As the long winter evenings loom ahead, I thought that it might be fun to share some ideas on amusements to keep people busy. Recently I came across a book on shadow puppets which looked like it could inspire hours of fun!
Hand Shadows : the Complete Art of Shadowgraphy by magician Louis Nikola outlines the principles of shadowgraphy, an art that was popular in the early twentieth century. Most people have an idea of how to make basic shapes such as a bird or a butterfly, but with a little practice people can make some really creative shadows.
The art of shadow puppets died out due to the rise in popularity of entertainments such as the cinema. People were also more readily able to afford nights out, meaning that they didn’t need so many home entertainments. The invention of the electric lightbulb also didn’t help since electric lights don’t cast the same depth of shadow as candles. But never fear, there’s still plenty of fun to be had by those willing to try!
Each shadow in the book is accompanied by step-by-step instructions on how to make it. The book starts off with quite simple animals such as a rabbit or an elephant:
The book then moves on to people in preparation for putting on a shadow pantomime. Some of the characters need props to make them work which could be considered cheating, but it would be impossible to create some of these figures any other way!
Hand Shadows : the Complete Art of Shadowgraphy: 1913.7.1578