Inspiration
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Dec 5, 2018

The Art Of Quilling: Coils, Curls, Twirls

When it comes to the easiest types of paper craft to get into, quilling surely sits near the top of the list. With just strips of paper, glue or tape, and a handful of tools—which you don't even necessarily have to buy since you can make do with items you may already have—you can start creating simple paper art and then graduate to more intricate designs as you become more proficient in the craft.

What's quilling all about?

To put it simply, quilling involves cutting paper into strips and then curling, twisting, and manipulating them in several other ways to create eye-catching designs. You can use them to add oomph to your homemade greeting cards, attach them to gifts in place of ribbons, jazz up items such as picture frames and jewellery boxes, or create wall art that showcases paper crafts for home decoration.

How did quilling start?

Some say that the term 'quilling' comes from the idea that craftspeople used the feathers of birds (or quills) for coiling paper strips. There's evidence that the art has been around for centuries; it's believed that it emerged in ancient Egypt. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, quilling was practised by French and Italian monks and nuns to adorn religious items. It was a popular pastime for European ladies of leisure in the 18th century and for a number of people in Colonial America.

Quilling remains a popular form of paper art all over the world. Some of today's most popular quilling artists include Russian-born Yulia Brodskaya and Turkey's Sena Runa, whose works are marvels of intricacy. However, quilling doesn't have to be labor-intensive and difficult from the get-go; in fact, it's a great way for kids to learn paper art.

Getting your hands on the tools of the trade

Let's take a look at the essentials of quilling:

  • Slotted tool: This thin instrument features a slit at the top that makes it a lot easier to form paper curls or coils.
  • Needle tool: Use this to create perfect spirals and to apply glue to hard-to-reach spots of the design.
  • Tweezers: Not only for taming eyebrows, but tweezers can also be used to create uniformly sized, delicate coils and to insert pieces of paper in narrow spaces.
  • Curling coach: Not a necessity per se, but it's a super helpful paper-curling tool for kids and beginners, and for quillers of 3D miniatures.
  • Paper: Pre-cut quilling paper is available in hundreds of colors, sizes, and types. There's an acid-free paper that's perfect for scrapbooking, and graduated and two-tone paper, which make innovative use of color for attractive designs.

If you're just starting out, you don't have to shell out much cash for quilling tools. You can cut ordinary paper computer using a paper cutter, color them, and then coil them around objects like bamboo skewers, round toothpicks, or corsage pins. Take appropriate precautions with children, though. While quilling is a great paper craft for kids, it's still a good idea to supervise them when they're handling sharp objects.

There are two other things, intangible items, you'll need for quilling: patience and imagination. It'll take a bit of practice to overcome the learning curve and see curls and coils turning out the way you want them. You can also make use of patterns to start with, but as you progress and learn to tap your creativity better, you'll find that paper craft ideas for quilling are virtually endless.