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Quilling: Basic Materials and Technique


Quilling or paper filigree is a lovely art in which strips of paper are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative shapes and designs. Although the art of quilling flourished during the Renaissance, its history may reach as far back as Ancient Rome.

To begin quilling, first you need lightweight paper, since thicker cardstock weight will not roll well. You can use scrap paper of any kind, although specific solids or metallics can work well for different projects. This is a great way to get rid of junk mail.

You need to cut the paper into strips. For speed and ease, nothing beats a paper shredder. If you don’t have access to a paper shredder, you can use a paper cutter (or paper guillotine) or just regular scissors. Most quillers swear by 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch strips, the thicker being less time consuming in cutting.

Once the strips are cut, you need a rolling implement such as a toothpick, needle, or pin. Moisten the end of the strip with a damp washcloth to allow the paper strip to roll around the implement easily. You can also run your fingernail or the rolling implement along the length of the paper to “condition” the paper and make it more pliable.

You roll the paper up around your rolling implement and secure with a dot of glue. Any white glue will work. Tight circles work well as key components for things such as snowflakes. For different designs (such as flowers), you will take the paper tool off the tool and let it unravel a bit before gluing. Pinching the roll on one end will give you a petal shape.

Remember to protect your table from the glue and any cutting tools. A pair of tweezers is handy for manipulating the quilled shapes and moving them around.

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