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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quilling Without a Pattern

Quilling without a Pattern

Where do I get patterns for quilling? How can I quill without a pattern? These are frequently asked questions, especially for new quillers. Most people when they look at quilling for the first time are overwhelmed by its complexity. That’s because they are looking at a finished piece not the components that make up the piece. When I taught basic quilling classes, I would always bring in a piece with a quilled border and tell my students that by the end of the class, they would be able to duplicate the border. Then I teach them the basic shapes and go back to the border to show them each coil they have just learned. They are always astounded! The border they thought was so complex is now relatively simple. I don’t teach using patterns because I never wanted my students to feel limited to what the pattern calls for. After they have learned the basic shapes, I give them each a small mat board or card and encourage them to “do their thing”. It is fascinating to see how a group of ten students will come up with ten totally different ideas.

I do demonstrate how to quill using a pattern, but I have never enjoyed trying to make my quills “fit” on a pattern. If I use a pattern at all it is just a starting point, to give me ideas. I like having lots of quilling books around for the same reason. I can be sitting, having a cup of tea, and leafing through a quilling book and sometimes a technique or combination of colors just jumps out at me, and I think “Why didn’t I think of that!” It is easy to get in a rut, with or without patterns. My best friend was looking through the new 2008 Accord calendar and told me she could pick out all of my work without looking at the names. I asked her how. (She is not a quiller; how could I have a best friend who is NOT a quiller you ask? That’s another story.) She said she could pick my work out by the colors I use, and she’s right. When I think about it, I am drawn to softer more muted tones, when I look at my sample wall; that’s what I see. But I digress. When I took on the calendar project with Accord and started contacting quillers, some of them said they couldn’t participate because they couldn’t think of something original or small enough. I am just finishing up the work on the third calendar, the 2009, and what quillers told me this time, was how could they think up something that hadn’t already been done? But you can ask 10 people to make a Christmas tree, or an angel, or a poinsettia, and as long as you DON’T give them a pattern, you will end up with very different pieces. As we have again this year.

So how do you quill without a pattern? Well some like to get an outline drawing, the kind you find in coloring books or clip art collection and then just fill in the outline with marquises or teardrops, whatever fits. I prefer to get an actual picture, in color and then try to duplicate the color texture and feel with quilling strips. When I do birds or butterflies I may use wheatears to get the look of feathers and the lacey look of butterfly wings. I usually go to books like Audubon guides to make my pieces look as realistic as possible. It is trial and error sometimes to get the “feel” of the piece, and because of that I don’t write down instructions and make patterns for the pieces I do, but it works for me.

When I am working on small things like the calendar pieces, I often use stickers for my inspiration. I am a sticker nut! I buy those great big calendars at Staples or Office Max, write my appointments on them and then as the days go by, cover each day with a sticker appropriate for that month. You can’t even imagine how many snowman stickers I have for January. I also do some scrapbooking (actually what I am doing is our entire family’s life story in matching albums, scrapbook style) and I often use stickers there. When I found my Dad after 55 years of not knowing who or where he was, I made him a scrapbook/photo album of me, growing up. You know the kind of pictures, me with no teeth, a broken arm, graduating from high school etc, and lots of stickers. Oh yes, and lots of quilling strips, because I use them to border my pages, and use border punches on them to dress them up. My Dad treasures that book, it helps him get back some of the years we lost) but here I go digressing again! My stickers can be inspirational. In the 2009 calendar, I did a little black cat sitting in a pumpkin, a penguin on ice skates, an Irish teddy bear, a witches head, and a jack-o-lantern with a handle . . . all were ideas I got from stickers. For the witches face I used green tight rolls because I wanted her to have warts. I wanted the penguin to look chubby so I used a large loose coil for his tummy and head and crescents for his back and feet. That’s what I mean about playing with the shapes to get the “feel” you want.

When I am doing borders for things like wedding invitations or baby announcements I try to incorporate the theme on the announcement. I even did a quilled Mickey Mouse on an invitation that sported Mickey and Minnie, on a Korean wedding invitation I duplicated the flowers on the cover of the invite. If the announcement has sail boats or sea shells, I work them into the border. Last year I did a border around a poem a bridegroom had written for his bride. In it he likened her to the many wild flowers she loved and voila!, I had a new wildflower design. Try it! Try thinking outside of the box. Look around you; use the many quilling books in your library or in your town library to give you inspiration. It works!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving & Christmas Quilling

Happy Thanksgiving & Christmas Quilling

Well, here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I think this is supposed to mark the beginning of the Christmas season (although I’ve been noticing Christmas stuff in the stores since before Halloween). Oh well, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, none of the “hoopla” or “commercialization” (is that really a word?) that seems to come with Christmas. It’s a time for friends, family, fellowship and food . . . just a nice easy relaxing day. We each bring a different part of the dinner so it doesn’t end up being a monster job for any one person and we spend the whole day visiting.

However, when it comes to quilling . . . Christmas is queen! There is no end to the Christmas quilling ideas and they just keep coming. Over the years, especially when I sold my work at craft fairs, I made all kinds of Christmas ornaments. I think my first quilling was a snowflake; I still enjoy making them and hang them in the little windows on my front door. Now I make them with the gilded paper (silver on white or blue edge on white), but when I first started there was just plain old white strips and they were still beautiful. I also did free hanging ornaments like stockings, candy canes, poinsettias, and wreaths, then I started putting them on 3” circles of mat board so they wouldn’t get “lost” in the tree branches.

Somewhere along the way, I saw some of the Quill Art little dimensional figures, I thought they were adorable. (They were nowhere near as elaborate as the Jinisans I’ve talked about previously.) So I made tiny toy soldiers, Santas, angels, and Christmas mice. I put them inside of empty egg shells which I coated with diamond dust. Some I hung and others I put on little filigree stands. Everyone in my family knew that if you used an egg, you were to open it carefully, wash it out, and leave it to drain until I cut out the oval for one of my figures. Some years, I used the eggs as place cards, each egg would have the appropriate character inside and there was a little tag with a printed name. They were fun and some of my family members still have them from years ago.

Malinda Johnston used to write a newsletter called the Lake City Gazette which she sent out to her customers. One year, it had directions for a wreath made from quilled poinsettias, I loved it. It was probably about 8’ in diameter. I used it for years.

One year I got really ambitious and made dimensional Christmas trees (my original tree is pictured here on the blog and on the web site). I had no idea how I was going to make it, I just did. I will post the general instructions I wrote up for it. The fun part was decorating that little tree (it’s about 7” tall), I made little bells, ornaments, candles, stars, and roses. The one I made for my Mom (which she keeps out all year long) was decorated with Victorian fans, bows, candles, roses, and of course a tiny angel at the top.

Another year, I made a gingerbread house. I used the same pattern I used for my real gingerbread houses. (It was a family tradition while my kids were growing up, we would bake gingerbread houses and then all of my kids and their friends would decorate them . . . we would give them as gifts) I made the house out of card stock and then covered it with quilling. I don’t have a picture of it here on the blog but it is in the picture gallery of the web site and in Malinda Johnston’s Book of paper quilling. (If I were doing one today, I would use mat board as a base; it is much sturdier than card stock, but my first one was prior to our getting involved with framing and matting). Well I guess I’ve rattled on long enough about Christmas quilling. I will have to see if I have any pictures I can post (of course these were all done long before digital cameras). I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgivng and take the time to enjoy the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My Quilling Dream Store

My quilling “Dream store”

As all of you know by now, I have been quilling for 30+ years and I am still quilling. Over the years I have taught, lectured and demonstrated, written quilling newsletters, served as a regional representative here in the USA for the English guild, and held office in the North American Quilling Guild. Quilling is important to me and working to keep it alive is important to me. This in spite of carpal tunnel in both hands (got it fixed), trigger thumb in both hands (that one the chiropractor and acupuncture fixed), plus all of the joys the aging process brings (like bifocals and aching backs). I think I have beat the migraines and am now dealing with vertigo (acupuncture again) . . . but through it all, I managed to keep quilling. I was quilling when my hands were still in bandages after the carpal tunnel surgery. I’ve quilled with my hand in a splint. I switched my work area over to a drafting table to help my neck and back, but still kept quilling. I love it! I love the challenge of trying something new. I love the look on someone’s face when it finally hits them that they are looking at paper. I love the “light bulb” moment when a newbie realizes that THEY can quill. I love it when someone I have taught or helped inn some way creates something that is awesome!

