Friday, September 14, 2012

A Modern Twist on Silhouettes

There is something about the mystery of a silhouette that draws the onlooker in:
the detail of a life glimpsed through a shadow.

I found these antique prints for a good price some time back
and brought them home to add their elegance to our walls.
I thought they would look especially nice in our office off of the kitchen.
The "pantry" closet that my husband built from old barn wood gives the room
an old feel.

However, they are small;
I needed something more to hang with them,
so I thought perhaps I could try out my own silhouettes.

I had picked up these oval frames at a yard sale,
and decided they were a perfect size and shape
(eventually, I decided to change them to black as well).

I used these supplies for this project.

At first, I thought I would use an image from the Graphic Fairy...

but then I rummaged through my own photos
and found two I preferred.

The first picture was of my oldest children riding out in the driveway together.

Measuring the frame,
I printed the picture up,
enlarging it to a size that would fit the frame.

I then taped the picture to the INSIDE of the glass in the frame...

and, using the fine-tipped permanent marker,
I traced the important details on the OUTSIDE
of the glass.

I repeated this same process on the second frame...

with a favorite picture of my youngest daughter.

I then flipped the glass over and on the INSIDE of the glass,
I used the fine-tipped paint pen to fill in the details,
leaving unpainted areas to help accentuate.

Because the paint would fleck off rather easily from the glass when dried,
when I made a mistake,
I easily scraped it off with my nail,
or just washed the whole thing off and started over again as the permanent marker remained on the front.

Once I had the image the way I wanted it,
I let it dry;
I then sprayed a good layer of permanent varnish on the painted side.
(Spray varnish is the only choice
as painting a varnish would have chipped the delicate painting off.
A clear spray paint would likely do the job as well).

The sprayed picture was sticky for an hour or more,
so I let it set up for a day before adding a background piece of paper
and then the backing
(I used the "Yes" glue to adhere the background paper to the backing).

I also washed the front of the glass where the permanent marker tracing was.
I used a piece of paper towel dipped in alcohol for this.

When I look at the antique silhouettes,
I am amazed at the amount of detail somebody painted in,
the fine lines;

it is intricate!

It was fun creating a couple of meaningful silhouette pieces,
and my attempts made me appreciate the amazing work somebody else had done many years back.


My office now has a bit of vintage
married with my modern vintage...

A bit of graceful fun in a mysterious sort of way,
don't ya think?


  1. Your silhouettes turned out beautifully. I had no idea that is how they were made. You might want to check out the Monday party at Mod Vintage Life, it is for mod and vintage things mixed together.

  2. This is absolutely precious--what a lovely application of your talent!

  3. You make it look so easy. However, I know that's not the case. Really enjoy seeing what you create. Heard you and Violet won prizes at the fair. Would love to see the pieces you ladies entered.

  4. I love silhouettes but these are even better because it's your children! I'm pinning this. ~ Maureen

  5. Robin Matteson SiegfriedSeptember 14, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Tonya!,it's so amazing the things that go on in your head all the time!, you're always thinking and creating wonderful things! I know you're sometimes hard on yourself, but you are blessed with such a creative and wonderful mind, and you're very talented!, Congratulations on Violet's ribbon, and yours as well!

  6. Hi - I just found you via Miss Mustard Seed's Friday furniture feature. I just have to say wow, what creativity and talent you have! I don't know if I can pull this off but hoping to give it a whirl! Thanks so much for sharing.

    P.S. Love that pantry your hubby made too - for all the world it looks like it belongs in a wonderful old farmhouse!!!

    CyndyB from NE Texas

  7. Love this idea! I wonder if you could actually outline the silhouette with the glue gun!

  8. WOW!!!! Love this idea, and I am going to try! Pinning it! Thanks so much for sharing this at Rustic Restorations Weekend!

  9. Those are so cute, and I love the way you mixed them with the "traditional" ones.

    Great job!


  10. I love this idea so much. These would make wonderful gifts too!

    Such a wonderful idea.
    Thanks for showing it and for stopping by Corn...Pat

  11. Oh what a beautiful idea, I love this! Found you via A diamond in the stuff

  12. VERY good work! A technique I've never come across. Thank you!

  13. I love this project! Combining your talent with images of your kids makes this even more meaningful - an heirloom piece!

  14. That is an AWESOME project. I'm adding that to our homeschool art curriculum this year!

  15. I love this so much! What a great idea. I love how you used photos that meant something to you.


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