Friday, February 19, 2010


After meaning to do it for a very long time, I finally made these silhouettes of the girls:

Actually, first I made these silhouette's of Lizzie's kids, Laila and Owen, and then I made the ones of the girls.

When they were finished, and I was admiring my handiwork, I noticed something weird:to me, Laila and Owen looked much more like Laila and Owen when rendered in silhouette than my kids looked like themselves. Feeling curious about this, I wandered on over to Wikipedia, where I learned that a recent study at Stanford showed that, while most facial-recognition tests have been based on frontal images, people can actually identify gender and age just from a silhouette; that silhouettes are the "most immediately recognizable and indentifiable shape of the character." And I wonder if, in a way, we know our own children too well to recognize them easily, if they are too big, too complicated, too blurry around the edges for us to see them objectively, flattened out in black cardstock. I think I know Laila and Owen just enough to see in their silhouettes trademark markers, like Laila's bob and forehead wispies, as well as to imbue the small details with the sense of personality that I have pieced together through our visits and their mom's blog (from where I filched the photographes as source material).

Perhaps in support of my theory, Dave and I both recognized Eleri much more clearly in her portrait; I wonder if this is because we have not known her as long as Clio. Even now, neither of us feel that I truly captured Clio here: maybe because a serious Clio is simply not the Clio we known, and I did ask her to pose to capture a silhouette on film to have something to work from.

I hung my new artwork in our bedroom, which I think is funny because of the bird silhouettes on our bedding, but because of the placement by my side of the bed, I have noticed something else: out of the corner of my eye, Clio's profile may not capture her Clio-ness, but she sure looks, to me, an awful lot like me. And I find myself awed by the way a simple card stock cutout can both capture so much of a person's essence, while also reflecting a family lineage.

I should mention that, if you'd like to make these yourself, you can find the instructions here, on the wonderful blog design*sponge.

Or, if you want me to make one for you, go ahead and send me a profile picture (or, ideally, several) of the subject, and give me a color choice and style (traditional, feminine, modern) for the background, and I'll happily get to work.


Carrie Harrington said...


Before I even got to the bottom of your post, I found myself referring back to Clio's photo and thinking, "That looks just like Heather as a kid!"

Nice handiwork. I just saw those on design*sponge myself and felt a little inspired as well.


Rebecca said...

They turned out beautifully, Heather. I did the same project a couple of years ago as mother's day gifts for the Grandmas. Now I am wondering why I did not do one for myself...duh.

Anonymous said...

those are really nice, heather! funny, i'm planning to do this myself too. it looks like a fun project. two questions: 1) is the background fabric or paper? and 2) more importantly, please tell me your bed isn't always made so perfectly!

Heather Peterson said...

Jennifer, you're funny- my bed isn't always made so perfectly, but I do try at least on weekends, when I'm in the house more of the day. Our bedroom is tiny, so the bed makes a big difference, and the happiness that a made-be produces in me is well worth the effort! I do Clio's and Eleri's too.

The background is paper, though you could definitely use fabric- I'm just not sure how well the card stock would adhere. I bought scrapbooking paper from Michal's craft store for about 59 cents a sheet, and used 3M spraymount to adhere the two layers together.

Have fun!