Meet Pat

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Monday, May 11, 2009

About Me!

I was working on a couple of interviews with long time quillers Betty Christy and Malinda Johnston and I started thinking about how quilling had changed MY life. I have always been “crafty” and loved doing anything with my hands. I graduated from college with a degree in classical languages (Latin and Greek); my plan was to go on for a graduate degree and then teach. Like so many young women in the sixties, the expectation was to marry and have kids, rather than graduate school and jobs. I caved. When I moved to Connecticut in 1973, I was divorced with a two year old and a five year old and the love of my life. Ross had two children from his previous marriage, plus my two, and then we had our daughter. So we were kind of like the Brady bunch.

I started quilling in the early 1970”s. At that point I was a stay at home mom, heading up a child support advocacy group, and active in the local Junior Women’s Club and. Several of us learned to quill and made little place cards for a membership tea. I really liked quilling; I remember making quilled snowflakes for everyone in my family. I did some quilled borders and little flower arrangements on wooden plaques my husband made for me in his workroom. I had no idea just what could be done with quilling, like many quillers, I learned by buying books to learn and get ideas. Back then there were a lot of small family owned craft stores; most carried some quilling supplies and instruction booklets. I found multi-color paper packs by Mangelsen’s, kits by Quill Art (Barbara Maddox), and a really neat tool called the “Quill Quiky” by Hazel Pearson.

I bought a booklet called “Dimensional Quilling Instructions” (1974) put out by Mangelsen. The designer, Betty Nelson, stacked some of her quills to give additional depth. She had one design that combined quilled flowers, statice and small seashells. I loved that design and used something similar as a border on a lot of my early wedding pieces. I still have a much worn copy of Hazel Pearson’s “New Designs for Quilling” (1974) which included things like quilled borders, mushrooms. I learned to make spider mums and stacked zinnias from Hazel Pearson’s booklet “Classic Quills” (1977). I discovered you could make miniature flowers when I found Betty Christy and Doris Tracy’s booklet “Miniature Quilled Flowers” (1976). I made tiny flower pots full of flowers and then put them in pastel colored eggs, and gave them to my family at Easter time. I would gently tap a hole in the side of and egg and empty it (to make French toast or scrambled eggs), then I would cut an oval opening, wash and clean the egg shell. Once I had a group of shells I would dye them with food coloring. Talk about recycling!
(Remember this was long before Whimsiquills). One of my all time favorite booklets was “Wide Quill Flowers”, a Mangelsen’s publication by a woman named Ruth Freeman. I didn’t know you could make roses!!!! I bet I made every design that was in that booklet. I loved it! The very first real book I bought was one by Doris Tracy and Betty Christy. It was called “Quilling, Paper Art for Everyone”. I still have my original dog eared copy (actually my copy is more than dog eared, one of my puppies left some very distinctive teeth marks as he attempted to get it off my book shelf). This book has the most comprehensive history of quilling I have found anywhere: Two hundred pages of terrific information, lots of “how to’s” and pictures of finished pieces by many different quillers. I wish the pictures were in color but even in black and white they were fascinating. It wasn’t very long before people started asking me to make things for them.

In 1981, I decided to try and earn some money selling some of my work. I wrote to all of the companies listed in the back of Betty Christy’s book trying to find supplies. I made up a bunch of samples and started showing them at “home parties”, (kind of like Tupperware parties). I would go and do a demonstration so people would know what quilling was and how it was done and then show my samples and take orders. The hostess would get a credit (20% of the total party order) so she could order whatever she wanted. Then I would go home and quill like crazy to fill all of the orders. I called my new business Whimsiquills. Stay tuned for the next installment of this “saga”.

1 comment:

Kelly1595 said...


I am interested in learning how to quill and I inherited Hazel's Quilling Tool Set, Quill Quiky and Quill Designer. The instructions on how to use this tool are no longer with the tool set. Do you by chance have a copy of the instructions for this tool set? Or would you know how I might obtain a copy of these instructions? I would love any help/advise you could provide. Thank you for your consideration.

Kind Regards,

Kelly Cutler
PO BOX 1112
Rathdrum, ID 83858