Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Silhouettes

I just borrowed a very cool book from the library called Pennsylvania Dutch Halloween Scherenschnitte by Peter v. Fritsch.
It's really just a book of spooky silhouettes that will hopefully inspire you in paper cutting crafts, or perhaps embroidery.  This is a very rewarding, if meticulous craft to practice.  A few years back when Martha Stewart had her own online craft shop (prior to selling through Michael's) I had purchased a Halloween-inspired paper cutting kit.  The paper used in the kit was double sided, black on one side, white on the other where the cutting lines were printed.  Once you had the design cut out, you flipped the paper to the black side and pasted it onto a white background sheet, then matted and/or framed the whole thing.  Below are some of the projects I finished, but I feel I must apologize in advance for my poor photography skills.


The projects took forever but I loved doing them.  It was a great way to spend a mild fall afternoon, sitting outside with my self-healing rotary mat in my lap as I carefully cut away with an Xacto knife.  This practice is especially relaxing with a glass of wine, but as I'm sure you already know, sharp cutting instruments and copious amounts of alcohol are not a good mixture.  So I guess what I'm saying is "moderation in all things."

And since we're on the topic of silhouettes and cutouts, let me share some pictures of pumpkin carvings I've done over the years.  I like to use fake pumpkins so that I can always store them in the garage and have an abundance of beautifully carved pumpkins each year.

I normally will use the pumpkin carving templates by Pumpkin Masters.  I like to buy their yearly book of templates and photocopy the template I intend to use, thereby saving the original for future years and pumpkins.  Each book has some basic directions on how to cut out patterns.

The white pumpkin above was cut out from a silhouette I found in a magazine advertisement.  So as you can see, you can be quite creative in selecting your patterns

 Another of my nerdy passions is a love of fun and creative fonts.  It's always a difficult thing to find a font that is original and creative and embodies the feeling you are trying to convey, while still being easily legible.  For a couple of years now I've been utterly enchanted with a free font called Burton's Nightmare, which is obviously inspired by Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.  What I've done is to print out a saying in my chosen font and appropriate size, then use the printout as my carving pattern.  However, you do need to beware of any cuts that may ruin your pumpkin by cutting out entire circles rather than almost-closed loops.  For instance, when carving the pumpkins below for the library, I had to take care to leave my letters O and R open at the tops and bottoms so as not to ruin the effect.
If you look closely at the white pumpkin above, you'll see I made that very mistake when carving out the octopus tentacles on the right side.  The only way to fix the mistake was to carve a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin so I could reach my hand inside and use a large piece of clear packing tape to tape the section in place.

What I love most about silhouettes is their versatility.  You can cut them out of paper, carve them into pumpkins, embroider them to create a sampler, applique them onto a quilt or handbag; the high contrast possibilities are endless!  You could even create large silhouettes to project onto the outside of your house or illuminate in a window, but I think I'll save that for my next posting.

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