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Just a Shadow of Your Former Self  
A Child's Silhouette Project


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A Child's Silhouette Project

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FunIf you have ever frequented a yard sale, antique auction or even watched an antique show on television, you may have noticed black cutouts in the shape of a person's head matted and framed for display. What you were looking at were silhouettes, an art form dating back to the ancient Chinese dynasties. The practice first appeared in the United States in the eighteenth century when the pieces were referred to as "shades." As a youngster yourself, you may have even made your own silhouette as a craft project.

Helping your child make a silhouette is a quick and easy craft project that can be done with minimal time and effort. The resulting piece (paired with a simple mat and frame) makes a wonderful gift for parents, grandparents, or other close family members.

What you will need:

  • Chair or stool
  • Sharp pencil
  • Large sheets of white drawing paper
  • Black paper or black construction paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Adhesive tape
  • Bright light source (a desk lamp, or floor lamp)
  • Ready-made mat to fit an 8"x10" frame
  • An 8"x10" ready-made frame (available at most craft and department stores)

Begin by hanging a large piece of white paper on the wall of a room that can be darkened completely. Place a chair or stool in front of the paper and place your light source in front of the chair, pointing it towards the paper on the wall. Have the subject sit on the chair sideways to be able to capture his or her profile in the silhouette.

Turn the light source on and adjust the distance to produce the sharpest shadow on the paper. The closer the subject is placed to the light source the more definition you will be able to produce in the silhouette. A halogen bulb in the lamp will help you get a very defined shadow image. However, halogen bulbs get very hot—so be especially careful with how long you have the subject sit in front of the light and how closely he or she sits.

Have the subject sit as still as possible while you (or your child) use a pencil to draw an outline of the subject's head, neck, and shoulders on the white paper. By adjusting the light source and the distance of the subject to the paper, you can make the silhouette approximately the size you want to fit in an 8" x 10" ready-made frame. If you have access to a photocopier, you can reduce or enlarge the outline to the size you prefer.

FunOnce the outline of the subject has been transferred to the white paper on the wall, the subject is free to move. Remove the paper from the wall and lightly apply glue from a glue stick to the back of the paper and attach it to a piece of black paper, outline side up. Using safety scissors, carefully cut around the outline. The more accurately you cut into the details of the image, the more defined and recognizable the final silhouette will be. Remove the white paper from the final black silhouette. Apply a bit more glue to the back of the black paper silhouette and position it onto a fresh piece of white paper, pressing down firmly to secure the papers together.

Place both pieces into a ready-made frame (mat board first then the silhouette with backing paper), secure in place with tape and your silhouette project is complete! Let your child have fun on both sides of the creative process with this project—first as the subject, then as the silhouette maker as you or a sibling take the role of silhouette subject!

Light bulbs do get hot, adult supervision is recommended with children undertaking this craft.

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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