What is quilling and how to get started

By Nicole Tinkham

What is quilling and how to get started Image from Creative Commons by Ipshita B
Are you mesmerized by paper art? If you’re anything like me, you think detailed projects like quilling and many other paper crafts are way over your head. Based on the research I’ve done, quilling just takes a lot of time and patience. With that being said, everything else is actually pretty simple and basic. Very few supplies are needed, creating the basic shapes are simple, and you can even use patterns to help you with the design part. So as long as you have the patience to take on quilling, read on to learn more about the craft and how to get started.

What is quilling?

Quilling is the art of coiling strips of paper to form beautiful designs. While the term “quilling” may be new to your vocabulary (it was for me!), this art form has been around for hundreds of years dating back to the Renaissance. The quilling process hasn’t changed much over the years but the tools and designs have been updated. Many designs are very detailed and some are even in the form of huge installations. Each project can be so unique and that’s what we love about quilling.

The supplies

–    Strips of paper in various colors depending on your design. You can find pre-cut strips at the craft store or you can cut your own using a paper trimmer. We recommend practicing first with ordinary copy paper.

–    Clear glue suitable for paper

–    A tool to help roll the paper (you can purchase one at a craft store or just use a bamboo skewer or toothpick)

If you are purchasing tools from the craft store, you’ll notice two different types: A needle tool and a slotted tool. The slotted option will be easier to work with but may leave a crease in the center of your coil.

–    Tweezers (used for pinching coils to form oval forms)

–    Straight pins (used to hold pieces in place while they dry and to apply glue)

–    Styrofoam board or place to allow work to dry

–    Damp paper towel to keep fingers clean

–    Scissors to trim excess paper

How to begin

There are many shapes that can be created in quilling but we’re going to start with a basic coil. Here’s how it’s done.

1.    Wrap a strip of paper tightly around your quilling tool until you reach the end of the paper.

2.    Release the coil from the tool and let it relax.

3.    Glue the end of the paper to the coil to keep it in place. All it takes is a tiny drop of glue. You can apply glue with the tip of a needle.

There are a TON of other shapes to move forward with:

•    Teardrop
•    Curved teardrop
•    Marquise
•    Double-curved marquise
•    Square
•    Diamond
•    Rectangle
•    Gumdrop
•    Half moon
•    Oval
•    Bunny ear
•    Duck foot
•    Triangle
•    Arrowhead
•    Tight coil

Get the tutorials here!

Other things to consider

The size and length of the paper strips will change the look of your quilled shapes. You can always cut down pre-cut strips to the ideal length.

If you would like to measure your coils, a circle template comes in handy.

Once you have your basic shapes down, it’s time to make something out of them. A great place to start is with greeting cards because you don’t need anything elaborate for them.

Get creative and think outside the box. You can even create quilled earrings!

Once you get the hang of the basics, look into patterns and other resources for inspiration on more advanced pieces.

Quilling takes a lot of PATIENCE! Keep with it and keep practicing to get better at it.

Although the supplies needed and the tutorials mentioned in this blog seem super simple, if you don’t have the time and the patience to sit down and really focus on your project, it’s very easy to become frustrated. Just BREATHE! If you get in the zone and keep your cool, it can actually become quite relaxing. Don’t worry about being perfect especially when first starting out. As with anything, it takes plenty of practice to get the hang of it.
Tell us, have you ever tried quilling? What did you think of it?

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