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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quilled Card Making Techniques Continued

Quilled Card Making Techniques Continued

I’ve toyed with the idea of trying some other techniques with my quilled cards. The first technique I tried was paper pricking (piercing). That’s when you prick out a design on the card with a pin (or a special pricking tool). The design can be pierced from the front or the back of the card or a combination of both. It’s really quite pretty and combines well with quilling especially if you use the pierced design as a border. I felt it was way too time consuming to use on a card; I used the technique to make some very pretty background piercing on handmade paper (which I bought, I did not make it). Then I quilled bouquets of flowers which I put on the background and framed. I have since discovered (well I didn’t really discover it, but I found out about it) a tool called the pounce wheel. This wonderful little gizmo will do a pricked border in a jiffy! You can’t use it for everything, although I did do a very nice scalloped border, but I use it to give a pricked edge on some of the papers I use for my cards.

I also bought a book on parchment craft . . . and parchment . . . and tools. However after sitting down and looking at the book, I decided I was not ready for parchment. It seemed very involved and rather complicated. What I have found though, is a book called The All New Compendium of Cardmaking Techniques by Search Press. It came up when I was doing a search for new quilling books. It has a 27 page section on quilling; the designs are some of the ones found in Diane Crane’s Quilled Greeting Cards. What it does have is very basic information for a number of other techniques. “Thread Cards” their term for paper embroidery is just one of them. While I might not want to make a whole thread card, that might be an interesting technique to use for the vase of quilled flowers. I always have to think about what design to use for a vase; making a “threaded vase” might give a whole different look and texture to a piece. It would be pretty small if I were making it for a card but might look pretty neat in a framed piece as well. Hmm . . . There is a section on watercolor cards, which I almost skipped right over . . . I don’t enjoy painting anything, furniture, walls, NOTHING! But . . . there is an interesting section on creating a wash for a background and getting some really neat looks using spattering and salt, of all things! The “Quick Parchment Cards” section has made me rethink the whole parchment thing, especially when I saw some of the border designs and saw it used on color cards. When I got to the silk flower section, I just substituted quilled flowers in my mind. The section on beaded cards combined paper pricking and lace. I am not trying to read the whole book to you but it does have some good basic information so if you are interested in trying any of these techniques, I think it is a pretty good starting point. I have a whole bunch of small quilled pieces that I had made for the 2009 Accord calendar and of course that project got scrapped. So I think I will take a look at them again and look through my books and maybe I can really dress them up. I don’t usually send cards out for Halloween, but some of the designs are really cute Halloween designs, so maybe I will just surprise my family with Halloween cards this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Glues & Fixatives Part # 2

Glues & Fixatives – Part 2

Here comes the part about fixatives/sealers etc. Just like with the glue, everyone has an opinion or favorite. Here we will be discussing my favorites and some of my “not so favorites”. I think most new quillers worry about how to “preserve” their work. Of course paper filigree is more fragile than metal filigree, but it is surprisingly strong especially when rolled and glued on edge. I don’t use a sealer or fixative on anything but pieces that are free standing or are not protected by glass. I don’t use anything on pieces I put on scrapbook pages or greeting cards, paper is much stronger than most people realize. I have one of the very first pieces I made, a Sunbonnet Sue, which I made to hang in my daughter’s bedroom. It is done on a wood plaque, it has not been sprayed or coated with anything and is not under glass. It still hangs in my studio 34 years later and still looks the same, (except for the dust).

One of the very first quilling books I bought was written in 1974. It was called “Quilling Paper Art for Everyone” by Betty Christy and Doris Tracy. It contained a wealth of knowledge, (no color pictures), and I still like to leaf through it now and then. It’s a little dog eared, especially since one of my dogs chewed the corners when he was a puppy, but it was the first quilling book I bought and it still has a special place in my quilling library. (Partially because I have met Betty Christy, and spent time with her at several quilling conferences. She is quite a character.) However, this book recommends spraying your finished pieces with a clear plastic or acrylic spray. I have tried many different sprays over the years, and found that even the ones that say non-yellowing have a tendency to yellow the papers especially on white snowflakes. Some quillers recommend coating the pieces with a thinned mixture of white glue, I find that when the glue dries it leaves a shine, making the paper look almost like plastic. If I take all the time necessary to make those little rolls and coils, I’ll be darned if I want it to look like plastic. I’ve also heard of quillers who use, lacquer, varnish, and even nail polish! YUK!! Still plastic looking not to mention the smell! But of course, that’s just my opinion.

