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 Whimsiquills.com 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.