I explained in an earlier post that when I couldn’t find supplies in the stores, I started buying wholesale, so I would have what I needed and be able to make the supplies available to other quillers. I hear quillers all the time wishing that there was a store that carried a full line of quilling supplies. If someone asked me what my “dream “quilling store would be like, this is what I would say. “I would like to shop in a store where the people actually know what quilling is and be familiar with the products they carry and be willing to answer questions. If I called the store to see if they carried a specific product, I would get to talk to a real person (knowledgeable) and not get stuck in voice mail jail where I spend 15 minutes (on my dime) listening to an automated voice telling me to press #1, #2 etc. and never get to talk to a human. I would like to be able to leave a message and get a call back within a reasonable length of time. I would like to shop in a store that carries a HUGE selection of papers, in all the colors and sizes I like to use. I don’t usually use kits, but my dream store would have lots of kits from different quillers and manufacturers, because even if you don’t quill from a kit, you can get all kinds of good ideas from them. My “dream” store would have lots and lots of books on quilling, not just one or two, because you always learn something new from a book even if it just the inspiration to try a new technique. If I were physically unable to get to my “dream” store, it would have a terrific web site with pictures of everything they carry. I would be able to go to the web site and type in the word “green” and see how many green papers they had, or click on “gilded papers” and see all of the colors available. My “dream” store would have lots of tools for me to choose from and all of the latest items available in the quilling world.”

Here’s where it gets exciting for me. At the risk of blowing my own horn, I finally have my “dream” store and it’s called . I’ve spent literally years building up an inventory that includes a huge variety of specialty papers, plus all of the “standard’ stuff. We not only carry papers, tools, books, and kits from the big guys like Lake City, Paplin, Quilled Creations, and J&J, but we carry kits and books from the little guys, like Quirky Quillers, Jinny Alexander, Paige Meeker, Cathy Schlim, and Bruce Yanochek) I checked every plastic bottle I could get my hands on before I decided on the soft plastic fine tip glue bottle we sell. (Ours is nice and soft so tired fingers like mine can squeeze it easily). We carry a variety of tools so you have a choice of fringers or slotted tools.

We have been working on our new web site for four months and are almost finished. I am really proud of it and would like to invite you to take a look. We have broken our product line down into every possible category to make it easy to find what you are looking for, more than 1,300 items. We have a wonderful photo gallery and a book review page, and of course a link right here to our blog. We have a ‘blow out sale” page for items that are being discontinued at really great prices. The only thing the web site doesn’t do is give me the opportunity to “chat” with you the way I can here. I’d love to hear back from you . . . maybe there is something you think I should add to my dream store. Let me know.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quilling for Scrapbooks and Photo Albums

Quilling in Scrapbooks and Photo Albums

I am not the scrapbooking person in our family. That would be my daughter Christie, the one who manages my Ebay store, juggles a full time job, takes care of a husband and two dogs, and makes wonderful scrapbooks. A diehard Yankees fan, she did a great scrapbook to commemorate her first game at Yankee Stadium. What does this have to do with quilling? She used 1/8" navy blue quilling strips to PIN STRIPE the pages for her Yankee Scrapbook.

I, on the otherhand, have a thing about preserving our family history and passing it on to my kids. Between my husband and myself we have five children, all grown. I started keeping family photo albums years ago, you know, take the pictures and then stick them in one of those '"sticky page" things they used to call photo albums. Then a distant relative passed away and when we started going through "stuff", there were all of these pictures with no names or explanations. That's when I decided to redo the family photos. Now they look more like a family story book, with funny little annecdotes about how and when we got the dogs, graduations, weddings,silly pictures etc. After seeing my daughter's scrapbooks, I decided to dress up my photo albums as well. I use quilling strips to border most of my pages, sometimes combining different widths, sometime using border punches on the wider strips. I always have just the right colors to go with all of my pages because the strips come in so many colors. They may not have an adhesive backing like some of the border strips sold in stores, but I use my fine tip glue bottle and I'm good to go.

Several years ago, I was asked to do a taping for the DIY network on quilling for scrapbooks. That really made me think about adding quilling to my own pages. Now, I have ten volumes of family photos, and trust me, there are a lot more quilling paper borders, than there is quilling, but little by little I am going back and adding a little quilled here and there. The albums all sit on a book shelf in our living room and everytime we are all together somebody pulls one out and starts reminiscing. I have put some of my favorite pages up in the picture gallery on my "new" web site with little blurbs about each one.

It's kind of funny, there are quillers who don't even want to hear about scrapbooks (I think scrapbooking is a lot more expensive than quilling), and when the scrabooking craze first started there were people who said you couldn't use quilling because it wasn't flat. But as scrapbooking has evolved, and more and more dimensional embellishments are being added, the interest in quilling continues to grow. At Whimsiquills, we try to encourage that growth and carry a number of kits and books geared toward scrapbooking. I think the designs in the Accord quilling calendar are perfect for scrapbooking. Twenty years ago, the quillers worried that quilling might die out, today is seems to be alive and well becoming more main stream every day. Hooray!! That's just what we wanted, and the scrapbookers are helping.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Business of Quilling

The Business of Quilling

I am often asked about how to go about starting a quilling business. Probably the best advice I can offer is based on my own experience with Whimsiquills. I started quilling 30+ years ago as a hobby. I always enjoyed working with my hands, and quilling just seemed to suit me. I gave some of my work away as gifts and soon began to get requests from people who were willing to pay for my work. When I decided to get serious about selling my work, I tried a number of venues which helped me build up a customer base and advertise my work at the same time. Here are some thought starters:

Local Craft or Artist’s Guild-join your local or state craft guild. They often have directories of craft shows, craft malls, opportunities for demonstrations and workshops, and you are listed in their directories as a quiller.

Demonstrate- volunteer to demonstrate for your local women’s club, scouts, church groups, adult education, historical society, etc. When you demonstrate, have some of your finished work available for the audience to see, simple pieces as well as show stoppers. Encourage them to ask questions. I never charged for demonstrating, but always got paid by the new customers and orders I picked up.

Your name-put your name, addresses, and phone number on every piece you sell. Even something small like a magnet or gift card should have either a hang tag or a sticker with your information on it. I like to print a small card with an explanation of quilling on it, my company logo, and name etc. Many people who receive small items as gifts go on to become good customers, but they have to know how to find you. You can print stickers, and hang tags on your home PC.

Business cards-they are inexpensive (you can even print them yourself) and you can put lots of information on them. It’s amazing how many people will pick up a card and call later, even years later. (When I sold at craft shows, I used a double sided business card with the explanation of quilling on the back, so people would remember who I was). I also give customers magnetic business cards so they can “put me on their refrigerator”. You can purchase magnets to fit business cards at office supply stores; there is also magnetic card stock available that can go through an ink jet printer.

Press releases-if you win an award, attend a conference, give a demonstration for the historical society, and do a press release. Press releases are often followed up by newspaper interviews, sometimes including photographs of you and your work. This is wonderful FREE advertising. There is info online and in the library about writing press releases.

Mailing List- maintain a list of your customers and do periodic mailings. I usually did post card mailings, they are inexpensive, and if you print them on brightly colored card stock, your customer cant help but read it before s/he tosses it. I always get calls from customers after a mailing, sometimes all they need is a little reminder. Mailings also help keep your customer list up to date, cards may be returned with a new address from the post office, and some will be forwarded to customers who may call to give you their new mailing info. I never buy mailing lists or put anyone’s name on my list unless they ask to be included. Purchased mailing lists are a waste of money since the majority of people on them have no idea what quilling is anyway.