The first product I found that I really liked was a product called Petal Porcelain put out by Plaid. I have no idea why I tried it, maybe because it said the finished look was like porcelain (which beats plastic in my book). This came in a little jar, was quite thick; it had to be applied with a brush and it was PINK! But . . . it dried to clear bisque like finish and it did not change the look of the paper at all! I used it a lot when I was making and selling quilled earrings (about a hundred years ago) and it worked really well! It protected the paper from the oils of fingers and even survived my accidentally dropping an earring in the glass of water I used to clean my brush. The downside was that it was thick and if you were coating a large piece it took a long time.

When I made the quilled tea cup and saucer I knew I needed to find something that I didn’t have to brush on or the coating would take as long as the quilling. That’s when I found Stiffen Stuff by Beacon products. It was originally intended for stiffening ribbons (you know like the kinds you put on baskets etc.) I tried it out on something other than my first tea cup and was very pleased with the results. Because it is sprayed on, it is quite wet, so several very light coats are recommended letting it dry between coats. It dries pretty quickly, but if you are in a real hurry you can use a hair dryer on low. Also, I learned that you really need to rinse off the spray top of the bottle after each use or the Stiffen Stuff will clog the spray hole. For several years, this was the only product of this type I could find although now there are several other brands available. The problem seems to be finding it. When I first purchased it, I found it a Wal-Mart and have since seen it at Michaels. But a number of Whimsiquills customers have told me that it is not available in their Michaels or Wal-Mart’s, so we have brought it in as an item on the Whimsiquills web site in case you want to try it but are unable to find it.

PS I have an interesting little anecdote which kind of relates to flowers looking like plastic, porcelain etc. I had a young woman come to the Whimsiquills studio to choose a design for a wedding gift she was giving to a very special teacher/mentor. She came with her mom, and we spent considerable time picking out colors, style of quilling, and which flowers were to go in the finished piece. When they were ready to leave and were walking down the hall, where I have many quilled pieces displayed, her mother turned around and asked me, “but where do you BUY these flowers?” Needless to say, I turned them right around and gave them a little impromptu demonstration!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Glues & Fixatives with Quilling

Glues and Fixatives

As those of you who follow this blog know, I have been quilling for 30+ years, actually it is almost 35 years. Two of the questions that keep popping up are about what kind of glue should be used and does the finished piece need some kind of fixative to preserve it. Let me start with the glue.

Glue can be a sticky subject (just kidding); everybody has an opinion and/or a favorite; this is my opinion. In general terms, white glue that dries clear, is water soluble for easy cleanup, and one that is non toxic and has no fumes is preferred. Since every coil you make will either have to be glued shut, glued to a surface or another coil you want to be working with a product that is safe and easy to use. Having said that, one of the most important things to know is that “less is best” when it comes to gluing your work. Even though the glue will dry clear, that doesn’t necessarily make it invisible. If you are using excessive amounts of glue, it WILL show either as a shine or as a shiny glob, clear but obvious. When I started quilling, I used white glue put out by Leewards, it was inexpensive, it didn’t smell, and it dried clear . . . then I actually had a bottle go bad and turn an ugly brown color (I have no idea who the actual manufacturer was). Then I tried Elmer’s and Sobo. I didn’t like the Elmer’s, I felt it was too “watery” and it took too long to hold. I was more satisfied with the Sobo. One year I decided to put my quilling on glass Christmas balls, what a joy that was! I had quilling sliding down the sides of the round balls, YUK!! That’s when I tried Aleene’s Tacky Glue which solved my “sliding” problem. Before long, I was using the tacky glue for all of my quilling; I guess I am just not patient enough to wait for a thinner glue to “set”. Recently, we started carrying pearlized and metallic finished papers here at Whimsiquills and my impatience reared its ugly head again. I hate to glue a coil shut and have it “pop” open the minute I set it down. I especially hate it if I am placing it directly on a mat (which is my usual way of working), if it moves, it leaves a smear which is really tough to remove. So . . . . Now, I am trying Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue. I don’t like it for everything, but it does work well on those shiny coated papers.

