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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Hobbies > Miscellaneous Projects/Activities

The Art of Paper Quilling
by Jill Black

The art of paper quilling or paper filigree is a fascinating paper craft best defined as the rolling, scrolling, shaping, or fringing of narrow strips of paper. The rolled shapes are glued to hold their size and then pinched to result in specific shapes and grouped together to make miniature designs.

Originating in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a religious decoration and a popular pastime in Victorian times quilling is once again enjoying a comeback for the enhancement of greeting cards, place cards, gift tags, wedding invitations, birth announcements, scrap book pages, picture frames, ornaments or as three-dimensional stand alone decorative pictures often featuring intricate patterns or floral arrangements.

Unique and original jewellery - earrings, brooches and necklaces - can be made using quilled animals, flowers, butterflies, fish, stars, moons etc. These can be sprayed with gold (or silver) paint to look like fine-gold filigree before gluing to a setting.

What do you Need

Paper
Use thin white or colored paper. Avoid using rice or handmade paper for quilling due to the extreme thickness making it a challenge to spiral. The paper is typically cut into strips of varying widths of 3 mm, 6 mm and up to 10 mm. The standard dimension for a spiral is 3 mm (1/6") and for fringed flowers it is 7 mm to 10 mm (3/8").

Glue
Craft PVA glue (readily available from most craft shops worldwide) is the most commonly used glue or any white glue that dries clear can be used. Always use glue sparingly. Tip: If the bottle is one where you have to snip the top off, only snip the very end so the glue comes out in small drops. A small glass with a wet sponge placed in the bottom keeps the glue in the bottle free flowing and stops the tip drying out.

Quilling tools
There are generally two types of tools used, they are the Slotted tool and the Needle tool. It is not necessary however to use these tools. Many quillers use their fingers (known as finger rolling) in addition to hat pins, straight pins, toothpicks, cocktail sticks, knitting needles, narrow dowel, or any thin, stick-like object that can be used to wind paper around.

Tweezers
Fine tipped for picking up and placing quilled shapes into position as you arrange your design.

Scissors
Scissors are used for cutting shapes. Instead of purchasing expensive fringed paper (for flowers etc) you can use scissors to cut the paper strip.

Long metal ruler
A ruler is useful for measuring paper strips and keeping work straight and shapes consistent sizes

Other useful items to have are a sharp craft knife, cutting board, pins for holding design in place, quilling board for placing pattern on and pinning into place, wax paper or a clear sheet protector to protect your work surface and a damp cloth or sponge for sticky fingers.

Getting Started in Paper Quilling

The basic quilling shapes are made by taking strips of paper and rolling them into tight or loose coils. These coils are then pinched into various shapes and grouped together to make any design or pattern that you want. Here are a few basic shapes from which a variety of projects can be made to get you started.

Using a craft knife and cutting board cut the paper into thin strips about 3mm wide. These need to be accurately cut, so that the surface of the quilling is level when the design is complete.

Coils
Coils can be closed (tight) or open (loose). To make regular designs you will need to keep the length of the strips constant so that all pieces in one motif remain the same size and shape.

Take your quilling tool and start at the very tip of the slot. Holding your paper in one hand and your tool in the other, in front of you, start turning the tool tip. The paper begins turning as the tool grabs the paper. Tightly wind the paper onto the tool. When finished glue the end and carefully pull the paper off the tool for a closed coil (useful for filling in areas and making borders) or remove the paper and glue after removing for an open coil.

Gluing after removing allows to paper to unroll slightly and the layers to loosen and open out. Put a drop of glue at the end of the strip at this stage and hold into place. You now have an open coil ready for pinching and shaping.

Here are a few basic shapes that can be used to make a multitude of designs:

Teardrop
Pinch an open coil at one side after gluing.

Petal
Make a teardrop but curl the pinched end.

Eye
Pinch the coil at both sides simultaneously.

Leaf
Pinch both sides as for the eye and curl the pinched ends in opposite directions.

Half-Moon
Press the coil gently around the tool handle and pinch the ends.

Triangle
Fold to make the half moon but pinch the top as well.

Rectangle or square
Pinch two opposite corners then pinch two more to form either a square or a rectangle.

When you have mastered the basic shapes make a few of each and start to lay them out to form patterns and make your designs.

There are many good books available for quillers to learn different techniques and creative ways of quilling. Joining (or starting) a group in your area is a wonderful way to share hints and tips with fellow quillers.

About the Author:
Jill is the owner of Netwrite-Publish Home and Garden. For more home and garden ideas log onto http://www.netwrite-publish.com.

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