Home parties-I gave a very brief history of quilling, a short demonstration, showed sample pieces and took orders. I showed small things like baby frames, plaques for kid’s rooms, small floral pieces, and one or two larger pieces, like wedding invitations. The hostess received a credit of 20% of the total party order towards anything she ordered. I went home, completed the order and returned it to the hostess. Of course I got everyone’s name, address and phone number, which was the beginning of my customer list.

Local craft shows-PTA’s, churches, and local civic organizations often hold craft shows as fundraisers. The booth or table fees are nominal, and once again, it gets you out in front of the public and acquaints them with quilling. I always demonstrated at my table, which is enough to get people to stop and visit. As all quillers know, there are very few people who really know what they are looking at when they see a piece of quilling; demonstrating is a great way to educate the public. I would always have a sign up sheet for interested “potential” customers, and of course took the name and address of any one who bought.

Juried Craft Shows-these are a lot more expensive and often run for several days, some require slides or photos of your work and/or display set up. Juried shows are often well advertised, and you may be listed in press releases as a participating artist. I always demonstrated at these shows as well and had sign up sheets for “potential “ customers, as well as business cards. You can also have flyers announcing future show you are doing. It’s kind of “trial and error” deciding what you want to sell at craft shows. I found that small items sold well, but I always had some larger more expensive pieces on display as well. You also have to be able to produce enough inventory so you don’t run out of stock during the show. (Once I had a customer base, I stopped doing shows. I found the amount of time involved in traveling, setting up, doing the show, breaking down, and then doing the paperwork, took too much time away from production. But that is only my personal feeling; many quillers sell their work at shows.)

Craft Malls-once I stopped doing shows, I started selling my work through craft malls. I would rent space for a monthly fee, set up my display, and let the store staff sell my work for me. I did this for a number of years. Some craft malls are very good, others are poorly run. Your display needs to be “eye catching’, and you need to have an explanation of what quilling is that is very visible. As you know, people will stop and look at a quilled piece and not have any idea of what they are looking at. Signage is important, especially when the store staff is not available to answer questions. You really have to do your homework, (here’s where craft guilds can be helpful. They often rate craft malls) and once again have enough inventory to keep the shelves stocked. As always, my name was on every piece, and a sign up for my mailing list was available.

I no longer do craft malls, since my customer base is so large that they keep me pretty busy with custom orders. A large percentage of my work is wedding related. The quilled wedding invitation is still a best seller and brides love them. Many of my best customers received their own invitation as a gift and go on to give them to friends and family. I also do anniversary, baby, graduation and other special occasion frames. I don’t advertise at all, my customers do it for me.

Hopefully this information has been helpful; if you have questions (or ideas) feel free to give me a call. Our toll free number in the USA and Canada is 1.877.488.0894

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quilling Applications (Where do you put your quillling?)

Where do you put your quilling?

I thought, on the heels of my little blog about Megan Wilson, that maybe it was time to talk about some of the many applications quilling has. I think I may have mentioned that my first exposure to quilling was a quilled snowflake. Quilled snowflakes look so lacey and delicate and I still love to make them, hang them in my windows and give them as little gifts. But when I decided to sell my work, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to earn much selling such a small item. Over the years, I have done quilling around literally hundreds and hundreds of wedding invitations, anniversary announcements, poems and birth announcements. These became my “bread and butter” items; there was always a market for these occasions when people are looking for a very special gift. But there are so many other applications for quilling; I usually tell people the only thing that limits them is their own imagination! Here a just a few things that I have tried or seen others try.

I still have a quilled switch plate in the Whimsiquills room that is almost twenty years old. It is a fairly simple design on a wooden heart shaped switch plate that I bought in a craft store and painted to match the woodwork in the room.

I had quilling around a mirror mounted on a wood background with a towel bar underneath in my bathroom for years until just a couple of years ago when we remodeled the bathroom. We did knock a few of the quills off from time to time, but I just replaced them . . . it was kind of neat!
I designed and quilled a chess board to go with the chess men I made from a kit. Once I made the men, I felt they had to go with a quilled board. That design is available in Malinda Johnston’s Book of Paper Quilling on pages 105-106.

Dimensional or free standing quilling can be challenging but very exciting. Jinny Alexander’s Jinisans, my tea cups and saucer, and Christmas tree all pictured here on the blog are just a few examples.

Quilled greeting cards are very popular, especially when you look at the prices for greeting cards in card shops! Why not make a really special card with your personal touch? Several years ago (2003) I did some quilled eggs and Easter cards for Family Circle magazine at their request. They sent me some colored cards with oval cut outs etc. I got a bunch of calls asking where to buy those cards; Family Circle told me they had purchased them from a little boutique in New York. Now those kinds of cards are available in craft stores and on the internet Combine your quilling with rubber stamping, embossing, Pergamano (parchment craft), and embroidery to make some very unique greeting cards. I know others have done this as well, make a removable quilled Christmas ornament part of the greeting card. I make matching quilled gift tags to give to all of my customers with their orders.

One of my quilling friends, Rick Whitman, loves to do counted cross stitch. She will stitch an appropriate Bible verse, then mat it and quill on the mat and frame the whole thing for a very special gift item.

One of the more recent applications is the use of quilling in scrap books.
Quilled jewelry, I’ve made quilled pins, earrings and stick pins. There are a couple of kits and books with jewelry designs, and we are including quilled jewelry in the 2009 Accord quilling calendar. Of course the Quilling calendar (2008 now available) was a really unique application for quilling. The first calendar was done for 2007; each page has a quilling design, the directions are printed on the back of the page, and the strips are on the bottom of the page.

And last but not least we have the Megan Wilson application just in case you missed it!

I would love to hear what everyone else is doing, I’m sure I couldn’t have possibly covered everything. Share your ideas!

FYI there are two new posts on the Whimsiquills blog, one about a very interesting artist and another on the many applications of quilling. Also for those concerned about the 2007/2008 calendars I have put in a call to Accord publishing, but I really think the two calendars on the web are actually same calendar, the 2008; (even though one picture shows the 2007 box. I was told that the leftover 2007 calendars were destroyed which upset me more than a little.) The publisher has a suggested retail price ($14.99 for the 2008 calendar), but anyone selling them can charge whatever they choose. Mega calendar is just one of the distributors that Accord (Andrews McMeil) sells to. If I find out anything different, I will be sure to post to the groups.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Specialty Quilling Papers/Strips (Graduated/Dark Center)

