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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quilling with Jinny Alexander - I am happy

I’m happy to say that I know this quiller personally. Jinny Alexander is a neat lady who is one of the original members of the group who ended up forming the North American Quilling Guild. Jinny lives in Rochester, New York; she was going to be in Connecticut visiting her son. She called and asked if we could meet. We had a wonderful visit . . . she was fascinated with my roses and I was awed by her little quilled figures, which she calls Jinisans. She gave me a delightful little clown which still has a place of honor in my studio. Over the years I have seen a great deal of quilling and many 3-D “figures”; none can compare with the work and detail Jinny puts into her Jinisans. I am happy to share pictures of some of her work. We do carry her book Quilling in the Third Dimension here at Whimsiquills. Here is her story in her own words.

All of my life I have been interested in doing something "artistic" with my hands. From drawing to painting, knitting and crocheting, sewing, and then along came quilling. It seemed like all of the things I had done before, including my training as a nurse and secretary, could be used in some way in this "new" art form. Going through a craft section in a store, sometime in about 1976, I came across a quilling kit. The kit had materials and directions to make 3-dimensional figures. I took the kit home and made a soldier, a Raggedy Ann, and a clown. I put them on top of presents that I gave to my friends. They began to ask me if I would make another for their "mothers, aunts, sisters, or friends." I was glad to do it to begin with, but had so many requests that I began to charge $5 for each figure and the requests didn't stop.

It was when I had a request for a "Pierrot" clown that I decided the figures should have legs. After putting legs on this clown, I decided that he should carry a rose and that his arm should therefore be bent, and his hands should be made to enfold the stem of the rose. I changed the way I felt the figure should look. Adding the legs and bending the arm gave it some "motion" and made it seem more realistic and personal to me.

I soon began to try to make more interesting figures and to make them more "real" looking. Santa Claus and the Wizard of Oz figures were among some of the first I tried. After many years of making the 3-D figures. I began to think that what I had discovered by trial and error should be described in a book, so others could make them. Following this publication, there were requests for specific directions for specific figures, so we decided to try to publish another book with instructions and pictures of the different "Jinisans" ( Jinny's people) I had previously made. That second England for the International Quilling Meeting in 1992, I was amazed to see all the different ways quilling could be used. My entries (awarded 3rd place) in the competition there were quite unique and at the next International Meeting in 1997, there seemed to be more 3-D figures. It was there that I met other quillers from the USA. What a wonderful group of people! We have shown each other so much interest and friendship, and at each meeting we have learned from each other. These meetings led us to believe that we should have a quilling guild here in America. From this came the idea that led to the NAQG.
I have taught quilling to adult education classes in the high school and the Rochester Museum and Science Center, as well as a few classes to middle school children. We currently have a local group with 14 members!
For the first presentation to our local historical society, I did extensive research in the origins, proliferation and characteristics of paper and included that information in my classes and lectures. Much of this information was found in our central public library. We took a trip to New England to see the quilling in the museums there. We were able to take pictures and make slides then used in my presentations.


I'm Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I'm Toni said...

(Previous comment deleted for spelling errors!) Enjoyed reading this post - it's so interesting to read about other quillers, their techniques, and how they got started. Thanks for sharing this story about Jinnysans! Toni Jarvis (fellow NAQG member)

judy said...

I have known Jinny Alexander for over 20 years. Yes she is a very special lady and a wonderful quiller. I am a weaver and our love of the arts along with a mutual friend brought us together when I lived in Rochester, NY. I own several of Jinny's Jinisans and am amazed at the intricacy of each piece. They are as special as Jinny is. If you have a chance to take a workshop with her, go for it. You will be happy you met this wonderful lady and had a chance to learn from her.


Jeff said...

I am one of Jinny Alexanders lucky kids. (by the way... there are no unlucky ones...) All bias aside, her work is so remarkable and unique that spending time at the various craft shows she has attended over the years has been my pleasure. I hope others with her "patience for detail" will be inspired by her work. Most peoples patience (including mine)can't cut it!

Gina said...

I have known Jinny Alexander(or as I call her, Gramma) for 28 years. She is a constant source of inspiration and fun. Her jinisans are wonderful, I especially especially love her kachinas and wizard of oz series. She never stops learning and is always interested to try something new. I agree with my Uncle Jeff, her patience is enviable!

Barbara said...

As a graphic designer, I aspire to be the artist that my mom is. Her eye for beauty and detail coupled with her sense of fun and adventure make her work very special indeed.

Many people don't realize that she is entirely self-taught and that the techniques she has developed over the years are her own invention. Her Jinnisans are like nothing else in the world. And each of them has a spark of wit and personality that makes them seem to come alive. It is such fun to see a crowd of them congregating all together on a shelf or table.

Here's to you my creative mother (in more ways than one...she has 4 children) and dearest friend!

Lynne VanArsdale said...

Mom is so great at making the extraordinary available to many (yes, I'm child #3, putting great pressure on Dave to chime in...sorry Dave!). Her love for the creative combined with a passion to bring people together for creation gives such great joy to many. Out of all her work and teaching, so many people have wonderful rememberances of their love for one another. She inspires many to go beyond what they see, to new and better ways of doing things. Her Jinnysans are a great example of that. Love you, Mom!

Lindsey said...

I'm very happy to say that I am one of jinny's many grandchildren. I have always admired her art of quilling and her jinisans . She has an amazing talent and I have always wondered how she could have the patience!! These jinisans are very intricate and very time consuming I'm sure, yet she has created so many and everyone of them unique and beautiful in it's own way. I am very proud to have her as my grandmother and my friend. I have always thought of my Grandma as a big kid and these jinisans are proof that she's still a kid inside no matter what her age may be. I love her very much and respect everything about her and admire her talents tremendously!! If you havent had a chance to meet her or her creations I suggest you do so, you won't be dissapointed I can assure you of that!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am 10 years old and I have been quilling since I was 6. I have never seen anything amazing as these! I have seen some of your other quillings and you are definitely one of my favorite quillers!