What is quilling? Glad you asked! As an ordinary observer you might come to the conclusion that it’s a type of embroidery – I did too, once; as the word almost looked like “quilt-ing” And it doesn’t involve hedgehogs or porcupines either. Sorry, had to have a little fun there! Nope, not even close 😁 Although the story behind the origins of quilling does kind of involve , well, birds (Keep reading…)
Quilling is a paper artform! And an amazing one at that, once you see what kind of possibilities are out there.
So if you want to step up your paper craft game a little, and learn a new time-honored tradition, I think you will enjoy what is in store for you right here!
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Paper quilling is an inexpensive hobby too – besides a special type of needle you only need a few other instruments for success – and don’t forget to check out my FREE checklist, at the middle and bottom of this post for more ideas!
So What Is Quilling In a Nutshell?
Paper quilling is a paper craft artform that involves making coiled designs using thin strips of paper. It can be simple or intricate, depending on the taste or skill of the crafter in question.
Quilling has a good deal of antiquity behind it, dating back to the Renaissance era in Europe in which nuns and monks fashioned rolled paper decor from pages of the Bible. It was an inexpensive alternative to gold filigree and picked up some popularity with well-heeled women (read: affluent) during the 18th and 19th centuries as a prized technique.
The name for the craft itself came from the tool of choice at the time – the feathers of geese that people used back in olden times to make quill pens for writing. Yep, strips of paper wrapped around goose quills to create unique paper art, got known as “quilling”!
Fast forward to our time, the technique remains the same – but the goose quill has been replaced by a more modern tool resembling an embroidery needle (more on that in a little bit.)
Oh and don’t forget to check out my Quilling on the Cheap Checklist for getting started, which you can access by filling out the form below!
Paper Quilling 101
The main tool, known as a quilling needle, is used to wind the paper strips around into a coil. Sometimes you can improvise and use a ordinary object as a tool. Usually something narrow will work. A knitting needle or a pencil for example, can work in a pinch, although may produce looser coils.
Once the strip has been wound all the way to the end, now you simply remove it from the needle – use your first finger and thumb; don’t grab the coil by the base as it can flare out in a funnel shape.
Use a dab of glue to finish off the seam. Ta da – you’ve created a quilled paper coil!
It can be added to a backdrop as is, or you can manipulate it into a unique shape like a heart, triangle, teardrop, etc., this time using the larger handle of the tool, and your fingers. Rolling the paper strips is just the beginning….The coils that are created can be made into various shapes, just by a little pinching.
Also, some coiled shapes can be left open-ended and not glued together. You can use these to accentuate the coils for a design. We can call those “scrolls” instead of “coils.”
Here is a chart I made to showcase most of the basic quilling shapes. I hope you can read my writing OK; I’ve always been a staunch cursive writer. I’ve been practicing with some strips cut out from magazines (which you can do, too, if you’re low on paper – magazine paper is just the right weight for this) and if you can get the hang of these main shapes, you’ll be well on your way!
What About Quilling Tools?
The tools used in paper quilling are rather simple and straightforward. Some of the major tools used in the process are a slotted quilling tool, needle, glue, tweezers and pins. With a combination of these simple tools, long strips of paper are wound tightly and released, and hereby forming complicated and complex shapes.
To get more precision and accuracy, you want to use a good combination of tools, and experiment with them as much as you can,
Don’t forget to check out my free quilling guide, see bottom of this post to learn how.
Is Quilling A Real Artform?
You betcha! Once you master the basics of quilling, the possibilities will be endless! You can use your quilled paper designs to enhance another craft in the making, or you can make stand-alone items such as wall hangings, jewelry pieces like earrings, Christmas tree ornaments, greeting card adornments, or paper sculptures.
Here are some real life examples…A tree ornament. Notice the use of round, teardrop and oval shaped coils all were used to make this lovely decoration?
And here is a tissue box I found. Isn’t this adorable? Quilled flowers used to adorn the top of it. Too cute!
With hard work and perseverance, you can come up with some amazingly intricate designs. Check out this masterpiece below to get an idea of what amazing work can be accomplished!
What is Quilling? Only the Most Awesome Paper Craft Ever!
So do you think you would enjoy getting into paper quilling? Great! It is such a cool artform that can stand on its own, or be used to accentuate other paper craft projects you have going on, such as scrapbook pages or handmade cards.
Creative Commons Photo Attribution: K4Craft Creations