Couples agree that Charleston’s pervasive sense of way-back-then makes it a timeless spot to say “I do.” It’s fitting, then, that two Lowcountry artists are bringing a pair of antique art forms—paper cutting and its black-on-white heir, silhouetting—to weddings throughout the Holy City.
Paper cutting as an art involves shaping hand-cut paper into forms, tableaus, and sculptures and dates as far back as the sixth century. Silhouettes (profile portraits or scenes clipped from black paper and mounted on white) gained a following in the mid-1700s, and only faded from popularity with the advent of photography in the mid-19th century.
Locally, the demand for silhouette art was kept alive thanks to a few nationally renowned artists here in the Lowcountry, like Carew Rice, who was dubbed “America’s Greatest Silhouettist” by poet Carl Sandburg.
But back to those Big Days. For weddings, Carew’s grandson Clay Rice carries on the family tradition by clipping custom bride-and-groom portraits and landscape silhouettes of ceremony sites to be printed on stationery suites and reception décor. He also offers on-site portrait cutting, meaning he’ll snip guests’ silhouettes at the reception for them to take home. “Because the silhouettes are black on white, they have a certain formality and elegance about them,” says Clay. “And that’s what people really want for their wedding—it’s a perfect match.”
Local artist Eric Vincent, who has been crafting paper sculptures since the early 1990s, also has a way with scissors. Eric can bring to life just about any subject or scene you’d want as a centerpiece at your reception (and in your home after-the-fact). “Couples are really only limited by their own imaginations,” says Eric, who once fashioned an underwater world complete with mermaids for one marine biology-loving groom. His other nuptial offerings include paper-cut cake toppers and pop-up invitations.
The keepsake factor plays into both art forms. When silhouettes are stored in protective frames and paper sculptures in either acrylic boxes or shadow boxes, the pieces should last for decades on end.
“Sculptures more than 10 years old look as good as new,” says Eric. “They will really last a lifetime.” And when you’re building a life together, isn’t that the best sort of memento to have?
Clay’s silhouettes (and on-site services) start at $1,000.
Call (843) 697-4353 or visit RiceGalleries.com.
Eric’s work ranges from $500 (for cards) to $2,500 and up (for large-size sculptures).