Friday, December 30, 2016

This was my big project for Christmas gifts this year. In fact, I made four sets of these! Three for grandparent gifts and one for myself to keep. I love the way these turned out. I even made my Mom cry when she opened hers! 

These pull on the old heart strings for sure. I'm not sure why they are so much more special than a photograph. They give off a cool vintage vibe for sure, but more than that I think the silhouette leaves room for your own mind to fill in the gaps. When you truly love a child you know their soft innocent features so well. 

You can imagine them this way forever, the way their nose turns up a little. You can almost hear their laugh and imagine the way their lips widen out into a smile, you can even see her sweet little dimple on this cheek, even though its not there in the actual print. It's like a perfect time capsule of the preciousness of childhood. 

PLEASE make these of your children. Your future (and present self) will thank you for this special gift.

I wanted to show you this surprisingly simple process:

Materials you will need: 

exacto knife 
extra blades
cutting mat 
black cardstock 
printed out portrait silhouette 
scrapbook paper 

1. Take a photo 

(I just used my iphone camera) directly from the side of your child's head. It helps to have them stand in front of a sunny window or a white wall, so that the shape of their profile is easy to see and contrasts nicely.

2. Print out the photo 

and tape it to a piece of black cardstock paper that is the same size. (Here you can see I was running out of printer ink, but that really doesn't matter. You only need to see the general shape of their profile.) Tape both pieces of paper together down onto a cutting mat for stability.

3. Trace around the profile

using a pencil or pen. This step is important because you will enhance the outline for a more interesting finished silhouette. I mostly followed the outline there but accentuated the little hairs sticking out and holes where little tufts of hair came up. You will want to draw in some eyelashes. They don't normally show up in the profile, but this added detail really makes the portrait in my opinion. 

Add some visual interest by drawing a few slits around a collar to show the shape of the clothing.

5. Use an exacto knife to cut it out.

Make sure your blade is nice and sharp and take your time! Don't forget to cut out the lashes! You will be cutting through two layers of paper, so make sure the pressure you are using is good enough, otherwise you will have to go back over the whole thing again.

6. Carefully pull away the silhouette from the rest of the paper. 

 Be gentle with this part as some areas may not have cut out all the way. You can use your knife to go back and cut again if this happens. When it is all out, there may still be some fuzzy parts, make sure and go back to trim these off carefully. Again, the sharper your blade the better!

In the final stage I actually trimmed off the boxey bottom of the shape and made a curved collar, just by eyeballing it. You can do that too or just leave as is. 

7. Frame the shape and sign the name at the bottom

In this step, you want to find a nice paper to put behind the silhouette. I found this paper that has a vintage almost lace quality but was not too distracting from the silhouette itself. There are literally hundreds of options at your local craft store to choose from! You could also stick with basic white as well. 

Here I used the insert that came with the frame to cut out an identical size from the paper. Then I simply used a nice glue stick to carefully glue down the silhouette onto the center of this paper.

Look at this beautiful shape. Love it so much.

For each child I used a good quality black pen to sign their name and age under the silhouette. 

Voila! Stick it in a frame and call it childhood magic.


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