Paper quilling is the art of manipulating and arranging small strips of paper into detailed designs. Depending on the desired shape and appearance, it can be rolled, looped, twisted, and curled before the paper strips are secured into place using glue.
The art of paper quilling has been around for centuries, with a remarkably varied historical background spanning across continents. Like many forms of craft, paper quilling can trace its origins back hundreds of years. Some people believe that paper quilling started in China after the invention of paper, while others think the craft had its origins in the 13th century. It’s said that nuns would roll strips of gilded paper cut from books and would fashion the filigree to simulate carved ivory and wrought iron — two very costly details. These would be used to imitate the iron decoration that was used as metal ornamentation in home décor or to decorate religious objects in an effort to save money. When the paper quilling was gilded, it was hard to distinguish from metal, making it a good option for struggling churches.
Paper quilling peaked in England during the 18th century. In addition to embroidery, the craft was considered a “proper pastime” for young women and was taught in boarding schools, as well as to “ladies of leisure” because it was seen as not too “taxing” for them. Quilling’s influence spread to the United States, but the practice waned by the 19th century.
Today, quilling is resurfacing again as a more accessible, affordable hobby for people of every age and background. People practicing quilling today are afforded many options for tools and an array of different weight, quality, and paper thickness. Today, some aficionados focus on making incredibly detailed 3-D figures, while others favor wall-sized museum installations.
Commonly Asked Questions For Paper Quilling
What is the best way to begin paper quilling? Just getting started with paper quilling and don’t have any supplies? The best tool to purchase is a beginner’s quilling kit. You can find these kits anywhere if you just search ‘paper quilling kit’ online. The kits will come with easy-to-follow instructions that teach the basics of paper quilling. There is also a great selection of free quilling videos that teach you this wonderful craft.
What tools are needed to get started in paper quilling? The main tool most beginners start with is the Slotted Quilling Tool. It is also a good idea to use a Circle Sizer Ruler or Circle Template Board so that your coils are a consistent size. Paper quilling is done with text weight paper, which is heavier than printer paper but much lighter than card stock. Cardstock does not work well for quilling since it tends to bend instead of roll. You will also want a water-based craft glue that is not too tacky or sticky. You want a glue that will dry quickly and dry clear. We highly recommend and sell Elmers Craft Bond Glue.
What is the most popular paper size for quilling?
Most paper quilling is done with the 1/8″ (3mm) wide quilling paper. The 1/4″ and 3/8″ papers are used for miniatures, folded roses and fringed flowers.
Paper Quilling Tips and Tricks
Use pre-cut paper quilling strips for your first projects. Your initial attempts will have better results if you use precise machine-cut papers. Once you are comfortable with basic paper quilling techniques, you can cut your paper strips and explore your creativity by experimenting with more advanced methods.
Start with smaller sized projects first. You can quickly become overwhelmed when trying to tackle a craft project that is too complicated or too large. Small projects can promote feelings of success and accomplishment and can be the building blocks the help you master your skills one step at a time. Once you have mastered the basics, you can attempt complicated projects with ease.
It’s important to choose your quilling tools thoughtfully. You don’t need to buy any expensive tools to create paper filigree art initially–a toothpick or bamboo skewer will roll paper strips adequately. If you are bitten by the paper quilling bug and wish to continue, you should purchase a slotted quilling tool and a needle tool. You can place the strip of paper into the upper slot of the slotted tool, giving you more control when rolling the paper strips. A needle device is a sizeable tapered needle with a long wooden handle. It helps you keep a steady hand when rolling strips of paper into various shapes. Both tools are quite helpful when you are working on large, complicated paper quilling projects.
When gluing your rolled paper shapes, always remember to use glue sparingly. Too much glue can quickly ruin your project, which you may have worked on for hours. You can avoid the hassle of starting a project over with a little bit of caution. You can always add a bit more adhesive if necessary, but cannot remove excess glue. Remember the design rule “Less is More.”
Some beginners find using a premade quilling pattern quite helpful when first starting out. There are hundreds of paper quilling patterns available for purchase or free download on the internet. These printable patterns can guide beginners and help them build their skills.
All you have to do is place the printed pattern under a sheet of waxed paper and follow the suggestions. You will quickly have a quilling “masterpiece” that you will be proud to give as a gift or display in your home.
Learn the basic shapes before working on a paper quilling project. It can be quite helpful to make a master page of basic paper quilling shapes. Glue different shapes to a piece of cardboard to use as a reference sheet when working on various projects. The guide serves as both a reference and an inspiration source.