«Quilling with Confidence (more than just a beginner’s guide) Charlotte Canup theartofquilling.com First, the legal stuff: ...»
(more than just a beginner’s guide)
First, the legal stuff:
Copyright © 2009 Charlotte Canup, theartofquilling.com
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Now, on to the quilling!
What is Quilling?
A Brief History of Quilling
Quilling: Art or Craft?
5 Tips Every Quiller Should Know
Basic Tools and Supplies
5 Basic Quilling Coils
5 Basic Quilling Scrolls
Assembling Your Quillwork
Let’s Start Quilling
Elements of a Quilling Project
About the Patterns
All Occasion Card
Fan Treasure Box
Solutions to Common Problems
Clicking on any of the titles above will take you to that section. Throughout this beginner’s guide, any text you see in blue and underlined like this is a clickable link that will take you to the relevant web page if you are connected to the internet.
Introduction Welcome to The Art of Quilling. I fell in love with quilling many years ago when I bought my first craft book on this intricate paper art in a local craft store. I was immediately fascinated by the creative possibilities – from delicate, lacy designs reminiscent of romantic times gone by to amazing 3-D sculptures – I knew that this craft was the one for me. I lost no time in making quilled items for gifts. They were so well received that I began participating in local craft fairs and giving lessons. I am so thrilled that technology has progressed to the point where I can share my passion with you. Because, after all this time, I still love the art of quilling.
What is Quilling?
Quilling …. paper filigree … quillwork -- by any name, this lacy paper art has captivated creative imaginations for centuries. Quillwork is created from strips of paper that are rolled, scrolled, crimped, fringed, spiraled, and hand pressed into shapes that are glued to each other to form intricate designs. While there are few basic shapes, variations allow for endless possibilities. If you can imagine it … you can quill it!
A Brief History of Quilling Surprisingly, for an art form so old, not much definitive information is available as to its origins. Most of the resources l find trace the beginning of this art to the European monasteries of the 15th century, while some sources say it started as early as the 13th or 14th century. It is believed to have first been practiced by French and Italian Nuns and/or Monks using the quill of a feather as a tool to roll the strips of paper, thus giving the technique its name. Filigree work was used to decorate religious objects and to simulate more costly handwork such as carved ivory or wrought iron. Eventually this decorative artwork spread into the homes of the wealthy in France and England during the 1700s. By the late 1700s, quilling
had become the pastime of refined young ladies of leisure and patterns resembling embroidery motifs were even published in the women’s magazines of the day. Ultimately, the art of quilling crossed the sea and arrived in the colonies where it was used to decorate practical items such as candle sconces. During the 1800s, quilling became all but forgotten. Only after the turn of the century did this delicate art start to make a comeback, enjoying a rise in popularity in the 1970s that brought several instruction books (which are now considered vintage), pre-cut papers, and specialty quilling tools to local craft stores. Unfortunately, due to the fragileness of the materials, few examples of early quillwork have survived. These date mostly to the 1700s and are now housed in museums and art collections.
Quilling: Art or Craft?
There is an on-going debate within the quilling community as to whether the technique of quilling is an art or a craft. Those who quill, or who understand the artistry and time that goes into creating a wonderful piece of quillwork, overwhelming feel that quilling is an art. It seems that those not familiar with quilling, however, are not as sure, and perceive quillwork as having less intrinsic value because it is, after all, just made from paper. As a member of the North American Quilling Guild, I promote quilling as an art form and even carry this message through to the name of my blog, The Art of Quilling.
I believe that quilling is much like painting. Both use simple, inexpensive materials and are fairly easy to learn. It takes time, talent, and practice, however, for an artist to produce a painting worthy of a gallery show. The same is true for quilling. The quality of the finished quillwork depends on the skill, creativity, and design created by the quiller.
5 Tips Every Quiller Should Know I am a self-taught quiller and years ago worked mostly in my own creative bubble (social networking as we now know it on the internet did not exist). I often wished that I had known a seasoned quiller who could have shared her experiences with me. It is in this spirit that I offer you these five quilling tips.
1. Use the quilling tool that works for you.
There are many commercial tools available for curling paper, both slotted and straight needle types. A round toothpick or corsage pin can also be used. As for me, I prefer the most basic tool of all — my fingers. Keep in mind that quilling tools are just that, tools to help you create the desired coil or spiral. By all means, follow the instructions that come with the tool or those you find on the internet, but if the directions just don’t seem to work for you, don’t hesitate to try using the tool in a slightly different way. The instructions that came with my first slotted tool told me to curl the paper toward me. I tried many times, but my fingers struggled with that motion.
However, when I rolled the paper away from me it felt right and that is how I use that tool today.
If after several tries you find that you still have trouble using a tool, it is perfectly OK to put it away and try a different one for curling your paper. All tools are not for all quillers. You will soon find the one that is right for you.
difficult to work with since it cracks and splits. If you are having trouble, before you give up out of frustration, try a strip of paper from a different company. You may find that the problem with your coils is with the paper and not you.
