DIY Silhouette: Create a Unique Family Portrait on a Frosted Mirror
Lately, I’ve been pondering unique approaches to the standard framed family photograph.
Looking to photography’s roots, the mid-19th century, I found a simple and sophisticated remedy. It was a status symbol to have your portrait taken back in the photograph’s founding days. If the resources weren’t available, families would turn to the silhouette as a less expensive mode for depicting their likeness.
I love the minimalism of representing oneself in simple lines and solid color. It gives the portrait a dignified timelessness. Rendering the portrait on a mirror adds a cool contemporary energy. With limited materials I’ve emulated past artists by fashioning a family portrait reminiscent of 19th century elegance.
Materials you’ll have around the house:
– Image equivalent to the mirror size
– Masking tape
– Glass frosting spray paint
– Contact paper (optional)
- Start by wrangling up the troops and taking side profile photographs. The kiddos might be a little squirmy and impatient, but this should be sweet solace compared to the amount of time one would have to hold completely still for a 19th century portrait. Have you ever wondered why sitters look so sulky in old photographs? It’s because it’s impossible – or at least incredibly unsatisfying – to hold a smile for a 15 minute exposure time!
- Print these images and decide where you’d like them positioned on the mirror. Proceed by tracing the mirror outline.
- Cut out the previously traced line.
- Then cut out the outline of the sitters head. Don’t start cutting from the edge of the image. Fold the image and cut a small slit within the face. This will act as a stencil when you paint.
- Optional: Trace this face on to a piece of contact paper and cut it out. Instead of keeping the negative space intact, make sure that the head is solid. This step is completely discretionary, but recommended if you’d like a super crisp line between the paint and mirror. I omitted it because I didn’t think to use contact paper until after the project was finished.If you are opting for the sans contact paper route and skipping the previous step, add tape loops to the back side of the negative space image. Adhere the paper to the mirror making sure that it is as tightly secure around the edges as you can. Also, attend to any mirror that might be showing through around the rim by taping it down. If you choose to use contact paper you will adhere the face – rather than the negative space – to the mirror.
- Finally, take your mirror and a drop cloth outside and spray paint the template.
And there you have it!
Do you have any creative wall display suggestions to show off your family portraits? Please share in the comments!