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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