By Ann Martin
Quilling, the coiling and shaping of narrow paper strips to create a design, has been around for years — hundreds, in fact. During the Renaissance, nuns and monks would roll gold-gilded paper remnants trimmed during the bookmaking process, and use them to decorate religious objects as an alternative to costly gold filigree. Quilling later became a pastime of 18th and 19th century young ladies in England, who would decorate tea caddies and pieces of furniture with paper filigree. The practice crossed the Atlantic with colonists, who added quilling to candle sconces and trays as home decorations.
In all of that time the process has remained very much the same, but quilling designs and specialty supplies have definitely caught up to the 21st century. Today some aficionados focus on making incredibly detailed 3-D figures, while others favor wall-sized museum installations. Perhaps quilling is best known, though, as a way of bringing personality to handmade cards.
The short list of necessities includes strips of lightweight paper, glue, and a tool with which to roll the paper — that’s it! Even better, there’s probably no need to shop for supplies before you try quilling, as a bamboo skewer, round toothpick, or even a cake tester from your kitchen drawer can serve as a substitute tool. Cut your own practice strips from a sheet of ordinary computer paper, using a paper cutter.
Many arts and crafts stores sell basic tools and packages of multicolor paper strips. Beautiful papers and other quilling supplies are available from online suppliers. Oh, and lastly, one requirement that’s not available for purchase, but will also be needed, is a fair amount of patience. With a little practice, however, I can almost predict you’ll find quilling to be creatively satisfying and fun.
The projects in this article feature the teardrop coil, but there are many other intriguing shapes to try — marquises, arrowheads, holly leaves, and all sorts of beautiful scrolls, just to name a few.
Read on for the full Quilling 101 and featured Valentine’s Day project tutorials.
About the Author:
Ann Martin of all things paper is a quilling enthusiast who loves introducing the craft to others. She teaches, designs projects for books and magazines, and is especially hooked on making paper filigree jewelry.