Playing with Shadows

My favorite gifts from my children are those that are crafted in their youth. Teachers have all affected our lives in many ways and I have an art display using my kids’ profiles, which a teacher helped them  make for a valentine’s day long, long ago! (or at least before they were IN or thinking about college!)

Valentine’s Day is 10 days away and it got me thinking about the faces of innocence. I have only two valentines that I have framed and they are the individual silhouettes of my son and daughter. I can only imagine the day they were asked to sit still while a light flashed on them so that the projector would cast shadows of their little heads. Two sheets of paper make up this simple gift that means so much to me—a white background with a black piece of construction paper that serves as the filled-in outline and side-view of their faces.

 See the art wall that is enhanced for the holiday with a sweet offering from Letter2Word's new Valentine collection.

kid portraits

If you don’t have the silhouette of a favorite person, there are ways to recreate them from pictures that are scanned then copied, outlined and cut out, then filled in or painted to make the profile of that face. Just search “making a silhouette” on the internet to choose the best way for you. Here’s a simple and economical way to produce a frameable: The Anderson Crew – make your own silhouette picture

 My framed pieces not only remind me of the days when I played pirates and princesses when my kids were small, they remind me of a favorite story and Disney movie that we watched over and over. Peter Pan was a family favorite and seeing that silhouette of Peter makes the memory flood back to a different time.

This Disney classic was based on a play that Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie wrote about a leader of the Lost Boys who travels back and forth to place called Neverland, located “the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.”

Early in Barrie’s play, Peter Pan arrives to the stage in search of his lost shadow. In the film Peter Pan, Peter was visiting the Darling household when the dog (Nana) barked at the uninvited guest and he flew away but left his shadow behind. When Wendy Darling discovered the shadow, she stored it in her dresser to keep it out of trouble.

On a return trip to the Darling’s home, Peter Pan and his pixie friend Tinker Bell find the shadow. Peter then tries to put it back on with soap. Wendy to the rescue, trying not to laugh, she uses a needle and thread to reattach it and soon Peter’s black shadow is back in action!

Peter Pan movie

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.Is a sweet quote to remember from Peter Pan (

 I have always been under the assumption that the word SILHOUETTE just meant “shadow” or “profile” in French. It actually has a real Frenchman to thank for its pretty name – Etienne de Silhouette. He didn’t invent the black profile on a white background – images of those appeared long before he was appointed by the royal court of Louis the XV. In fact, black silhouette-like images can be seen in Stone Age cave paintings or in museums on ancient Greek pottery. Etienne de Sillhouette was the French Minister of Finance circa 1759. Here is where the story gets complicated—

I’ve read that he was loved by the rich and hated by the poor, he was hated by the rich but was good at making the silhouettes, and that he graced his chateau with silhouette portraits when he retired.

Etienne de Silhouette

Silhouette portraits were so called simply because they came into fashion in the year (1759) in which M. de Silhouette was minister. [A. Brachet, "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, 1882]

On a recent visit to New York City with my daughter, we were able to see a wonderful Broadway musical called Finding Neverland, starring Mathew Morrison (a talented Broadway regular and known as Mr. Shue on the television show, Glee . Look at the playbill and note the use of silhouettes in black and in color with pixie dust and stars.


Follow this link and press "music" to hear the Finding Neverland soundtrack that touches anyone’s heart as it’s a story of love and embracing your imagination—a perfect reminder that Valentine’s Day is around the corner!


broadway show

 My daughter ready to go into the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City as the sun sets and the shadows come out to play!

Valentine's Day is on its way and now maybe you can make someone's day special by creating a silhouette or just telling them about the word that describes an age-old art that captures a face at its sweetest!

“All you need is faith , trust, and a little bit of pixie dust” - PETER PAN

By Ann K. Nicknish (The Blogging Word Girl)

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