A frequently asked question, especially from new quillers, concerns the differences in quilling strips. How are English strips different from American strips etc? Probably, the most obvious difference is in the length of the strips. In the 1970's, 24" was the standard length for quilling strips. That is no longer the case. Lake City papers are 24” long with the exception of their watercolors, which are 12". Paplin papers, another American paper, are generally 23" long, their graduated and two toned strips (which by the way are actually “printed”) are 12” long. Quilled Creations, another American company, strips are about 18" long; their graduated papers are about 12" long. English strips are about 17” long with graduated strips coming in at 12”. The English also have some wonderful novelty (specialty) papers such as graduated strips where the colors darkens as it goes up the strip, dark center strips which go from white to color to white again, two – toned papers which have different colors on each side of the papers, pearlized on edge papers, & holofoil and gilded edged papers which are absolutely beautiful. Not to be “outdone”, the American companies (Paplin and Lake City) have both come out with lines of pearlized and metallic papers, which have a pearlized or metallic finish on both sides of the strips. Paplin has some beautiful pastel pearlized colors, and both companies have some very rich “jewel toned” metallic’s, deep green, blue, and a deep wine color. I have used these papers for some very special effects. I recommend that you use tacky glue on these strips as they have a different finish (almost slippery) than standard strips.
Both papers (American & English) work well together although with today’s economy and with the difference between the dollar and the British pound the English strips are more expensive. We continue to bring in English colors that are not available here in the states. The weights of the different papers vary, some of the darker colors are a heavier weight (I have been told that the heavier weight has something to do with being able to take the darker dye, although the Paplin black is a nice easy weight to work with). Specialty papers, like parchment, tend to be a lighter weight. Some of the "quilling" paper sold in scrapbooking stores, (especially the tube paper sold as "quillstix") is very heavy, almost as heavy as cardstock. Unfortunately, some members of the scrapbooking community are saying this is the only weight that will hold up in a scrapbook. Those of us who have been quilling for a while know that this is not accurate. Regular quilling paper is incredibly strong when rolled and placed on edge. Since we carry so many different kinds of papers here at Whimsiquills, I have tried them all. I don't like working with the heavy "card stock" like papers, and find them difficult to finger roll without getting unwanted creases. If I have to roll a heavier paper, I generally use a tool to keep tension even.
All of the choices now available can cause some confusion for new quillers. I find that all of the papers can work pretty well together if you are just careful to measure the strips you cut from the different brands. For example: if you are using an English yellow for the center of a flower, but an American orchid for the petals, you will want to start out with the same length strips. If you are using a heavier weight paper for a flower center, you will either have to make the strip a little shorter to compensate for the larger size center, or perhaps make a couple of extra petals for your flower.
In some English kits and books, directions are given as using 1/4, 1/8 of a strip. Obviously, if you are using papers of different lengths, you will have to go back to the tried and true method of measuring out your strips. I hope this has answered some of the questions about the many papers available.
Here is an added note of interest for those of you who might be combining quilling with card making or scrapbooking. Paplin offer every one of its colors in 8 ½ x 11 sheets and will do special cuts ½”, or 1” strips to be used for punched flowers/leaves or borders. They also offer a line of color greeting cards which match some of their most popular colors.