Introduction to The Art of Paper Quilling
In my search for unique gifts to handcraft for my family, I found a photograph of a quilled picture so delicate and intricate it seemed like a fine-line drawing.
It set my creative gears awhirl, and for a week I worked late and had fun experimenting with my newfound interest. I never dreamed that my hobby would grow into a business.
Nearly 10 years later, my first quilled floral arrangement (framed as a birthday present for my mother-in-law) is still one of my favorite pieces. But as I became more involved with the craft, the enthused response of family and friends, added to my own interest in quilling, spurred me to make my own designs. I expanded into Christmas ornaments and eventually built up an inventory large enough to enter my work in a local arts and crafts show.
Now, after years of quilling, I can assure you that the opportunities opened up by this unusual and highly flexible medium are endless. It's given me a profitable part-time income (my biggest thrill was earning $900 in a farmers' market Christmas crafts show), and I love teaching quilling workshops to children and adults.
quilling tool, a metal instrument with a tiny slit in one end, will
probably cost between $1 and $1.50 (I'm still using my first one). You'll
also need a package of quilling paper, which runs around
$1.75 and will last for quite some time. I buy wholesale from Quill Art
(11762 Westline Dr., St. Louis, MO 63141; 314/872-3181; catalog $1), because
I like the feel of its paper, though I'm sure other companies offer comparable
To set up your workboard, tape a sheet of white or graph paper (later you may want to substitute a design you've sketched) onto your work surface. Peel a piece of Contact the size of your workboard and tape it to the surface sticky side up. It will hold the paper curls in place until you want to remove your completed piece. Now you're ready to go.
To get a
feel for your quilling tool, cut a piece of paper a few inches
long, and—holding the instrument in your right hand (left for lefties)—insert
one end of the paper into the slit. Now turn the tool clockwise, gently
guiding the paper.
To gain confidence, begin by experimenting with the basic shapes illustrated here. As the photos show, you can combine individual shapes to form an endless variety of flowers, snowflakes, butterflies, birds, and abstract art. When you're satisfied with the design, glue the shapes together. Let dry, then lift the artwork from the Con-tact; it's ready for use.
My larger creations, mostly one-of-a-kind originals, I put into three-dimensional frames that I buy wholesale from Intercraft Industries Corp. (P.O. Box 1227, Statesville, NC 28677; 704/873-2591; free catalog). I sell these pictures for $10 to $35.
I also make
delicate quilled Christmas ornaments to which
I add small beads. My minipictures I frame in wooden curtain rings. They
are pretty additions to the wall or Christmas tree, or I can hang them
as a mobile.
Once you've mastered the basics and made a few pieces, you'll probably want to come up with some curls of your own.
First, make sure you've built up a substantial inventory before you apply for acceptance into an arts or crafts show.
Second, order attractive business cards. I can't stress enough how valuable this investment can be. I've gotten more orders than I can count by having cards available for browsers at all crafts shows. I also enclose one with any purchase.
Finally, since many people have no idea what quilling is, it's wise to type up a little sheet on the history of quilling, in this unique craft and run off copies for those who are interested. (See "The Traditional Art of Quilling" sidebar.) I've framed one and hang it wherever I have my work on display.