Specialty Quilling Papers-Graduated and Dark Centers

We get a lot of questions about the specialty papers we carry, so I thought that might be a good topic to cover here. One of the questions we get frequently is "What are they used for?" Let me get some of the basic information about the strips first, and then we'll give some suggestions as to how they can be used. When we first brought graduated and dark center strips in from England, there was nothing like them here in the USA. All of the English graduated and dark center strips are 12" long. That's because they are printed on the paper. The English graduated strips come in 10 colors and in all 4 widths: 1/16", 1/8", ¼" and 3/8"as well as mixed/multi packs. One end of the strip is very pale, (almost white) and the color gets deeper as it goes up the strip. The dark center strips are pale on both ends with the deeper color being in the middle of the strip. The English strips come in pink, orange, yellow, opal green (which is like a turquoise), bright green, blue, red, lilac, brown and black. They are available in single packages or mixed/multi packages with all ten colors. Lake City now has some papers which they call watercolors which are dark center. They are also 12" long, and come in mixed packs only, no single color packs, in 1/8", `/4", and 3/8" widths. They come in ten colors which are quite close to the English colors except they have two shades of pink and no opal green. Paplin Products have also created a line of graduated (although they are actually dark center strips) papers. They are available in all 4 widths , their colors include red, yellow, fern green, peach, purple, orange olive green, pink, federal blue, orchid, and hyacinth (which is like a pale periwinkle) I like the Paplin colors because they "match" their regular papers. For example; the English and Lake City greens are bright almost Christmas green and that's a color I only use for Christmas. Paplins olive green and fern green are the kind of greens I prefer in my work. Quilled Creations also have graduated and dark center strips in the same colors as the English strip, but don't offer them in 1/16".
OK, so what do you do with them? I guess the first thing to think about is how long a strip you usually use. I generally don't use anything longer than 6" for conventional quilled shapes, so for me the dark centers work well; I cut the strips in half and then I have two six inch graduated strips. Then you decide whether you want the lighter or darker color on the inside of your shape, and that's where you start rolling. I especially like to used the graduated strips when I am doing wheatears or alternate side looping, (you remember, that's husking without pins). The quilling in those techniques is much more open so you really get to appreciate the shading differences in the papers. I will use the whole 12" strip for husked petals and love the effect of the petal center one shade and the shade deepens as you finish the petal, with the darker shade wrapping the petal. I also like fringed flowers using the graduated and dark center papers, it is a somewhat softer look than using two totally different colors. There is also a flower that I like to make that reminds me of lupines. It is a series of open s scrolls that get progressively smaller and the shade changes very softly with these papers. I don't remember where I first saw it, probably in one of Jane Jenkins books. On page 36 of her book Quilling Techniques and Inspiration, she has a very pretty arrangement of flowers all made with graduated and dark center papers. Next up we'll talk about two toned papers, and I will get some pictures posted so you can get the effect of these and other specialty papers. I would also like to see what you are doing with these strips. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quilling Calendar

Quilling Calendar

Today’s post is about a project you may or may not be aware of. In 2006, I was approached by Accord Calendar Company to coordinate a quilling-pattern-a-day calendar for the year 2007. Accord specializes in novelty calendars; they are actually more like kits than calendars. They make an origami calendar, an airplane calendar, a scrapbooking calendar, a watercolor calendar, a watercolor calendar and many more. The calendars come in patented gift boxes which open to form an easel stand. While the pages are dated, there is no room to jot down appointments or reminders. Instead each page has a picture of a small quilled item at the top of the page. The items are generally themed with the time of the year, for example: if you are looking for Halloween ideas just flip through until you get to the month of October. The bottom of the page is die cut into 18 six inch long quilling strips in the appropriate colors to complete the piece shown at the top of the page. The directions for making the piece are on the back of the picture. I had trouble visualizing this too, until I saw an mock up of the real thing. It is such a clever idea! The box includes a small slotted tool, a quilling shape key, and general instructions. Wow! Was I impressed!

The really neat thing about this project was the fact that quilling was finally being sold and seen someplace other than craft stores, (not that you see very much of it there either.) The calendars were sold in book stores, kiosks, craft stores, mail order, and by quilling suppliers; we sold more than 150 right here at Whimsiquills. We received terrific feedback from our customers. Teachers and scout leaders bought them as a teaching aid. Quillers bought them because they just wanted the 313 design patterns. Where can you get 313 designs for only $13.99? Why only 313 designs you ask? Well in order to be able to fit all of the pages in this neat little gift box, Saturdays and Sundays were combined on one page. Oh and where did the designs come from? From quillers of course! Each design had the creators name and web site (if there was one) printed on the page. North American Quilling Guild members created the designs for the first two calendars, (2007 and 2008). It was a challenge, because the quillers had to come up with designs that were approximately 2”x2” and didn’t use more than 108” of paper. You can’t even imagine the things they came up with! Since I was coordinating the project, all of the pieces came to me. What fun! It was like Christmas every day! I couldn’t wait for the mail to come to see what delightful surprises were in store.

Well, the 2008 calendar is finished and will soon be in stores, we are anxiously awaiting our shipment, but while we are waiting we are busy working on the 2009 calendar. (Talk about confusing, you can’t imagine what it is like working on a 2009 project in 2007! I have to double check every check I write because I keep writing 2009! . . . Talk about postdating a check!) One of the reasons I am doing this blog is to reach quillers who might not have known about this project and invite them to participate. If you are interested, contact me a or if you are in the USA or Canada you can call toll free 1 877 488 0894; if you are outside of the USA or Canada, our phone number is 1860 749 0894 and the fax is 860 763 3904. If you are interested in receiving the info packet via email or snail mail just let us know. We still have lots of days open for the 2009 calendar and would love to have you submit a design. We have a list of themes we are looking for and all of the general directions which we will be glad to send you. I’d like to get all of the submissions by the end of September.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quilling is it Art or Craft?

Quilling: Art or Craft
Many quillers struggle with the question as to whether quilling is an art or craft. My personal opinion is that it depends on the quiller and who the quiller is discussing the subject with. It has been my experience that many art "shows' don't have a quilling category simply because they have no idea what quilling is. How can they make a judgment that quilling is not an art when they really don't know anything about it? Sure quilling supplies may be purchased at craft stores, but oil paints and brushes are sold a craft stores as well; does that make oil painting a craft? I have seen quilling that is undoubtedly "art", in fact, a couple of pieces of my work are presently on tour with Exhibits USA, an art museum that puts together traveling exhibits. I have also seen quilling that would only fit into the "craft" category. To further illustrate my point: my painting ability could never be considered anything other than a "hobby/craft" and could never be mistaken for art, but that doesn't mean all painting would fall into that category; there are many outstanding artists who use paint as their medium and their work would never be considered anything but art. It definitely poses an interesting question. I recently read a post by Niki Abbott, a NAQG (North American Quilling Guild) member who was asked the same question, and with Niki's permission, I am reprinting her words and thoughts for your perusal. We would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic. Niki is a Canadian quiller who also sells quilling supplies Blueberry Lane Quilling I have included this link for the convenience of our Canadian quillers. She also writes a blog

Quilling - Hobby or Art? By Niki Abbott

Recently I was challenged with the question of whether quilling was an art or just a hobby craft. To be honest, I had not really considered it until now; I assumed anything a person made through their own innate creativity was art. I had quite a bit of difficulty answering this question, and I'm not entirely sure I've done so even now; but I have managed to dig up enough information to shed a bit of light on the subject.You can ask any serious quiller whether they believe their work is an art or a craft, and they will tell you that they wholeheartedly consider their work to be art - myself included.Unfortunately, quilling is considered a hobby craft in the art world, like scrapbooking and wood burning. This is because it is most commonly associated with scrapbooking and paper crafting.From an art critique's approach, although a quilling pattern may be original, the techniques and materials used nowadays are not. And in respect to that point of view, there is no real transformation of materials or unique signature of the person who created it. To put it bluntly, any two people can go out and purchase the same or similar materials, use the same pattern and produce nearly identical pieces. And that's why quilling falls through the cracks in the art gallery floor, so to speak.I know this point of view is highly argumentative, and I want to reassure you that I do not share this opinion on quilling - I believe each piece is unique in its own way and that quilling is an art form, albeit a lost one.I posed the question to the members of NAQG (North American Quilling Guild) and received some great responses and insight. I also contacted Mary Walker, a professional quiller in British Columbia, Canada, who had managed to convince her local art community to recognize quillwork as a true art form. She currently has many pieces on display in art galleries across Canada. According to Ms. Walker, who has done extensive research in her quest to revive the artistic side of quilling, it did actually start out as a craft. The common shapes used in quilling, marquises, pegs, teardrops, etc. are Egyptian in origin. Thirteenth century quilling extended from this craft, as Italian nuns began to create them with paper on a quill.Two centuries later, the nuns were melting silver or gold and covering the exposed surfaces of the paper, softening the edges. At this point in history, a name was chosen for this pastime and 'quilling' became recognized as an art. This was because by artists' own definitions, when you add a precious or semi precious metal to anything, you have created an art form.So, unless you soften the edges of your quillwork with gold or silver, it falls under the craft category. But if melting your own gold and silver is not an option for you, there is also a special paper available at quilling supply shops which already has the edges softened, thus giving the finish you need.Once you work is gilded, then and only then are you actually quilling - and creating art.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Matting Your Quilling Part # 2

Matting your work –Part 2

When my husband went to framing school, (he really went because we needed to learn more about framing so I could frame my quilling) it opened a whole new world to me. As I explained in Part 1, I learned to work out the back of frames so I could use all different kinds of frames that previously I believed would not accommodate quilling. Quite a few pieces in the custom pieces folder are in what would be considered regular frames, (not shadowboxes). The mats are attached to the back of the frame. But today we are going to be talking about the matting, which is just as important, maybe even more so, than the frames.

