Make a Silhouette Portrait Lamp Shade Activity

3.6 based on 24 ratings
Updated on Sep 21, 2012

Looking for a fun and different way to help your teen personalize her room? Create a lamp shade decorated with her silhouette portrait for a one of a kind work of art.

Popular in the 18th century, silhouette portraits are traditionally black against a light background, but here you'll create a silhouette by punching holes in a piece of paper in the shape of your child's profile. When light shines through, her portrait will illuminate!

What You Need:

  • Digital camera
  • Heavy paper or lightweight cardboard
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Push pin or small nail
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Plain lamp shade

What You Do:

  1. Take a photo of your child's face in profile. Print it out. Explain that before photos were common people used to make profiles of each other, drawing on black paper and cutting it out. Electric lighting meant that people could use paper to decorate lamp shades.
  2. Have her cut out the photo. Remind her to cut around eye lashes, curls of hair, etc. This will make it look more like her.
  3. Help her draw a circle or trace a bowl that is slightly bigger than her photo onto the heavy paper or lightweight cardboard and cut it out. She'll create her silhouette portrait on this circle.
  4. Tape the photo onto the circle.
  5. Place the circle on top of the corrugated cardboard so the nail or push pin won't damage the table. Have her punch holes, evenly spaced, around her profile in the photo. The more holes she punches, the more light will shine through and the clearer the picture.
  6. Hold the image up to a light. If light doesn't shine through the holes, enlarge them slightly.
  7. Glue the finished silhouette to the inside of the lamp shade. Place the shade on a lamp, turn on the lamp, and watch her profile light up!

For a fancier shade, make the silhouette from colored paper and decorate the lamp shade with glitter, rhinestones, lace and/or ribbon.

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