3. Quilling paper has a “right” and a “wrong” side.
If you examine a strip of quilling paper, you will notice that one side has smooth edges that curve down ever so slightly.
The other side has edges that slightly curve up. This is because the paper cutting blade pushes down on the paper as it cuts. The smooth side is considered the right side of the paper and you will want to keep it to the outside of your coils and scrolls. This difference is especially noticeable when joining several strips together end-to-end to form a large tight coil for use as a base, etc. This example is made from four 6” strips with alternating right and wrong sides. Notice the striations – they look like the rings found in a tree.
4. Neatness counts — control the glue.
Nothing will ruin the look of a piece of finished quilling more than seeing bits of glue all over it or gobs of glue under it where it is attached to its backing. It only takes the tiniest drop to seal the end of a coil to itself or to attach one coil or scroll to another as you build your design. A bit more adhesive may be needed to attach the paper quilling to the box or frame back, but not much. Clean hands are an absolute must when working If you can see the bits of glue so with paper filigree and you’ll want to wash your hands can others.
before starting any quilling project. The best quilling tip I’ve found to help keep glue off the fingers is to have a wet paper towel handy to wipe your fingers on as you quill. I also keep a dry hand towel in my lap to dry my fingers on so they are not too wet for handling the paper. In addition, keep hand lotions to a minimum so the oils don’t discolor the paper.
5. Your rolls and scrolls will be unique to you.
They will not look exactly like mine (or anyone else’s). Everyone uses different tension when they curl the paper strips resulting in variations in the coils and scrolls. Not only that, but your own quills will vary from each other depending on your mood and how you feel at the time. To see for yourself, compare coils that you made when you were tired or frazzled with those made when you were relaxed and rested. You’ll notice a big difference. A great quilling tip is to prepare all of your strips for a project at one time. This allows you to roll your strips one right after the other, producing quills with more consistent tension.
Basic Tools and Supplies Quilling Tool You will need to use something to curl your paper strips. A corsage pin, round toothpick, slotted tool, or needle quilling tool can all be used. With the pin, toothpick, and needle tool, the paper strip is curled by rolling it around the center shaft. A slotted quilling tool grabs the end of the quilling paper and you wind the paper into a coil by turning the handle. There are pros and cons for each type. The needle tools make a smaller center, but starting and rolling the coil can be a bit tricky. The slotted quilling tool leaves a tell-tale bend in the paper at the center of the coil, but is by far the easiest tool for beginners to use. I recommend that you purchase a slotted tool with a long cushioned handle. Once you get the hang of quilling, you can branch out and try the needle tool or finger rolling. If you simply refuse to spend another dime on supplies, then try the toothpick. It is quilling tools easier for paper to grab onto the wooden surface than the smooth shaft of the needle tool or pin Quilling Paper Strips The most common width of paper strip used in quilling is 1/8″, however, other widths are available. Narrower strips (1/16″) are used for fine, detailed quilling, while wider strips (1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/8″) are used primarily for fringed flowers and 3D sculpting. Not only does modern quilling paper come in a rainbow of colors, you’ll find an amazing variety of specialty papers (speckled, metallic, pearl, gradient, etc.) as well.
You’ll want to avoid the strips that are sold in a tube. They are very difficult to work with and I don’t want you to become easily discouraged.
Glue Any good quality white tacky craft glue that dries clear will work fine. Over time you will notice some slight differences and no doubt choose a favorite, but for now, use what you have on hand.
Work Board You can purchase one of the many nice ones available on the market today, or make your own from a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard. A good size is 6″x8″, but any size will do as long as it is larger than your quilling pattern. Cover the front of the work board with a piece of wax paper or clear plastic cut to size and held in place with a few straight pins.
Straight Pins Besides holding the work board covering in place, pins are used to hold your coils and scrolls on the board as you work on your quilling pattern. This allows you to “dry fit” the pieces and make any adjustments before gluing.
Ruler You will usually want to measure the length of your paper strips so you can form shapes that are uniform in size. Your quilling pattern instructions will tell you the length of the strip needed to form each coil or scroll.
Tweezers Some of the individual shapes you create will be pretty small. You will find tweezers quite helpful in achieving perfect placement of your coils and scrolls into your quilling design.
Scissors Usually you tear your paper strips to length; however, there are times when a cut end looks neater.
Toothpicks Besides being an all around handy tool to have in your crafting arsenal of supplies, toothpicks are excellent for apply glue to your quilled shapes.
A quality slotted tool manufactured by Lake City Craft Co. is available from Scrapbook Super Center where you will also find their brand of quilling paper. Joann carries a larger variety, stocking both the Lake City Crafts line as well as tools and papers from Quilled Creations (my personal favorite for the papers). Just enter “quilling” into the search menu.
Quilling Techniques The first step is to tear a strip of paper to the desired length. Tearing the paper creates a frayed end that is less noticeable when glued than a cut end. For practice, a 6″ strip is a good size.
Next, you’ll want to condition the paper to loosen the fibers making it easier to create a smooth roll. This is done by running the paper strip over your quilling tool or thumbnail. Be sure to roll the paper in the same direction it is bending.