Programs & Events
Silhouettes by Deborah O’Connor
Sunday, December 10 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm EST
Silhouettes, a beloved tradition and benefit for the Ridgefield Historical Society, returns for the holiday season on Sun. Dec. 10, 2023 from 10am-2pm. Calling all children, families, and yes even pets! Silhouettes make a unique holiday gift. Make an appointment here and join us at the historic Scott House at 4 Sunset Lane on Dec. 10 to have beautiful hand cut silhouette portraits created for you and your family, including your dogs and cats. Each silhouette, starting at $30 each, is cut in exacting detail in just a few minutes by Rhode Island artist Deborah O’Connor. Ms. O’Connor has been practicing this lost art for over forty years. New this year, silhouettes can also be made from digital profile pictures submitted online in advance.
Reservations and Pricing
There are just 28 appointments are available for this special event. Register here on Eventbrite and pay a $15 nonrefundable deposit which reserves your seat for one appointment which will be applied to the total cost of your silhouette(s), which start at $30 each and up. The Eventbrite credit card fee of $2.85 is a separate additional expense for you and will not be applied to your silhouette purchase. Ms. O’Connor can create silhouettes for 1-2 subjects during each appointment. If you plan to have silhouettes made for more than 2 subjects, please book two consecutive appointments.
You can purchase just the unframed silhouette, or you can have it matted and framed for an additional cost.
One original unframed silhouette: $30
Extra unframed copy of the silhouette: $15
Additional Add-on Options:
Mat (8″x10″) for one subject: $10
Mat (11″x14″) for groupings of 2-3 subjects: $20
Frame (5″x7″) for one subject: $40
Frame (8″x10″) for groupings of 2-3 subjects: $60
Please arrive at the Ridgefield Historical Society 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment to check in, fill out your order form, and process your payment. Late arrivals cannot be accommodated and deposits are nonrefundable for missed appointments. Parking at the Historical Society is limited and traffic is heavy. Please allocate extra travel time to get to this event.
Skip the line and submit your profile photos in digital format in advance on Ms. O’Connor’s website https://thesilhouettelady.com/ and then pick up your completed silhouettes at the Ridgefield Historical Society.
During the checkout process on Ms. O’Connor’s website, when asked for the name of the fundraiser’s sponsoring organization in the “Special Instructions Box”, enter “Ridgefield Historical Society”. Select the option to pay by check. Do not pay by credit card. You will pay for your order when you pick it up at the Ridgefield Historical Society on Sun. Dec. 10 between 10am and 3pm. An appointment on Eventbrite is not needed for advance orders.
Assistance with placing advance orders will also be provided at the Historical Society’s table at the Christmas Market at Lounsbury House during the Holiday House Tour on Sat. Dec. 2.
Silhouette cutting is done entirely freehand in a matter of minutes. Working with multiple layers of paper, it is possible to create several silhouettes of the same subject at once. These extra “copies” are traditionally sold at half the cost of the “original”, and make wonderful gifts. There is a magical quality to this art, beyond the fascination of seeing how quickly an accurate portrait is produced, using only scissors and a trained eye. That special quality is the unique ability of a silhouette to seemingly capture the very “essence” of a person. Once experienced you will become an enthusiastic fan of the art. These loyal fans have sought out the dwindling number of practitioners with enough frequency to keep the art from extinction.
Before the invention of the camera, the silhouette ranked as the most popular form of portraiture. Compared to other means of having a portrait done, silhouettes were inexpensive. Previous to being dubbed “silhouettes” they were called “shades” or “shadows”. The term silhouette derived from a French minister of finance and amateur shade cutter named Etienne de Silhouette. His stringent financial policies caused the slogan “a la Silhouette” to be used in reference to anything that was considered “cheap” in France at that time. The name stuck unfortunately, denigrating what is truly a fine art, into something that sounds almost worthless.
On the bright side, most people are no longer aware of that association. One other quality that is unique to silhouettes, is how they tend to remain displayed on the walls of a home for decades. They slowly and unintentionally evolve into becoming a family’s most treasured heirlooms. Capturing the essence of a person, which is timeless, they do not become outdated, as photographs do and tend to remain untouched and on display for decades. Historians have attributed the survival of so many intact antique silhouettes to this fact. Join us for the opportunity to have heirloom quality silhouettes created for your family.
For More Information
Contact the Ridgefield Historical Society at ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org, info@ridgefieldhistoricalsociety, or 203-438-5821.