There are lots of things to take into consideration when you choose matting for your work. The colors mats you use on a given piece can make it look very rich (like ivory on ivory), dramatic (black and white) or fun (like the primary colors in the cat in the hat piece. You can use soft neutral colors or strong vibrant colors. You can choose colors based on what colors are in the piece, for example you can be matting a multi colored bouquet of quilled flowers and change the whole “feel” of the piece by the colors of the matting. I like to do floral on a fairly neutral background mat so the quilling shows well against the background. Then I choose colors that are in the quilling for the matting; if I want to keep the piece on the neutral side, I might do the matting in soft shades of green, picking up the colors from the greens in the piece. If I want the piece to stand out a little more, I might use one of the other colors in the piece, for example: if I have lavenders in the piece, I might mat the piece with a lavender mat and a darker purple mat liner or I might choose another color from the flowers, like light blue with a darker blue mat liner.

Rather than just putting the quilling on a mat and framing it, I like to use the mat to create a “frame” within the mat. You can see examples of this on the Unicorn, Quilled filigree cross, and the Victorian fan. All three of those pieces are done on suede mats. Instead of just framing the pieces, I created a frame within a frame by cutting a second mat (in the same suede) and raising it slightly to give the piece a little depth and to draw the eye right to the quilling.

When I do butterflies and birds, I like to use an oval
opening with a v-groove. I usually have the quilling extend beyond the mat opening; I think it is a more interesting look. There are so many interesting things you can do with matting, especially if you are adding quilling. In the Florida Gulf Coast piece in the pics/Custom Works folder the “sand” at the bottom of the frame is a second mat which I hand cut to fit across the piece, the blue sky is a second mat which I put behind the “sand”.

Matting can come to the rescue when you are working with ready made frames and have an item that just isn’t the right size or shape for the frame, especially if you are going to be adding quilling to the piece. Let’s say you have a long narrow invitation that needs quilling/matting/framing. I will, either mat the invite off to one side and do the quilling down the other side, or I might center the invitation and then do some quilling on either side of the piece. I’d like to give you visuals for all of these examples, but rather than having you hop around between picture files and the blog, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to link the visuals in the blog itself. If any of you know how to do this . . . HELP!!!! If not I will keep working at figuring it out, but I am going to post this anyway . . . you’ll just have to come back to see the pictures! Pretty sneaky, huh?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Matting Your Quilling Part # 1

Matting your work - Part #1

In my framing blog, I mentioned that my earlier work was put on wooden plaques. I’d like to tell you a little story about why I started matting my work. I was teaching classes for Lee Ward’s (which is now Michaels). After one of the classes I had a former student come in to visit. She told me she had just completed the quilling for the wedding invitation of her best friend. She had come in to the store to have the framing department cut a mat for the invitation. She had decided to put the quilling on the mat around the invitation. She told me it had taken her so long to do the quilling that if her friend ever got divorced, she could dump the invitation and put in a picture of her dog! I cracked up when she told me this, but it made me start thinking about it. I started matting my work which made it look much more professional along with an added bonus for my customers. If the bride received another invitation gift (on a candle, dish, tray etc.) she could take the invitation out of the frame and put her wedding picture in the quilled frame instead. At this time I was still selling in stores and doing some craft shows. Framing and matting made my pieces ready to sell right off the shelf . . . now to talk about the matting process . . .

There are lots of matting options. Of course you can take your pieces to a frame shop and have mats cut by a “professional”, but be prepared to pay! My sister had a beautiful invitation which I wanted to put in an oval opening. I took it to a frame shop since I hadn’t learned how to cut ovals yet. I ordered a double mat with an oval opening which cost me $26.00 . . . that was just for the mats, no frame and that was about 15 years ago. I now have “professional” mat cutting equipment, but for years, I cut my own mats with the systems sold in craft and hobby shops. I have used both Alto and Logan systems and preferred the Logan, especially for ovals. I found the Alto templates hard to use for ovals. I used the simplest Logan mat cutter which sells for about $80. For straight cuts and the Logan Oval/Circle cutter which sells for about $70.00. Just based on the price of that one double mat you can see how cutting your own mats can be very cost effective. You can go to Dick Blick (and no he is not a guild member) and look at the Alto and Logan systems and also several books on how to cut mats. You will be surprised at the difference matting makes and you’ll save big bucks if you can do it yourself.

Where do you buy mat board? You can probably buy full sheets at your local framing or craft store. You can cut quite a few mats out of a 32”x40” sheet. When I first started cutting my own mats I went to my local frame store and spoke with the owner. Frame shops have a ton of scrap mat. They almost always save the “falls” which are the pieces that fall out when they cut a window. Lots of the falls are pretty big because they come from mats cut for posters. I asked if I could buy some of the scrap mat and the owner let me go and pick out whatever I wanted because she had so much of it. Of course you may not get the exact colors you want this way but if you are getting a deal on most of your mat board (especially if you are practicing on it), you won’t mind springing for the full sheet of burgundy suede. I still save my falls and cut them up into smaller pieces to send out to teachers etc

Matting your work makes it look much more professional. The colors and textures you choose can really dress up a piece. When I teach a matting class, I start out with an invitation and show a simple single mat. Go to our pics file and choose the reference folder, then the matting file(s). A single mat is one sheet of mat board with a window, the color can one of the colors in the invitation or the color of the ink on the invitation. I like to use a mat the color of the paper in the invitation because I know my quilling will show up better on a white or ivory mat. I have however, used a darker color mat and done all of the quilling in white, which is very dramatic. Then again, white quilling on a white mat can be very rich, it really is a matter of personal taste, yours and your customers.

To get back to the matting class, I next show the same invitation with a double mat. A double mat is just what it sounds like, two mats, one on top of the other. A narrow band of color from the bottom mat shows around the window. I almost always use a double mat, the only time I use a single mat is if I am quilling a border on it. You will see in the matting folder examples of single and double mats with oval and rectangular windows. But to get back to this invitation, I then show some variations on matting it. In one case, I actually mounted the invitation on a piece of deckle edged colored paper and then raised the whole thing by putting a piece of foam core behind it and then put a single mat on the piece for the quilling. In the last case I used a double mat, but since the invitation was in color, instead of having the narrow band around the window, I cut a panel V-Groove into the upper mat and let the lower mat show through. This piece has the quilling on it as well. Now, I know you do more than quill around wedding frames so the next time we will talk about matting things other than wedding invitations and photos.

Here are smome other samples of mat cuts:

Single Mat with Rectangular window

Single mat with oval opening & oval v grove

Double mat with oval opening

Double mat with oval opening and panel grove

Double mat rectangular opening with panel grove

Monday, July 30, 2007

Framing Your Quilling

Framing Your Work

We get lots of questions about matting and framing here at Whimsiquills. When I first started selling my work, (lol), those many years ago, I would put my quilling on wooden plaques. But my customers wanted the quilling under glass. Those of you who have been quilling for a long time may remember the metal frames put out by Intercraft. They had a plastic insert that kept the mat away from the glass, they were inexpensive and gave just the right amount of room, but they didn’t hold up very well and over the years the quality became poorer and poorer. . . and finally they became harder and harder to find. I became frustrated, just like every other quiller, trying to find a nice frame that wouldn’t look “cheap”, but that I could afford. That’s when my husband, who was in the process of changing jobs, went to framing school. Boy did he (WE) learn a lot! It took us a couple of years, but we finally found a company which mad a special double rabbet frame for us, which was really perfect for quilling! Unfortunately, we have since lost that supplier because we were only purchasing five to six hundred frames a year, Whimsiquills is just too small. (I guess everything in this country has to be supersized to make it).

