Quilling is an art form that has existed for centuries, originating in ancient Egypt. During the Renaissance, French and Italian monks would create beautiful shapes from gold-gilded paper to decorate their religious items and books.
But what is quilling exactly? Is it easy to do? Can I do it? Let me stop you there: yes, you can. Quilling is the creation of a variety of eye-catching shapes created by creatively rolling, shaping and gluing strips of paper. Trust me, it doesn’t sound impressive, but it sure looks impressive! It’s no wonder the art of quilling spread worldwide after the Renaissance, reaching as far as the Americas during Colonial Times.
We’re going to go over the basic steps of quilling in this tutorial, but first thing’s first:
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. -Picasso
If you’ve browsed around theSquirrelz.com you’re sure to have spotted our collection of Quilling Cards. They are stunning examples of quilling done as an art form. Each of them handmade and intricately detailed, like a good piece of quilling should be. This quilling tutorial is a first step towards learning the craft yourself, but be warned! Quilling is a time consuming and precise art. So put on your favorite lounge playlist/Enya album/YouTube video of rain sounds, and start quilling!
Step 1: Tools of the trade
What do you need to start quilling?
— A pair of hands (or a robo-substitute)
— Quilling paper (pre-cut works best and comes in many colors)
— Tweezers (for precision placement and crimping)
— Glue (basic glue will work fine for quilling)
— Quilling tool
The most important item needed for making quilling art is the quilling tool. Depending on your skill level, or overall boldness, you can choose between a slotted tool and a needle tool. The slotted tool creates a small bend in the paper, making it easier to manipulate but debatably less pretty. The needle tool creates perfect circles but requires a bit more patience to master. Choose your weapon! Coil the paper all the way around the tip of the tool and gently pull the coil off again. Shape your circle into the size you want, then apply a tiny drop of glue to the tail of the paper to ‘lock’ your circle size. That’s the basic technique!
Grab a pencil and sketch the general shape of what you want to turn into a masterpiece of quilling. It’s best to sketch on a firm piece of cardboard or paper stock. How about sketching a flower? A tree? A bird? A T-Rex? A common brushtail possum? The sky is the limit with quilling. Oh! You can even quil clouds!
The most basic shapes in quilling come from creating circles and pinching them into shape. If your flower sketch needs a leaf-like tear-drop shape, just pinch one side of the circle, and voila! One step closer to quilling perfection. Need an eye-shape? Pinch both sides of your circle and watch it transform. By pinching, crimping and gluing you can create a wide variety of shapes. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Apply small amounts of glue to your shapes and their contact points. You can use a toothpick to precisely apply glue to where shape meets shape and shape meets paper. Lay your shapes over your sketch and apply a little pressure while you wait for the glue to harden. Then it’s time for the best step yet:
Is your little piece of quilled perfection (or quilled experiment gone lovingly wrong) finished? Is the cardstock you used mail friendly? It’s time to send it out! Grab an envelope, put your card in, jot down your message, your friend or family’s address and slap on a stamp! You never know, they might even send you a quilling card right back.
When we were approached by the people of the organization ‘Quilling Card’ in 2014, we were awestruck by the beauty and intricate designs on their cards. But what really blew us away was the story behind the cards.
‘Quilling Card’ is rooted in Vietnam and has assembled a team of professional female quilling artists that passionately work on creating these elaborate designs. In turn, they teach members of the community the art of quilling and how to recreate their designs. ‘Quilling Card’ supplies the community with the tools, skills and paper needed to create the quilling cards. They are then paid per piece finished, providing the community societal aid for those with disabilities.
‘Quilling Card’ means beauty inside and out, with every purchase supporting those with disabilities.
I love tilting these cards to see all the little details. Every time I do, I discover a new element. They’re colorful and beautiful for a good cause. -Bunny Yan, founder of theSquirrelz.com