Silhouettes or Shadowgraph Projects

Silhouettes or Shadowgraph Projects
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Shademakers were peddlers who traveled the backroads of early America creating pictures called silhouettes or shadowgraphs, for families. These were actually a cheap alternative to oil portraits, which were very expensive. They were traditionally drawn in black and white, though some artists did use colored ink. They came in all sizes, though the majority of the silhouettes were less than 3 inches high!
You can make old fashioned silhouettes at home with a few simple items:

masking tape

flash light


large sheets of paper-one dark and one light (for each person)



Optional: frame and mat board

This is a family project since you will need several people! Set a chair in front of a blank wall. Set one of your children on the chair in front of the wall. Someone will need to stand with the flashlight on the opposite side of the chair facing the wall. You will need to tape your piece of paper to the wall where the shadow of your child is centered on the paper. Turn off all the lights and trace the details of their face as they look to the side-so you are tracing their profile.

Have everyone take turns so you can trace each family member. With a scissors cut out the tracing, and glue it onto a dark piece of paper. This is your silhouette! You can frame it, or cut the edge of the dark paper with fancy edged craft scissors and give them as gifts to grandparents. You can even play a guessing game and let everyone guess which shadowgraph belongs to each person! This is an easy, old fashioned project for everyone in the family.

About the Author:

Brenda Hyde is Mom to three little ones, a freelance writer and editor here at OldFashionedLiving.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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