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Charlie Chaplin interactive
Tableaux Al Fresco:
Walking Paintings
Airbrush Facepainting
Facepainting, illustrative style
Western skills and shows
Renaissance : the new vaudeville
Corporate event offerings
Interactive / Roving performances
Variety Stage
Fire-eating artistry  
Handwriting analysis for special events: for entertainment purposes only  (currently under preparation)


Magic & sleight of hand
Flea Circus


"WhipFlash!": fire and whip
--The Bullet Catch
--The Wheel of Death
WhipFlash in the media


Airbrushed creations
Design and innovation
Signs and Banners
Custom Props 

Historical Style Wood Pocketwatches



Production Management

(c) 1997-2004
Snake Oil Productions, professional variety entertainment and other modern conveniences.

Lauren Muney, proprietress, designer, performer, producer, makeup artist, stitcher, props-fabricator, illustrator

Updated 2009 .

SILHOUETTES : unique profile portraits in 2 minutes, for any event

Silhouette portraiture was the popular way to recreate an image of oneself or loved one, before the invention and common use of photography in the mid 1800's. During the years of 1500 and 1860, professional and amateur artists would either paint or cut profiles - using paints or scissors, or even "new technology" machines in the late 1700's.

Although the original name of this portrait style was"profile", "shade", "shadow portrait" or simply "shadow", the word "silhouette" is taken from the name of French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette in the mid 1700's, who made no friends with the rich people he taxed. The phrase, "a la silhouette" was applied to things which were cheap, as these cheaply-made portraits cost far less than the traditional extravagent painted portraits and sculptures. Profiles could be painted on glass, plaster, or paper, or cut out of paper or even cloth. Profiles have a long romantic history including as a hobby by Catherine de Medici (1500's), as an aid to judging personality by the physiognomist Johann Lavater (late 1700's), as love-tokens by countless soldiers in wartime, and posted in homes to remember family members for hundreds of years. (Shown left: an actual silhouette from a guest, who sat for under 2 minutes - Claude Moore Colonial Farm Autumn festival, 2010).

Silhouette portraits are far more interesting than caricatures at special events. Not only are silhouettes faster than caricatures, they are far more rare, since there are only a handful of silhouette artists in the entire country. Lauren creates the silhouettes "freehand", which is the highly difficult art of using scissors without drawing, tracing or throwing shadows. This extremely unusual skill entertains the surrenounding guests as well as thrilling the portrait subject.

Additionally, Lauren is unusual because she adds appropriate costuming plus 30 years of entertainment experience even as an artisan. Combining artistic sentiment from her design experience, entertainment experiences from her years as a professional entertainer, and historic appropriate for history-related festivities, "Silhouettes By Hand" is the perfect interactive offering for your event.

Lauren began her interest in cutting silhouettes after studying the entertainments of various historical time periods. Lauren spent years seeking books and supplies for this antique art. Now she offers for all situations, events, and time periods.

There are three ways to learn more and keep connected:

  1. Visit the info blog "Silhouettes By Hand" for the most up-to-date information, events, ideas, images, locations, and festivities.
  2. VIDEO is available on YouTube : 2008
  3. Silhouettes by Hand is now on Facebook! "Like" the page to have information, historical tidbits, and upcoming events delivered directly to your Facebook news stream, without effort from you. See pictures from events, many costume styles, and even examples of silhouettes cut from visitors at events.

Scroll below for more photos and explanation - and please do visit the silhouettes blog or Facebook page for more images, stories, and ideas.

Available for fairs, festivals, public and private events. Lauren's offerings feature period costume where needed, festive attire and enthusiastic attitude at all times.

Interested in arranging Lauren for your event? Lauren will create a special proposal for your event. Write her at the Silhouettes email to request an information sheet and to create a custom proposal.

(LEFT: a historical archive of a famous silhouette artist William Bache, portraits dating 1803-1812.)