When I look at a frame, the first thing I check for is the depth of the frame. The space between the lip where the glass sits and the back of the frame is called the rabbet. (We will put up pictures of everything on a sheet called Framing in the reference folder of the pics file; you might want to print out the framing sheet to refer to while reading this so it makes more sense.) The rabbit needs to be at least ½” deep, in order to accommodate fringe flowers and/or roses.

The ideal frame would have a double rabbet, (see Figure 1 on framing) one to put the glass on, and a second (lip/rabbet) a minimum of ½”back. This is where the quilled mat and whatever backing you use would rest. (The majority of framed pieces I sold and still sell are wedding invitations or baby frames. I like to have a frame where the invitation could be taken out and replaced with a wedding photo, or the baby photo could be updated. This was particularly important when my work was purchased in a store. The customer had to be able to do this for himself). The mats and backing would be held in by metal flex tabs that would lift up so it would be easy to remove the mat and change things like photographs in the quilled mat. The mat size in a double rabbet frame will be slightly larger than the glass size, so the mat sits on the second rabbet and doesn’t “fall” against the glass. You may be able to find double rabbet mouldings in some frame shops, where they can make up a frame for you in any size; they are however, very expensive. Oh well, let me tell you what I am doing for frames now.

Once again, I try to find a moulding that I like, (I prefer something that looks like a conventional frame rather than a straight sided shadowbox.) and check for the depth of the rabbet. If I have only a half inch to work with, I will try to work out of the back of the frame. (See Figure 2 on framing) This means I cut my mat to lay on the back of the frame, once again, this means cutting the mat slightly larger than the glass size so it doesn’t fall into the frame and against the glass. I usually leave about ¼” of the back of the frame showing all around the mat. After I have completed my quilling, I put a strip of double sided tape (framers call this ATG tape, it is made by Scotch and will say Adhesive Transfer Tape) on the back of the frame. This tape is paper backed so it is pretty easy to work with; don’t take the paper backing off until you are ready to put your mat on, cause it is really sticky. You might want to mark on the back of the frame exactly where you want your mat to be; if the mat doesn’t go onto the frame back nice and straight it gets a little tricky moving it back off the ATG without tearing the mat. If you have done this correctly, you will have about ¼” of the frame back showing around the edges of the mat. I generally put a second strip of ATG over the edge of the mat and right out to the edge of the frame. I then cut a piece of brown craft paper to cover and seal the back of the frame. (This is also available at frame shops and craft stores that do framing; it looks like the paper from brown paper bags but is a slightly lighter weight) I then trim the craft paper to fit the back of the frame exactly with a razor blade. If the paper seems too loose you can lightly spray it with water, when it dries it will fit nice and tight. Then add your hanger (I use saw tooth hangers) and plastic bumpons to keep it from marking the wall and most importantly your card or sticker on the back. I print out a business card size sticker with an explanation of quilling and all of my contact info.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Teaching/Learning Quilling Part #4 (Husking, Alternate Side Looping(ASL), Wheatears

Teaching Quilling-Part 4
Husking, Alternate Side Looping, Wheatears/Advanced

Oh! The wonderful things you can do with paper! In this class, I try to cover all of the things I didn’t cover in the first classes, easier said than done! This class covers husking, alternate side looping, wheatears, braiding, working with an onion holder (or comb), crimping and bandaging. I leave these topics for the last class making the assumption that by now, everyone is pretty comfortable working with those skinny little strips of paper and no longer feel like they are working with ten uncooperative thumbs! We have put some pictures up for you to refer to, a sampler with a braided basket, wheat ear and ASL (alternate side looping) flowers, alternate side looping designs in the corners (done with multiple color strips) and bandaging along the edge of the mat. We have also uploaded the instruction sheet I use as well as other example of husking etc.

Wheatears- This is a really simple technique. You simply hold the end of a strip and make a loop (you can put a tiny dot of glue where the paper passes the end of the loop.) then you continue by making a larger loop around the first and so on. When you have made as many loops as desired, cut the end of the strip and glue the end down at the starting point. Wheatears can be used for many things, they make pretty flower petals, or leaves; they can be left rounded or pinched to a point. I like to make long looping wheatears for foliage, like daffodil or iris leaves, I pinch them and curve them so they look like the real thing. Wheatears can also be done with pins, like husking, just arrange the pins in a straight line. Read on . . .

Husking-Husking is an interesting technique. Instead of rolling the paper, the paper is wrapped around pins on edge. I like to use some of the specialty papers for husking (graduated colors, two tones) because a husked piece is very open showing both sides of the strip. When I teach this class I give everyone a piece of Styrofoam, a piece of waxed paper, and a printed sheet with patterns marked out on graph like paper, and of course some pins. I start out by showing a couple of ways to get the paper started around pin #1, for me, this is always the tricky part. I show them how to wrap it around the pin several times or to make a tiny glued loop around the pin. Then we go through the steps of wrapping around pin #2, back to #1, around #3 back to #1 And so on. I tell them it is optional as to whether they want to put a dab of glue each time they get to #1, but they might want to the first time out. Once they have completed the shape, they have the option of wrapping the strip around the outside of the shape and gluing it back to the starting point. I tell them to twist the pins to remove them (just in case they got any glue on them) and then gently lift the finished piece off the waxed paper. Husking with pins has the advantage of making all of the shapes exactly the same size. With her boards there is no need for graph paper or drawing out designs. The metal pins are easily removed (they have no heads) and never “tip over” the way they do sometimes on a cork or Styrofoam board. You can see pictures of all of her boards on her web site (although she doesn’t sell retail) or on our web site Whimsiquills  We also carry Quilled Creation’s Husking Hoops & Loops, pictured on our kits page. This kit supplies a small cork board, 6 different printed husking templates, paper and pins. I would suggest making copies of your templates and using the copies for your husking so your originals don’t get too dog eared. I’m assuming you are going to love husking and want to use your templates over and over.

Alternate Side Looping-The best way I can describe this technique, is to call it husking without pins. Instead of using the board you actually hold the paper in your fingers . . . Make a loop, pass the paper under the starting pint and make a loop to one side of the center loop, pass it past the starting point and make a loop on the opposite side . . . hence the name, ASL. This is a little harder to describe without demonstrating, but there is an awesome book, “Quilling, Techniques and Inspiration” by Jane Jenkins (yes we carry it), which has great picture tutorials of all of these techniques (that’s how I learned them). I like to use the ASL technique using different color strips; instead of making the loop with one strip, I use two or three different colors, when you make the loops, pull the different color strips (just a little) so all of the colors show before gluing them.

Braiding-Braiding is just what it sounds like, take three strips (I usually tape the ends together), and then start folding, right over center, left over center and flatten and just continue just as if you were braiding hair. The look will vary depending on what width strips you are using, and when you get comfortable you can try it with 5 strips. The basket in the sampler was braided and we’ve scanned in a couple of braids “in progress” for you to see. Of course you could weave strips to make your baskets, but I think braiding or “plaiting”, as they say across the pond, is more fun. There is another type of dimensional braid which is awesome. It is the trunk of the palm tree. I used four different colored strips for the trunk. I am not even going to try to explain it without demonstrating, but look in your copy of Malinda Johnston’s “Paper Quilling (Weekend Crafter)” on page 38 and 39 and you will see Bobbye Singer’s excellent directions along with pictures. I actually penciled in 1, 2, 3, and 4 on my strips so I wouldn’t loose my place if I got interrupted. What? You don’t own a copy? Call us; we’ll get one right out to you!