How do I apply the glue? When I first started quilling I would put a little blob of glue on a piece of waxed paper and apply it with a toothpick. That works pretty well, but you do get a buildup of glue on the toothpick so it needs to be cleaned frequently; the glue on the wax paper starts to dry out and needs to be replenished. Boy was I thrilled when I tried my first fine tipped glue bottle! The first ones I bought were from England; it took me a long time to find a company that manufactured them here, but I have been sold on them ever since. We usually send our bottles out with two tips, one finer than the other so they work well with thick or thin glues. The glue bottles give so much more control when applying glue to those tiny pieces of paper we are so fond of. But there are times when the glue bottle might not be your best option. If you do your work on a work board and then transfer it to a mat or other surface, you may find you need to dip your pieces into the glue. What I find works best for me is to spread out a thin coating of glue on an easily cleaned surface like a plastic lid from a yogurt container or a “Glue Spot” (I’ll explain about them in a minute). Then pick up the quilled piece with your tweezers (I used a bent nose tweezers) and very gently let the bottom edges of your piece touch the spread out glue. If you get too much glue on the piece, tap off the excess by placing it on another piece of plastic and then lifting it off. The excess glue will stay on the plastic and you can place your piece on your mat. This is the method I always use when placing flower stems on a piece.

To get back to the “glue Spot”; this is a nifty little item patented by my friend and fellow quiller Molly Smith (She is the author of “The New Paper Quilling” ). She gave me one at our NAQG quilling conference and I have been using it ever since. It has a great plastic like finish that you can spread your glue on. After you are done working you just peel off the dried glue remnants and toss them. We will be carrying them at Whimsiquills, keep watching the NEW page on the web site. Next topic Fixatives (there was a lot more to say about glue than I thought) so long for now. (If there are any errors in this blog, it’s not my fault. I had to take 75 mg of Benedryl in order to keep breathing today!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quilled Greeting Cards & More

Quilled Greeting Cards & More

Handmade greeting cards have been very popular "across the pond" in England for a long time, and now they seem to be growing in popularity here in the United States. Let's face it . . . the cost of cards, like everything else, continues to rise. With gas prices out of site, and in a few months, those of us who live in colder climates will be dealing with the outrageous cost of heating oil, I don't think there is going to be a lot of extra money for $5-7 greeting cards or much of anything extra. In my last post, I wrote a little about quilled greeting cards; I thought it would be a good idea to expand on the topic.

I have just received an advanced copy of Alli Bartkowski's new book 50 Nifty Quilled Cards. I don't know about you, but I always enjoy looking through books because they stimulate me and give me ideas about what I would like to try. Coming up with ideas for fifty cards can't be easy, but Alli managed to do it. The quilling is relatively simple, but is dressed up by stacking different papers together to make the background for the quilling. For example: one of her cards used embossed vellum over plain card stock, a pearl on each of the 4 corners and a ribbon tied around the whole thing. Where was the quilling? A circle was cut out of the vellum with the cardstock showing through. Alli made two tiny birds (using a shaped teardrop for the head, and a larger shaped teardrop for the body) that look like they are "kissing" beak to beak; and above them two tiny teardrops make a heart. It's adorable! And easy! She has also added things like bits of ribbon, decorative embellishments like buttons and charms, decorative papers and gems. There are cards for holidays (I love her tiny angels) and for any occasion you can think of. It's a fun book and should be available in September.

Another fun book about card making is Marie Browning's New Concepts in Paper Quilling. In this book Browning actually shows you how to make the card blanks, liners, and envelopes. I generally stick with the card blanks we sell, we have white cards with rectangular, oval or heart shaped windows; we now have color cards and envelopes which are fun to work with as well. When using the window cards, I usually use a contrasting paper behind the cutouts and then place my quilling inside the cutouts.. I enjoy making cards using various border punches and quilling strips, but am intrigued by some of the ideas in this book as well. I like the look of the cards when different papers are stacked or layered. The cards in this book are quite elaborate although the quilling itself is not too difficult. The theme for the card is also carried over to the envelope which is another nice touch to the cards in this book. Some of these cards are almost too pretty to be cards and would certainly be appropriate for framing.

Of course, you might not want to send quilled cards to everyone on your greeting card list, so in my next post I will be discussing some other ideas for handmade cards. Then again, you might have people on your card list who wouldn't appreciate a handmade card. When I taught a workshop on dressing up your quilled cards at North American Quilling Guild Conference in Rhode Island, we had quite a discussion about who should get the fruits of our labor. One of the quillers said she would never send her sister a quilled card because she knew it would just get tossed; other quillers agreed that that sister didn't deserve a handmade card. I made my mother a set of quilled note cards several years ago because she always enjoyed getting my notes. When I visit her, they are still sitting on her desk, she wouldn't dream of writing on them and sending them off to someone else. I guess Moms are just like that. Here are a few other books to look at when making cards with quilling: Whimsiquills Book Review PageB171 Greeting Card DesignsB173 Quilling for Scrapbooks & CardsB5988 Quilling for CardsB352554 Card Making Techniques