he was kept low to the ground. Finally I  put everything in (cheap-o Dollar Tree) frames and voila!

Mia Michelle

Quincy Edward
I'm still finishing up Chloe's - it took me awhile to go through and find the photos I wanted of her and now I'm losing light so rather than rush through to get it done, I'll work on finishing them up later. I'll also be printing out four photographs of them that were taken on sheets and other colorful backgrounds so they almost look like photographic versions of the silhouettes and all eight pieces will be hung as a grouping, so look for that, I don't know, sometime or another.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thank you for sharing this on YHL! My cat just passed away this weekend and I've been trying to find a way to capture his presence in my too-empty house. This is perfect and I can't wait to make a creative silhouette myself!

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