Crimping-Crimping is a technique you see in a lot of antique quilling, except the early quillers didn’t have the neat little thingies we call crimpers. They made all of those tiny little folds by hand; can you imagine how long it took? You can tell they didn’t have TV back in the day! I didn’t want to break any copy write laws, by showing pictures from books, but if you have access to the Florian Papp Gallery catalogue you can see lots of crimping. Janet Wilson did a piece on page 4 of her book “The Craft of Quilling” in the style of antique quilling, you can get an idea of the way they used it. When I show how easy it is to crimp a strip with the Paplin crimper, everyone says “Well, what do you do with it?” Actually, I show a couple of crimping ideas in the flyer Paplin puts with the crimper. I like making the center of my sunflowers with a dark brown crimped strip; it kind of gives them a textured look. I also use crimped paper to make ferns in my wildflower pieces. Once again I will refer you Jane Jenkins book, “Quilling, Techniques and Inspiration” for lots of examples using crimping and there is a more recent book out by Molly Smith Christensen, “the new Paper Quilling” which has lots of crimping ideas, each one neater than the last. I LOVE her crimped watermelon and her crimped paisley mobile. Yeah! . . . We have this book too.

Onion Holder or Comb-This is not my favorite technique, although I do have to say I love the little angels everyone makes using the onion holder . . . I just don’t make them myself. We did put up a picture of a kind of snowflake I made using this technique and you can see pictures of the Quilled Creations combing kit  most of us are using onion holders instead of combs, besides the combs don’t have as many tines. You can buy the quilling comb by itself or in the above mentioned kit or you may have an onion holder in your kitchen gadget drawer! Some still refer to this technique as combing even though they are using the onion holder. The paper is wrapped around the tines flat instead of on edge, a totally different look made with the same old strips. Two tones strips work really well on some of these designs. Not to confuse the issue, but you can also make wheatears on an onion holder.

Bandaging-I was not familiar with this technique at all until some of my quilling friends came back from taking a master class at one of the English AGM’s. In this technique the strips are stacked to the desired thickness and then wrapped with a contrasting color. The sampler I keep mentioning (see top of page)has bandaging along the straight sides of the mat. I stacked dark blue, light blue and then dark blue strips and then wrapped them with a white strips. There is a great picture of bandaging in an antique piece on page 9 of Malinda Johnston’s “Book of Paper Quilling.” You will probably have to go to the library to see it as this book is now out of print.

As you can imagine I come to classes with armloads of books, samples, and quilling supplies in an effort to give as much information as I can cram into a session. I just realized as I was proofreading this, that somehow I turned all the pronouns around and it sounds like I am teaching you instead of trying to help you teach others. Oh well . . . I’m sure you got the gist. I hope it has been helpful . . . that’s all for now. Future topics include matting, framing, pricing, and quilling as a business . . . not necessarily in that order. Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Teaching/Learning Quilling Part # 3 (Wide Quill & Dimensional Quilling)

Teaching Quilling-Part 3

Wide Quill and Dimensional Quilling

The second class I teach is using the wider papers, and some dimensional quilling basics. Each student gets a multi pack of ¼”, and 3/8’ papers. I ask them to bring their tools and 1/8” strips from the previous class. I begin with the wide quill roses, because that is such a popular flower. The rose seems to take more practice than any other flower I’ve taught so that is usually the one I start out with.

Once again, in the interest of saving time, I precut the 3/8’ paper into the size pieces I use for roses. All of the quillers who take this class have already completed the basic class so they are pretty comfortable using the slotted tool, which is what I use to curl back the edges of each rose petal. When you look at the instruction sheet, you will notice that I do my rose centers a little differently than shown in most of the quilling books. (When I was taught to make roses, I was taught to put a loose coil in the center of the flower.) I like to continue making rose petals for the center by using ¼” hole punches. I fill the center of the flower with tacky glue and then stand the curled smaller petals (1/4” dots) up in the glue. I roll one dot into a tube and glue it shut for the very center of the rose. I also like to use several shades of the same color to make the roses more realistic. Ex: the first row of outside petals a very pale pink, the next row a little darker, and the center petals a darker shade. After the class members have completed their first rose, we move on to other flowers that can be created using ¼” and 3/8” papers. The class then learns how to “fringe” strips using scissors, and then how to combine different fringed strips to create an interesting variety of flowers. Once again, I “pre-fringe” some strips so students will have time to practice combining the different sizes.

I spend a little time in this class talking about dimensional quilling. This includes stacking or layering traditional shapes to create more of a 3-D effect and actually creating 3-D figures. Of course we cover the basics, learning to make tight rolls and then shaping them so they can be used to make tiny flower pots, or teddy bear bodies. I also show some outstanding examples of 3-D figures. I think Virginia Alexander’s (also a NAQG member) “Jinisans”are unsurpassed examples of quilled figures. Her book “Quilling in the Third Dimension” gives very detailed information about creating quilled figures . . . and yes we try to keep that one in stock as well. Examples of some 3-D quilling are shown in our gallery, I have a few of my dimensional pieces there, like the tea cup and the Christmas tree, and one of Sherry Rodehaver’s little tea cup critters, and be sure to look at the “Jinisans”, they are favorites of mine.

The last topic we cover in this class are some very basic “punch” flowers. While they are probably not considered to be quilling in a technical sense, punch flowers combine so well with quilling, that I like to include them in my classes. Again, I just cover some very basic ones to save time, I have some punched circles and hearts all ready for the class and then show them how to assemble them by using a tweezer to stand the petals up in a little dot of tacky glue, and then adding a quilled center. Sherry Rodehaver (yes she is also a NAQG member) has a great web site with lots of punches. If you enjoy playing with punch flowers, it is a must see. Here is a link to her site which we will also put on our resources folder.

FYI-in case you hadn’t noticed, we have some extremely talented people in the North American Quilling Guild (NAQG). If you haven’t already joined our ranks, you can join too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teaching/Learning Quilling Part # 2 (Basic Shapes)

Teaching Quilling-Part 2

Basic Shapes

I begin my first class by showing some borders and designs made with the basic shapes and I tell my students that by the end of this first class they will be able to create any one of the designs I show them. Of course, they don’t believe me. I then show them how to roll with a slotted tool, a needle tool, and finger rolling; I generally pre-cut some practice strips into two lengths, (3” and 6”) just to save time. Each student gets a package of mix/multi colored 1/8” strips and a slotted tool. I would ask my students to bring a small pair of sharp straight blade scissors and a pair of pointed tweezers from home. (I would always have extras on hand in case someone forgets to bring them) I didn’t require them to purchase a work board although I always had some of them on hand as well (especially since we sell all of the supplies), but for the class I would give each person a piece of Styrofoam covered with waxed paper, a damp paper towel, and a fine tipped glue bottle to use. Then they are ready to start.

The first thing I do is ask them all to take a 6” strip and insert it into the slotted tool and roll up the length of the strip. Then I tell them to let the coil fall off the tool into their hand, and to show me the loose coil. This is when I explain to them that different people will have different tension in their coils; just like two knitters can use the same weight yarn, the same size needles, yet one might knit very tightly and another very loosely. This usually helps them relax a little when they realize their coil doesn’t have to be exactly the same size as their neighbors. I go on to explain that the rolled coil is the basis for almost all of the shapes they will use in quilling.

I provide a shape chart for each participant; we go through how to make the various shapes and they can glue them right on a blank shape chart. I often suggest they make the shapes with the 3” and 6’ strips so they can see the difference in size. We have a shape chart for you here, feel free to download them and print them out if you are so inclined, I only ask that you leave the Whimsiquills info on them so people can find us. Although we sell kits and patterns here at Whimsiquills, I don’t use them while teaching. I explain the difference between kits and patterns and show them how to use a pattern, by placing it on a work board and covering it with waxed paper or Mylar. I explain how important it is to make sure the quills are glued to each other rather than the waxed paper, and how to gently remove the finished piece or section of a piece by slowly peeling the waxed paper off the back of the piece without “popping” any of the quills. After everyone has practiced the various shapes, I bring out the finished pieces I showed them at the beginning of the class. I then point out all of the shapes they have just learned in the borders and designs. They are always amazed at how simple the design really is when you break it down into the various shapes. I then give each student a card or piece of mat board and encourage them to create their own design. It is fascinating to see the variety of designs they come up with.

