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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.