AHG Merit Badge Help – Pen & Paper #27 – Silhouettes

It has been a while since I have posted merit badge helps on a regular basis. I hope that with the new year, I can get back to posting them regularly. This month I plan to focus on the Pen and Paper Merit Badge found in the 2015 Supplemental Handbook. Requirement 27, wants the girls to learn about silhouettes.

Before the invention of cameras and photography in the 1800’s, individuals would commission an artist to paint their portraits.  However, these were very pricey and only available to the very wealthy. An economical alternative was to have a silhouette cut.

The origins of silhouette art varies slightly by source, but is linked to French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette.  In its purest form, an artist, using only paper and scissors, create an image of an individual’s likeness. Traditionally the image is created on black paper and then mounted on a white (or light colored) background.

Very few “true” silhouette artists can be found today. Many individuals classified as silhouette artists use computers and photography to create silhouettes.  And while this is an option, I do not believe that is intended to be used when completing the requirement.

If you are looking for a video to learn more about Silhouettes, I would recommend the following:

YouTube. (2016, April 16).
Silhouette artist; A master at paper cuts
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjwEZ3MnqSI

YouTube. (2010, June 28).
How to cut a paper silhouette
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WCLnZmrtxY

YouTube. (2013, August 30).
Learning to do portrait silhouettes
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs1fPzg0jKs

The first video, like most of the videos found on YouTube, is a short biography with a demonstration.  The second one, does provide more details, but is not the best quality.  The final video, at over 13 minutes, is very dated, but provides the best instruction and “how to” pointers for when you are ready to create your own silhouette art.

NOTE: The requirements have been simplified here. Please be sure to read the full text in the American Heritage Girl Handbook to make sure you fully understand the requirements.


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