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Bishop Hill Illinois | Silhouette

Hand Cut Silhouette Portraits

In the tradition of the great profile paper artists of the nineteenth century, I employ a simple box camera, a camera obscura, to record perfect likenesses of my clients. This device allows me to faithfully draw a true and accurate profile of any subject. I cut this profile sketch from the finest imported French silhouette paper and mount it on card stock. An "instant heirloom" can be created as my subject watches and waits!

For folks unable to visit Bishop Hill, I design and cut silhouettes from photographs provided by my clients. I have produced hundreds of paper profile portraits from digital images. Please review these suggestions before taking or sending photographs to me. The top photo of a young boy at right seems good, but it does not expose enough of his profile to cut an accurate likeness. It is important that the photographer be on the same eye level as his subject (in this case he is looking down) and that his subject is seated looking forward, revealing nothing of the far side of his face.

The next photo demonstrates the proper angle and position of the subject. This is exactly the kind of photo I need to cut a crisp and lifelike silhouette. While I can change hairstyle and clothing, or add or subtract hats, I can't produce an accurate profile without the proper image!

I accept printed photos by mail and digital images of subjects by email; clients may opt to send material by any carrier. Whatever I receive will be returned.


The traditional size of a silhouette bust portrait is between three and four inches in height. This size fits a standard five by seven inch frame. If you would prefer a larger cutting, please request the size. If you are interested in a full-body portrait, please provide two photos: one profile of the head and shoulders and a full-body pose as you would like the subject to be appear in the finished portrait. All silhouettes are special order and require direct contact with me (in person, mail, e-mail, or by phone) to ensure your satisfaction.

The cost of each commission changes with the degree of detail and number of subjects, but these are the basic portrait prices:

Bust silhouette     $30.00
Duplicate bust       $5.00
Full body silhouette     $45.00
Duplicate full body     $10.00

Click figure for samples

poor photo

perfect photo

sketch to cut

finished portrait


The Feathered Nest at Windy Corner
Beth Magnuson, owner and proprietor

Located three blocks west of the Bishop Hill Village Park
Across from the Colony School
508 West Main Street • PO Box 185 • Bishop Hill, IL 61419
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Please call ahead; open by appointment