It’s In the Details

by Stefani on 2-October-2007

When I was a little girl I loved to visit my Aunt June’s house. She has a winding staircase, and a grand piano, and untouchable things in glass cases. Her home, to me, was like a fairy castle.

Aunt June had these tiny little silhouettes in frames. They were fascinating and seemed very special to me. I remember thinking that you would have to be very beautiful, and very good to have one made of you. Only the very beautiful could cast a shadow interesting enough, and only the very good could sit still long enough to have it drawn.

So, when I ran across a photo of a set of thrifted silhouettes (of three boys!), here, I decided that had to try to make some of my young men.

Who, incidentally, are very beautiful, and very good, but not so very still. I didn’t think that we could manage the “sit in front of a piece of paper while I shine a light on you and trace your shadow” technique.

So, I took profile shots of them with the camera. I printed them, laid them over black paper, and taped the pages down to a cutting board. Then, I did a little dance with the exacto, and came up with these:

My Three Sons

I’m really very pleased with them. I think that I will treasure those little fly-away hairs, chubby cheeks and poufy uppper lips when my little boys have gone, and big angular-faced men have taken their places.

Sweet Boy

Something about their silhouettes, to me at least, captures childhood so well. It is a vaporous thing, a thing that can’t be defined. You can take photos, journal, scrapbook, even videotape it, and you’ll do a pretty great job of outlining it’s sweetness, but the sounds and the smells, the details, you just can’t ever capture them all. I guess that’s what makes it so precious. All this messy fun and mind boggling joy is a limited time offer.

Speaking of capturing. While I was taking pictures of my newly framed creations, I heard the back door open and close. A couple of minutes later, when I decided to see who had gone out to play, I came around the corner to find this scene:

Sneaky Pez Thief

1) When did he learn to open the door himself?
2) Dear God, my door desperately needs a date with a bottle of Windex.
3) Is that my laundry basket in the backyard?
4) That funny little punk has snuck out back with his brother’s candy! He’s furiously downing the Pez before anyone is the wiser!

I opened the door. He jumped out of his skin, gave me a pink teethed grin and said, “I don’t have any candy.”


Mmm hmmm.

Lori October 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm

the pez story made me laugh out loud.

what a great idea to use a photograph for the silhouettes rather than the old overhead projector method! much better for wiggly boys. kudos to you!

Molly October 2, 2007 at 9:35 pm

What a funny boy. I could imagine each of my kids doing something like that – they are candy addicts. I made silhouettes of the kids last year and I absolutely love them. Have you seen Kidding Around’s Trio? Just beautiful. I love the backgrounds you chose.

Sarah Jackson October 2, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Too cute! What a little stinker.

I have those silhouettes as well, of the older two kids that were done when they were in kindergarten. We’ll do Annika’s this year. Yours look fantastic!

Kelly October 3, 2007 at 12:09 am

Love the silhouettes and the pez story was laugh out loud funny, i could just imagine those pink teeth! -kb

Diane October 3, 2007 at 5:17 am

Hee hee hee good for him! Soon he’ll realize he should go out the door quietly so as not to alert his mother and her camera to the evidence! Looks like fall has arrived with the Pez wrapper…

kristin October 3, 2007 at 5:24 am

dang, girl, inspired again…

i want to do this TODAY.

Angela October 3, 2007 at 5:25 am

The silhouettes are priceless treasures. And you did such a great job setting them off with the mats and frames!

The Pez encounter made me laugh. Sneaky Spy Day wasn’t lost on him, I see!

Tracy October 3, 2007 at 5:27 am

Those silhouettes are beautiful! I love the 3 different fall-y colors, and the little special details in each one. So nice!

Jessica Hood October 3, 2007 at 5:33 am

wow! i love these! and i love the fall motif you have going on in the set up. very nice.

Sarah October 3, 2007 at 5:42 am

haha, the pez cracks me up.