Lauren Muney's silhouette cutting can be featured in any event between 1500 and 1860, PLUS any modern-day event:

  • COLONIAL [late 1600's-1800 American]
  • GEORGIAN [mid 1700's England, George III whom the American rebelled against]
  • REGENCY [early 1800's England - "of the reign of the King Regent, George IV, after his father, King George III, went insane"]
  • EARLY VICTORIAN [mid 1800's England - "of the reign of Queen Victoria"]
  • ANTEBELLUM [pre-civil war America, 1820-1861]
  • WESTWARD EXPANSION [1830- 1860 American]
  • OLD WEST [1860-1900]
  • STEAMPUNK [1850-1910, Jules-Verne Victorian techno-fantasy]
  • MODERN BLACK TIE [modern day: 21st century!]

Please visit the Silhouettes By Hand Blog and Facebook page for sample photos of clothing and events.

This interactive "performance" is also approriate for MODERN-DAY events:

  • Mardi Gras or Carnivale
  • Black-tie or other festive occasion
  • Holiday parties, including Christmas, New Year, Valentine's, Fourth of July, etc
  • Fairs and festivals
  • "Old-tyme"/ Old-time/ Traditional/ Heritage/ historical fairs, festivals, and carnivals
  • city celebration events
  • Arts Festivals
  • retail establishments
  • corporate events
  • trade show "crowd-stopper" booth draw
  • social events: weddings, parties, celebrations

How does silhouette-cutting work?

Very quickly. The subject only has to hold still and think pleasant thoughts for about 2 minutes (or less), while Lauren cuts a representation of the subject's profile portrait, freehand, with a pair of very sharp scissors. These miniature portraits are mounted on cards or cardstock for taking home, framing, or for gifting.

All that is needed are two chairs (sometimes Lauren brings her own), a table surface, and interested guests. Guests are fascinated how portraits can be cut without drawing or tracing, only with a keen eye and steady scissors. Lauren is also a professional coach, so she finds ways to weave an interesting conversation into every encounter. Historic events and sites benefit by Lauren offering historic interpretation during the portrait session.

Guests quickly find ways they can use their portraits: memories of their special event, given to loved ones, a memory of the family, to hang on the walls, and more. These traditional portraits are classic for decor or remembering family and special friends.

Creative event producers can purchase specialty cards with event reminders (or logos) printed on the cards, for the guest to remember the event.

While Lauren's specialty includes historical time periods, she has spent almost 30 years in corporate events, too: she presents whatever clothing and image that the client requests.


Lauren is shown here at the Mount Clare Museum House in Baltimore City, Maryland, in her Colonial clothing, of approximately the year 1780.

Notice anything different?
The sign does not say "Silhouettes", it says, "Shadow Portraits": in the Colonial years, the word "silhouettes" had not entered the language, since the colloquial phrase was only coined in 1780. In 1801 the would silhouette was used to decribe these profile portraits for the first time.

If you are looking for a entertainer/artisan who dresses for the occasion, knows her history, can speak with authority and knowledge, but also can make the guest feel welcome, you have chosen the right person for your event.

Yet another incarnation of silhouette portraits - at other events.

Here Lauren cuts the profile portrait of Baltimore artisan Kerry Stagmer of Baltimore Knife and Sword, during Ellicott City's (Maryland's) Midnight Madness holiday event.

At events like this, most often near holidays, Lauren sometimes offers a good price on frames so a portrait can be cut and instantly framed for gift-giving.

Too purple? It's just what the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing Arts created for its special event after 'Harold and the Purple Crayon" production. Lauren was hired to give silhouette portraits to the children and parents.

Here Lauren wears a handpainted tuxedo tailcoat, perfect to impress the young guests and add to the festive mood.

A very happy young girl next to Lauren's sign at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

This young man squirmed around while getting his portrait cut... but it all turned out well in the end. A perfect (or near perfect!) likeness.

Note: Lauren's silhouettes aren't 'just for children' - adults love the silhouettes too! The photos here just happen to feature more children - well, because children are just cute.

See, adults can be cute too! This 'young man' certainly is! He was a fellow artisan at Lauren's silhouette appearance at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.

This silhouette portrait was purposefully mounted on a card big enough to frame.

Note the proportions of the silhouette match the subject - and remember, there was no drawing done before the cutting! Lauren "drew with the scissors" to reproduce the profile likeness, charming the subject, her family, and the passersby.
Lauren in 1860's outfit at the Dickens Festival in Skaneateles, NY, before cutting silhouettes indoors.

Please visit the Silhouettes By Hand blog for more photos and stories.
if you want immediate information, contact Lauren