For the edification of all our readers I did a little research on the origin of this shadow play.
Apparently in 1759, French finance minister, Etienne de Silhouette, found a cheaper way to capture the likenesses of the French people. With the severe economic demands on the county post the Seven Year's War, people were quick to request this art, as photography would not become available for another 80 years. (Its also important to note, that shadow puppetry had been functioning as entertainment and historical education in Indonesia for centuries. Hurray for Puppets!!)
Okay, I won't lie, this post was sparked by searches into fun jewelry and antiquing for my sister, Amanda (see my post: Buried Treasure). Having just seen the new Alice in Wonderland movie and reading Alice I Have Been, a fictional account of Alice Liddell, the girl who supposedly inspired Lewis Carroll to write the classic tale, I have reclaimed my fascination for Victorian Era finery. I purchased this today.
In the same family are cameos. A favorite of sister Amanda, cameos are a beautiful blend of relief artistry and Victorian silhouette charm. They add a touch of class to any outfit and always seem to be a conversation starter. "Where did you get that?" "Oh, it's a family heirloom.... a little shop in Florence... this thrift shop."
Arts and Crafts
Like I said, it all began in France but Victorian era England produced some of the most lovely pieces.
I also think it makes an absolutely awesome craft for young and old alike. For those of us up to a challenge, you can be as detailed as possible. I remember one of Puppetry friends cutting her shadow puppet silhouettes with nail scissors! For those with a little less patience (or dexterity) making silhouettes is a great Rainy Day Craft! Here is a step-by-step guide that I used for inspiration during my art camp counseling days.
Silhouetting does not have to be confined by busts. Framing one of your own failures and displaying in your home is definitely Victorian and a fun wall accessory, but what if you don't want to harken back to the days of corsets and coy ladies. Any bold pattern without any inner details can give that silhouette feel.
Before I close for the evening, I want to give one more shout out to Shadow Puppets! I recently was given this
And I think you will love watching this, one of the original use of animation ever! I could go on about this piece by Lotte Reiniger forever, but I'll let you admire her work and be inspired!