Their profiles are so similar!

kirsten October 3, 2007 at 6:37 am

love them, i’ve been wanting to do this for a while – i’m just not even sure i could get them to stay still long enough to get a shot! but if i wait much longer they won’t be nearly as precious!!!

leslie October 3, 2007 at 6:54 am

oh, why didn’t i do this when they were smaller? heck, 7,9,12 is better than 40,42,46! i’m on it!!!!
love the story about your little guy….sounds like something my youngest would have done, or DID!

Donna October 3, 2007 at 7:37 am

There are certain stages of childhood that both exasperate and delight me–learning the importance of sneaking is one of them.

The silhouettes turned out great, thanks for the tips.

Fabricated Goddess October 3, 2007 at 8:09 am

Lovely silhouettes…Lovely photos…..Lovely blog….really spectacular. I think sometimes I do NaBloPoMo not so much to challenge myself or increase traffic to my site, but to find new favorite internet haunts.


Sarah October 3, 2007 at 8:38 am

Ah, we’ve had pez disappear in a very similar fashion!

What a lovely idea with the silhouette pictures, maybe for Christmas presents…

Lisa October 3, 2007 at 9:03 am

Came across your blog through NaBloPoMo. You take beautiful photos. I linked you up and will be back for more. 🙂

Teaque October 3, 2007 at 9:36 am

So you arent’ going to reveal how you made the silhouettes are you?? When I taught school we did them with the overhead projector what did you use at home?

erin October 3, 2007 at 10:31 am

love the silhouettes. they have been on my project to do list for a long time…your post might just give me the push i need!

lacy October 3, 2007 at 12:32 pm


You have SUCH an elegant way of writing. It’s picturesque and whimsical. Sweet, indeed. Also, I love that you take time to savor every bite out of life. Your little ones are precious, and the silhouette idea is brilliant.

You really inspire me and I feel lucky that we are chicks together!


lacy October 3, 2007 at 12:35 pm

OOOh! By the way…I saw you like patty griffin! I love the song, “heavenly day” I think it’s called. Just discovered her actually! yay. 😉

molly October 3, 2007 at 12:38 pm

this so perfectly captures the beauty of silhouettes. I made some of our girls for my husband on father’s day. I think I cherish them just as much as he does. there is something so unique and special about them. they are a joy to have hanging in our home.

different note: how do you like that lucinda williams CD? i think we have pretty similar tastes in music….

Kris October 3, 2007 at 2:04 pm

gorgeous silhouettes, and hysterical story. Gosh, my children have never done anything like that! 😉

Amy October 3, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Those are spectacular! I need to find someone to do that of Bea soon. Not me. Me and paper crafts don’t mix. Those colors you picked for the mats (?) are so perfect — fally… Love the set up with pumpkins and feathers too. So good.

Lucy.R.E. October 3, 2007 at 7:33 pm

oh, those silhouettes are just lovely. i’m far from having children with sentimental profiles for me to capture, but when i do, i hope they’re as charming as yours. 🙂

cloth.paper.string October 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

love, love these silhouettes! the boys are so dear — and the colors and matting/framing job you did is perfect.
many thanks for sharing the process you used to create them. i’m looking forward to capturing the wispies on my little ones head this same way.

cloth.paper.string October 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

love, love these silhouettes! the boys are so dear — and the colors and matting/framing job you did is perfect.
many thanks for sharing the process you used to create them. i’m looking forward to capturing the wispies on my little ones head this same way.

Anna October 9, 2007 at 11:00 am

i’ve done an electronic version of the silhouette cutout…using a photo and layers in adobe illustrator. i have grand ideas of printing the finished product on iron-on paper and transferring it to pillows, or some other fabric-y place. one of these days… 😉
i love the way your three boys turned out.

dianeinjapan October 9, 2007 at 9:03 pm

What a great job you did on the silhouettes! I remember having a silhouette of First Child done in a mall six or seven years ago, by a “professional”–and it ended up looking nothing like her. Wish I’d made my own when both kids were younger…

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