Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Making Faces

When Domino magazine featured a glorious pop-art living room by designer Thomas Paul in it's April 2006 issue, I was fascinated by the silhouette art grouped on one of the room's walls.  It was so simple, yet so stylish.  I loved how a centuries-old art form could so brilliantly complement such a modern aesthetic.  From that moment, I was determined to incorporate meaningful silhouettes into my personal designs. (And save every single issue of Domino magazine henceforth!)

Traditionally, silhouette art is cut by hand and dates back to early 17th century France.  Artists were hired to create hand-cut profile portraits of nobility and guests of the court.  In 1759, the French Minister of Finance, Etienne de Silhouette, took such a liking to the art form that he adopted it as his official pastime and his name was thereby stamped on the practice forever.  Silhouettes worked their way west in the 18th century and have been a means of capturing profiles and imaginations throughout generations.

As it so happens, the aforementioned (fabulous) issue of Domino offered a special deal on custom works by master silhouette artist Karl Johnson.  I promptly placed my order for a silhouette of my son who was one year old at the time.  I simply submitted a profile photo to Karl via email and he created a neatly cut silhouette from the photo.  A few weeks later, I nearly cried when I opened the small envelope from Karl...he had captured my son's profile perfectly.  A true treasure.

{The wonderful offer from Domino Mag and the beautiful hand-cut silhouette of my son by Karl.}

{Karl working his magic at a wedding featured in Martha Stewart Weddings!}

Silhouettes add such personality to a space.  I recently purchased a set of two velvet-tufted curved back chairs from Gypsy Soul, a cute little boutique in Bend, Oregon.  In an effort to re-design my living room (more on that later), I wanted the chairs to lend a feminine air to the quite masculine decor we already use in the space.  Let's just say, I'm going for "lodge chic"...when Northwest lodge style marries updated French Country.  (This is where my husband throws his head back and laughs.)  It's a work in progress.  I loved how black and white seemed to pop against the chairs, especially once the chairs were combined with a large gilded mirror and campaign table.  The graphic statement was a nice juxtaposition to the curved lines and distressing on each piece.  So I decided to make a striped pillow for one chair and breathe new life into a tiny footstool found at a local antiques shop by adding a silhouette image of our beloved black lab, Shadow.

{A time-worn vintage stool in need of a makeover.}

{Hooray! A new life!}

Similar to what Karl had done, but in a digital sense, I took a profile photo of Shadow and created a silhouette image by increasing the contrast in the photo until only a black outline image remained.  I cleaned it up a bit to be sure I had smooth lines and a solid image.  I then screen-printed the image onto black canvas fabric, also hand painting portions of the image to give it a textural quality.  It was very simple to pop the top off the stool and recover it with batting and my silhouette art, securing the new fabric with a staple gun.  I spray painted the stool's wooden base a glossy black before affixing the newly covered top with screws.  We now have a meaningful piece of furniture/art to display in our living room, and I'm over-the-moon with how it compliments our existing pieces.


There are so many wonderful ways you too can incorporate silhouettes into your style!

Some of my favorites:

{A brilliant headboard idea from HGTV!  A silhouette and chalkboard paint add tremendous style to this diy project.  I'm already planning to try this in my daughter's room!}

{Only Martha Stewart could whip up a cookie this cute!}

{Have your child's silhouette hand painted onto an oval canvas by Veronica at Le Petit Enfants.  
These two are of my children and I was delighted with Veronica's work!}

{For the bibliophile with a crush on Jane Austen, from my own line, Ma Chère Finery.}

{A lovely way to wear your devotion: custom silhouettes on a necklace. Made by Kerstin at Crafted by Kerstin.}

{Guests leave their thumbprints as balloons on this wonderfully creative commemorative wedding poster.  Custom made by Angela at Simply Silhouettes Weddings.}

{Angela is at it again with these fabulous customizable silhouette Christmas cards and tray! Made by Angela at Simply Silhouettes Holiday Shop.}

{This pair would look perfect on an old farmtable, or a shiny galvanized one for cool contrast! Made by Alyssa at BROOKLYNrehab.}

{Tote in style with this brilliant bag by Jimmy K Designs.}

{Country Living Magazine shares how a workspace and fireplace can be accented with silhouettes. Gorgeous!}

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