As I said earlier, this is just my technique; I try to encourage creativity but NOT giving them a specific design to copy. Some will go on to purchase kits and follow patterns, while others will just do their thing. I know some teachers who have ongoing classes where each person in the class quills the same design and the next time they meet they will quill another, this is a good way for quillers to stay in touch and helps maintain their interest. Somehow even though I have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else, I just don’t seem to have enough time to do much teaching anymore. Whichever approach you take, there are now lots of materials out there to aid in your teaching, certainly a lot more than when I first learned to quill! We have some really neat beginner kits and teacher packages here at which include papers, tools, designs, and some extras like shape charts, mat boards etc. I also show my beginner students my two favorite books “The Book of Paper Quilling” by Malinda Johnston (which is now out of print but available in libraries and probably on Amazon and “Paper Quilling for the first time” by Alli Bartkowski. Both have excellent tutorials, Malinda’s book has lots of neat projects from different quillers (including a couple of mine) and a really neat gallery, and Alli’s book goes into great detail on 14 different techniques and also includes some projects and a gallery. We always have both books in stock since they are two of my favorites. Another book which is actually like a starter kit is “Twirled Paper” by Jacqueline Lee. This book comes with a tool, a package of paper, and glue. It is chock full of really cute ideas for the younger set including bugs, animals and aliens. It is a great gift idea for a child who likes to work with his hands and a great way to get our next generation of quillers started.

Stay tuned for part 3 which will be wide quill paper and dimensional quilling.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Teaching/Learning Quilling Part # 1

Teaching Quilling-Part 1

This will be a four part series since there is way too much information to put in one post. There are many different approaches to teaching; I’m going to cover a few of them and would very much be interested in hearing from others who have taught. Lots of questions come up about teaching quilling, especially for first timers. Hopefully this will give you some “food for thought”.

Your approach may differ depending on whether you are teaching in your home, a community center, or a store. Time, space, and fees will all play a part in setting up a class plan. If you are teaching in your home, you will probably be supplying everything your students need to take a class. I usually included a package of mixed/multi colored 1/8” strips and a slotted tool in the cost of the class. I would ask my students to bring a small pair of sharp straight blade scissors and a pair of pointed tweezers from home. (I would always have extras on hand in case someone forgets to bring them) I didn’t require them to purchase a work board although I always had some of them on hand as well (especially since we sell all of the supplies), but for the class I would give each person a piece of Styrofoam covered with waxed paper, a damp paper towel, and a fine tipped glue bottle to use. (When I first started teaching we didn’t have those wonderful little bottles so I would squirt a little white glue on a piece of waxed paper and supply a toothpick; I definitely like the glue bottle better. Nobody gets their elbow stuck in the glue while reaching over for scissors etc.)

When I teach, I like to have a small group of 6-10 people. That way I can get them all around a couple of small tables and really give each person my undivided attention. Although, I have to tell you, I once taught a group of 20+ sorority members aged 23-83 years old. (One of them had seen quilling and decided they should all learn to make quilled favors for a national sorority reunion).This was done in a private home. None of the rooms were large enough to accommodate the whole group so tables were set up in two different rooms. Of course I had to do everything twice because the “students” in one room couldn’t see or hear what was going on in the other room. I spent the whole evening running back and forth between the two rooms. (too bad this was before roller blades and wheelies). The crazy part was when the two groups decided it was a competition and would try to see which group could complete the next step first. What a crazy night! That night I felt like I had run a marathon.

If you are teaching in a store, class fees may be determined by the store and usually the store wants the students to buy their supplies at the store. Of course we all know how rare it is to find a store that has a “good” selection of quilling supplies. It gets a little tricky when the store has only minimal supplies; you may find yourself providing supplies from your own private stash. The time factor also comes into play, I like having about three hours for a class, I was never allowed to use that much time in a store setting so I had to adjust my “lesson plan” accordingly. I generally run a series of three classes: Basic shapes/beginners, Wide quill/intermediate and Husking/alternate side looping wheatears/advanced. Stay tuned . . . my next post will be Part 2 –Basic shapes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Make Your Own Quilling Supplies Color Chart

Make your own color chart!

We get calls all the time from people who are trying to describe the color they are looking for. Sometimes they are current colors, sometimes they are colors that have been discontinued. We carry more than 200 colors here at Whimsiquills; we have at least 25 greens . . . so . . .it can be a little tough trying to figure out just which green our customer is looking for. To add to the confusion, some companies will call the colors by the names the paper mills give them, some rename them. Here is an example: some of Lake City’s Glistening papers are exactly the same colors as Paplin’s pearl colors. (P2164 Paplin Coral Pearl is the same as 426 Sunset glistening.) Let’s throw something else into the mix. We also sell papers from England; some of their names like Opal green, Oxford blue leave us clueless as to what the real color will be.

There are several solutions to this problem. We do offer our customers a color chart. This is a photo copy of actual strips, but is definitely not 100 percent accurate. But at least it will give you a pretty good idea of colors. Another possibility is sending a little snippet of the color you are trying to match; or the reverse, we can send you some samples. A great way to make your own color chart is to take a blank set of our order forms (or any one else’s) and start gluing small strips next to the color number, you will build your own very accurate color chart for future reference.

You do need to be aware that sometimes colors are changed because of manufacturer dye lots, and new colors are added and other colors discontinued. In some cases a color may be discontinued by one manufacturer but not by another. We have put together a chart which will tell you which colors can be substituted for different manufacturers. We are posting that list for your convenience.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

How to Store Quilling Strips/Papers/ & Prequills

How should I store my quilling strips?

This is a question that comes up frequently. When I first started quilling, I tried keeping my papers in a big box. I kept the unused portions in the plastic bags they came in. When I just started, I would buy multi packs, you know, lots of colors in one package. Unfortunately when I tried separating the colors, I often made a mess of the pack. I ended up with what looked like spaghetti! Once I started buying individual packages of colors, I decided to hang them. I bought a couple of bulletin boards, (about 2’x3’), and put T-pins along the long side of the board. (T-pins are the ones shaped like the letter “T”, they are nice and long and the “t” prevents the strips from sliding off. You can buy them wherever they sell straight pins.) It helped to keep the strips nice and straight. I put each of the different sizes of the same color on one pin. For example; if I had narrow, 1/8’ and 3/8” of the same color, they went on one pin. Once I had all of the strips hung, I could tell at a glance which colors I had and which I was running low on. The other thing I liked about this storage system was its portability. I could take my “bulletin board’ full of strips anywhere, in any room. When it was time to put it away, I would cover it with a trash bag and slide it behind the sofa or into a closet. I still keep my whites/ivories on a bulletin board since I use them so much.

Of course, you don’t use a whole strip for each quilled coil. There are always leftover pieces. I started keeping my leftover pieces and any extra coils in the little chests they sell in hardware stores. Once again I arranged them by color. This worked out well for me; if I needed just a couple of small pieces to make a flower for a gift card; I almost always had exactly what I needed in these drawers. I use a lot of 6”, 3”, and 1 ½” strips. These fit perfectly in the drawers which are just about six inches deep. I also use some punched flowers in my floral pieces, so any extra “punches” also get stored in these drawers.
Once my hobby became “Whimsiquills the business”, (and after my children left home), I set about making what we all call the ‘Whimsiquills room”. Now I have a whole room dedicated to my work I had a huge window put in to give me natural light, I use an Ott light at night. I hang all of my papers on a strip my husband put up for me that goes halfway around the room.
If you are lucky enough to have a work or craft room you can use the back of the door for storage as well. I have all of my 1/6’ and 1/8” Paplin papers stored on the back of the Whimsiquills room door and on a closet door. We simply put up some strips and then measure and put in nails so we could hang the packages. If you store your papers in packages, this might be an option for you. Then you also have the color number right on the package. I usually write the color number on the outside of one of the strips.

This is my not so neat work table which is right by a window, lots of natural day light.