I’m a sentimental gal. I cry during even the hokiest of TV and movie moments. If there’s someone kissing/dying/reuniting/being born on TV, I’m probably crying. If there are violins in the background, I’m probably sobbing. That’s just how it works.
The first time I cried over a movie, I was watching Beethoven (the slobbery St. Bernard, not the composer). I’ve been an emotional wreck during many a film and TV show ever since.
Sometimes I’ll just let the tears roll silently down my face, hoping to not draw attention to the fact that I’m crying while watching Bones, of all things. Yep, I cry during a crime drama – regularly. Ain’t no shame. Except, there is actually a bit of shame (see: silent tears).
Anyway, with all of my crying over fictional characters, you can imagine how sentimental I get about people and things I actually know and care about.
Like my puppy. God, I love him. I love him so much I almost want a bumper magnet that says “honk if you love Weimaraners!” and a sign on my garage that says “Weimaraner X-ing”. Except I don’t.
What I really want is to show pride and love for my puppy without completely embarrassing myself.
What I want is something a little more classic…like a silhouette of his distinctive profile.
The awesome thing about a silhouette is if you create it digitally, you can make it once and re-purpose it over and over again.
Now that I’ve captured his silhouette, that’s exactly what I plan to do. But the first order of business is to make a silhouette Christmas ornament.
Christmas is inching ever closer and I want to make something to commemorate our first Christmas with Beecher. Yes, I’m insane.
Even better? You don’t have to be a crazy dog lady like me to make use of this tutorial. Substitute super cute puppy for super cute baby/child/husband/cat/self and you’ve got one tutorial that you can use regardless of your subject.
Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Photoshop or other digital imaging software (keep reading below for a low-tech alternative)
- Printer & paper
- A thin wooden circle or oval (I found these in the wood crafts aisle at Michaels)
- Small paint brush
- Acrylic paint in a colour of your choice for the ornament’s background (I went with Martha Stewart’s satin-finish paint in Summer Linen)
- Mod podge
- A drill
- Ribbon or embroidery thread in a colour of your choice
Now, here’s what I did. First I brought Beecher over to a bright window and told him to sit (Matt is standing in front of him, just outside of the frame, enticing him to look straight ahead and not at me).
I opened up the photo in Photoshop and used the extraction tool (under Filter > Extract) to trace around Beecher’s head. There’s more than one way to get this done; you can also desaturate the image and play with the brightness and contrast (a method used by the Petersiks). You can get similar results by printing the photo, cutting out the silhouette, tracing the silhouette onto black paper or cardstock, and then cutting the traced silhouette out of the construction paper.
Add any extra details you deem necessary. I added the outline of Beecher’s floppy ears because they’re so distinctive.
I printed out the silhouette in the size I needed, grabbed my scissors, and cut out the silhouette, using my scissors to smooth out any roughness or imperfections in the silhouette’s outline.
Then it was time to prep the ornament’s wooden base. (See those extras? I’m hoping to continue the silhouette theme later on by making ornaments with silhouettes of snowflakes.)
I took my wooden oval and painted it with several coats of acrylic paint until it reached a shade of off-white (or summer linen, as Martha so charmingly calls it) I was happy with.
I removed the silhouette from the wood (just for the moment), opened my bottle of Mod Podge, dipped just the tip of my paintbrush in it, and brushed a thin layer of it over the top of the wood. Then I put a thin coat of Mod Podge on the back of the silhouette.
Working quickly, I put Beecher’s silhouette on the Mod-Podged-wood, adjusting it to make sure it was placed right where I wanted it. Then I used my thumbs to smooth it for a good minute or two to smooth out any air trapped beneath the silhouette and prevent air bubbles from forming.
I let the silhouette and ornament dry for about half an hour, then painted another very thin coat of Mod Podge over top of the silhouette and wood. I let this coat dry for about an hour. I repeated this over and over and over until the silhouette was nicely sealed onto the ornament (it took me about 8 coats). When it’s done, the top of the ornament won’t feel like wood anymore – it’ll be nice and smooth. This is a tedious process, but it’s totally worth it because the thin coats and the lengthy drying times between coats keep the Mod Podge from becoming sticky.
I drilled a small hole near the top of the ornament, threaded embroidery floss through it, and tied it off.
Finito! All that was left to do was admire the sweetness of my new keepsake ornament. Now, if only we had a Christmas tree to hang it on…
Have you joined in the silhouette craze? Are you a crazy dog person like me? Does anyone else cry like a baby while watching Bones? Please tell me I’m not alone!