DIYdiy projects

diy project: framed silhouettes from thomas paul

by Kate Pruitt

If you see more than a few Thomas Paul designs pop up on my gift guides this (and every) year, don’t be surprised. I have been coveting various Thomas Paul pillows for years now, and every time he comes out with a new collection I fall in love all over again. I’m particularly obsessed with the new pillow additions to his Luddite collection, which pair birds with antique objects in the most charmingly bizarre and elegant way. When I learned that Thomas Paul fabrics are available for purchase by the yard? Happy tears. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan:)

These framed silhouettes made from wallpaper samples are a great way to add a little of Paul’s eclectic style to your home decor for almost no cost, especially since he has shared three of his silhouette templates with us for this project! Nestled among a curated collection of  objects or hung on a wall within a mixed composition of framed pieces, these silhouettes are easy to make, ridiculously cheap, and perfect for customization. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Thomas! —Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • A piece of wallpaper- the size will depend on the size of your silhouette. (note: a good place to look is on ebay, hint: search for wallpaper samples. You can also check for remnants of discontinued patterns. I bought mine at a Brunschwig and Fils samples sale-if there is only one roll left of something, you should be able to get even a high end paper for very little since it is tough to sell one roll)
  • Roll of brown kraft paper (or another paper you would like to paste your silhouette to)
  • Scissors (note: you may also need an exacto knife to cut out any centers if your design is more complex)
  • Rubber cement
  • Scotch tape
  • Copy machine or scanner/printer (to make a black and white version of your source image)
  • Frame (note: the great thing about this project is that you can buy your frame first-so you can pick up any size you happen to find at the flea market and then adjust your final art to fit the frame you have already found. I found my frame at the Salvation Army for $ 1.99!)
  • Images for silhouettes:
  1. Birds
  2. Lady Profile
  3. Boy Profile

(note: If you want to use traditional silhouettes, a good source is to get a clip art book of silhouettes; Dover has several versions that you can purchase on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.  If you want something more unusual, you can also find vintage prints at the flea market of different animals; I used one that had a few different birds in one print.)


1.  Take your source image and scan it into your computer and adjust the size to how big you would like it to be, and then print it out in black and white.

2.  Find a section of the design in your wallpaper that you would like to highlight.  Place scotch tape on the back of your black and white copy and then tape this to the back of your wallpaper over the section of the printed design that you want to be in your silhouette.

3. Cut around your black and white copy. Once you have cut it out (if there are any centers, you will need to cut those out with your exacto knife on a flat surface) carefully remove your black and white copy from the back of your wallpaper.

4.  If you already have a frame that you want to use, trim the paper that you are going to glue your silhouette to to fit the frame.  If not, then you can just wait to trim until you find a frame.

5. Take your wallpaper silhouette and apply the rubber cement glue to the back of it.  Rubber cement works best because you don’t have to be too careful about putting too much on as you can easily rub off any drips once it dries. Once you have applied the glue evenly to the back of your wallpaper, paste it onto your paper.

6. Once the glue dries, rub off any dried glue with your finger or a rubber cement eraser.  Now you are ready to frame your piece!

Note: Another option for this project, if you don’t have a frame would be to buy ready made, pre stretched canvases at an art supply store and glue your wallpaper piece to that.  Since it is wallpaper, if you want something a bit more permanent, you can also actually wallpaper your piece to the wall-this would work well for a large piece.

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  • Great idea!

    I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. I inherited several rolls of vintage wallpaper from a friend and, after cutting it down to size and posting some of it on Etsy, there are a few pieces I want to keep, too.

    I’ll have to link to this post on my item listings!

    (If you’re interested, check out my paper here: bodicegoddess.etsy.com)

  • I’ve been trying to finish some silhouettes for xmas and like this idea of using patterned paper. (Also love your Wedgwood After Willow plates!)

  • I have always liked Thomas Paul. This project is lovely. I even have all the materials. I will go and get started right now. Thank you to Thomas for sharing the silhouettes.

  • Those are great! I’ve never seen silhouettes like that before! Silhouettes have generally not been something I’ve thought of using in my decor because they seemed too formal, but with a fun print they would look great!

  • do yallthink this would work with vintage fabrics? cut with an exacto knife and framed i don’t *think* they would frey…opinions?

  • Megaroo, I was thinking of cutting the silhouette (say, the bird) out of stiff paper with an exacto knife, then puttinga square of fabric behind the paper with the cut-out (so you’d actually use paper with negative space around the bird, rather than the bird itself). Same look, but you cut the paper instead of the fabric, so you wouldn’t have to worry about fraying. Does that make sense?

  • I love this idea! I just had some silhouettes made of my kids (you can see them on my blog at bdgstyle.blogspot.com) I wish I would have seen this post first! I love the idea of using wallpaper and will give this a try for some fun, bright and inexpensive wall art! LOVE!

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