Since I’m trying to make most of my holiday gifts this year, I decided to make silhouettes of our children. I went with a traditional interpretation, but you could use colored papers, do full-body action silhouettes, add design elements to the background, make your portraits face one another, or any number of other creative things.

I’ll give the step-by-step process because this is a project that anyone can do, though it was a little tedious.


-digital camera

-acid free craft paper for silhouettes and background


-sharp scissors

-acid-free spray adhesive

Step 1: Take a photo in profile. Upload this to the computer and re-size to the size that you’d like your silhouette to be (I made mine 5″ high on an 8″ square background). I used photoshop, but I’m sure that you could do this in other photo programs.

Step 2: Print image and trace the outline of the profile (I did this with a sharpie so it came through the paper and I could get an idea from the back side of what it would look like). I then cut out this image. Now is the time to make changes. I added the eyelashes because you couldn’t really see them in my photos and I embellished the hair-dos. I first made the silhouettes of Eva without the bow and realized she looked like Darth Vader so had to start again. My children have very straight hair, but curls would be so pretty in a silhouette and you would not be faced with the helmet-head problem.


Step 3: Tape cut-out photo to silhouette paper and cut around the edges (or you could just trace the design onto the back). Now is the time to think about which way you want your silhouettes to face. I read somewhere that the secret to cutting details and curves is to move the paper and not your scissors. This is good advice. I cut off several eyelashes and had to start again. Do those first in case you screw them up. Also it helps to cut off the bulky pieces of paper first to make your cutting more manageable.

Step 4: Spray adhesive to back of silhouette and place on backing paper. Frame them up and — voila! — a great gift for the family that you can enjoy for years.


This project took me several hours. Just be sure that you are relaxed and able to concentrate during the cutting stage as this is the most difficult part. Mine did not turn out perfectly, but I am pleased with the end result, especially since they are my children’s sweet little faces (you can see that my two-year-old sucks her bottom lip). How sweet!

Preserving Children’s Artwork


I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with my children’s artwork as it is beginning to pile up and my four-year-old is creating some nice pieces. I’m getting some framed; but I’m also looking for creative ideas aside from the usual refrigerator, clothesline or wall display. I took Eva’s “Mud Monster” that she drew last spring and digitized it for my embroidery machine (above). Someone’s getting a Mud Monster pillow for Christmas! Eva really enjoyed being involved in the process and was proud of the finished product. I’m thinking of offering customized kid’s designs in my shop, but it’s a pretty time-consuming process. We’ll see.

But with all this technology readily accessible, you can have your kid’s artwork made into tees, coasters, large-scale canvases, mugs, bags, magnets, calendars, stationery, mouse pads, uhm…playing cards, and lots more. These are all great (for you and your family). Here are a few other ideas:

-Take photographs of the artwork before you pitch it. Make a collage or a DVD.

Totally Out of Hand: They can create customized jewelry from your child’s artwork.

-Make wrapping paper. Assuming your kid approves of this use of her artwork, sounds like a good idea and also a great way to reuse something! We go through a lot of paper in our house.

-Collage it. At the end of the year, you and your child can cut up the work and choose the best images to be made into a fabulous collage. I see this turning into a possible decoupage project — literally, an art table.

-Sew it. I like the free-hand sewing that I’ve seen lately and it lends itself well to children’s designs. Check out this creation from angry chicken. Or you can quilt it — take a look at this quilt square from sewcatherine. Don’t have a sewing machine? Re-create the work of art with felt and embroidery floss.

-Shrink it. I love shrinky dinks and keep meaning to make something. The possibilities are endless with miniature plastic! Just trace the artwork or have your child draw directly on the plastic. Check out this link for making your own. Caution on that plastic in the oven thing.

Artimus Art: Not tech-savvy or crafty? This site lets you mail them your artwork where they will upload it and create an online gallery for you, then store it in climate-controlled storage (better than the floor of the closet?). You can also order a bound book.

-Have your child illustrate his own books. We keep an extra long stapler around the house and make blank books for Eva to draw and write stories. These “books” occupy her for several days and can be stored easily or given as presents. You could also have your child dictate a story to you and print out the text.

Other thoughts, ideas, links? Please comment.

Smart Little Bunny

I’ve been looking through the old books that I had as a child and I love “B is for Bear” by Dick Bruna (Dutch version pictured above). I’m lucky that my mother was such a packrat since the book is now out of print, although it is pretty worn. The illustrations are pure form and color, which I find really appealing. Best known as the creator of Miffy, Dick Bruna is still working in the Netherlands and has produced over 100 children’s books. His pictographic style was incredibly innovative and it makes sense that he was influenced by modern artists like Picasso and Matisse and De Stijl movement of the early 20th century.

You can find some of the older Dick Bruna titles like Snuffy (below, Dutch spelling), Cinderella, and Snow White at amazon, and the Miffy site has some nice graphics and games.