Quilling: Pa­per craft lends el­e­gance to Valen­tine’s cards

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - JEN­NIFER FORKER

Want to add a lit­tle panache to your Valen­tine’s Day cards?

Learn how to roll a few quilling shapes — hearts, teardrops and petals, for starters — to con­vey your love.

Quilling — an an­cient craft also known as pa­per fili­gree — doesn’t re­quire any spe­cial tools to get started. It’s es­sen­tially the rolling of nar­row strips of pa­per to make sim­ple shapes for use in art­work and hand­made cards. Com­ple­men­tary tech­niques have de­vel­oped over time, such as del­i­cately cut and curled or fringed flow­ers.

A quilled card that she re­ceived sev­eral years ago fas­ci­nated Kari Cron­baugh-Auld of Olathe, Kan., so she got to ex­per­i­ment­ing — and then per­fect­ing — her craft. To­day, she sells hand­made cards and other gifts at her on­line Etsy shop, Quillique. Wed­ding in­vi­ta­tions framed by in­tri­cate, quilled de­tails are a top seller.

“It looks easy, but it’s time-in­ten­sive,” says Cron­baugh-Auld, a so­cial worker and grant writer who quills in her spare time.

A sim­ple Valen­tine’s Day card — one heart or a few scrolls — is a good project for be­gin­ners.

Cron­baugh-Auld, who is self­taught, rec­om­mends pick­ing up a quilling kit at a craft store and watch­ing tu­to­ri­als on YouTube. Quilling books in­clude sup­ply lists and ba­sic tech­niques.

Quilling pa­per and equip­ment, such as a slot­ted tool — the slot at the tip helps start pa­per rolling — are sold at craft stores. Be­gin­ners also need fine-tipped tweez­ers and craft glue that dries clear and quickly. And that’s about it.

Af­ter all, none of these sup­plies were even avail­able to the Re­nais­sance monks and nuns who dec­o­rated holy pic­tures and relic ves­sels with the pre­cious strips of gold­edged pa­per that re­sulted from book­mak­ing. Their pa­per fili­gree — cre­ated by wrap­ping thin pa­per strips around a feather quill — repli­cated iron­work pat­terns of the day.

Dur­ing the Vic­to­rian era, well­heeled young ladies learned quilling in ad­di­tion to needle­work. The craft trav­elled to the Amer­i­cas, where it was used to dec­o­rate cab­i­nets, crib­bage boards and pic­ture frames, says Cron­baugh-Auld.

“Hun­dreds of years ago, quilling was done by peo­ple who wanted to make dec­o­ra­tive things for their homes,” says Han­nah Mil­man, a Martha Ste­wart Liv­ing con­tribut­ing edi­tor. “Pa­per was pre­cious. I’m sure ev­ery scrap was kept.”

Mil­man quilled pa­per beads as a child. She strung them on elas­tic thread to make neck­laces.

“I never knew it was quilling,” Mil­man re­calls.

“I just did this in­stinc­tively, and I’m sure a lot of peo­ple did this around the world.”

Mil­man fondly re­calls us­ing the glossy pages of her par­ents’ New Yorker mag­a­zines.

“It was such per­fect pa­per and smooth. It rolled up re­ally well,” she says.

A re­use-and-re­cy­cle ad­vo­cate, Mil­man rec­om­mends cut­ting one’s own quilling strips — 1/8-inch and ¼-inch widths are com­mon — with scis­sors, pa­per cut­ter or shred­der.

Scrap­book and con­struc­tion pa­pers are too thick, but sim­ple white craft pa­per works well, she says. Dye it, splat­ter it with paint — make it your own. “It looks amaz­ing, re­ally el­e­gant.” She rec­om­mends “go­ing big.” Al­though quilling was tra­di­tion­ally a del­i­cate craft for small projects, Mil­man now sees it used in home decor. For par­ties, dec­o­rate with gi­ant coils in­stead of the ubiq­ui­tous tis­sue-pa­per pom­poms, or quill a gi­ant wall heart.

Think out­side of tra­di­tional quilling colours, too, she says. For Valen­tine’s Day, insert some sil­ver in among the pinks and reds, or ac­cent a tra­di­tion­ally white-quilled card with a smat­ter­ing of colour.

When you get more in­volved in quilling, Cron­baugh-Auld says, there are more tools that might help, many that cross over from scrap­book­ing and other crafts. The key in­gre­di­ent? Pa­tience. “It’s like learn­ing how to knit or cro­chet. When you start out, you have to be pa­tient with your­self.”


Open coil scrolls in var­i­ous shades of red and pink pa­per com­bine to cre­ate a heart shape on a Valen­tine.

Two teardrop coils and two smaller bent teardrop coils com­bine with an open coil scroll to cre­ate a Valen­tine’s Day mes­sage.

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