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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quilling is it Art or Craft?

Quilling: Art or Craft
Many quillers struggle with the question as to whether quilling is an art or craft. My personal opinion is that it depends on the quiller and who the quiller is discussing the subject with. It has been my experience that many art "shows' don't have a quilling category simply because they have no idea what quilling is. How can they make a judgment that quilling is not an art when they really don't know anything about it? Sure quilling supplies may be purchased at craft stores, but oil paints and brushes are sold a craft stores as well; does that make oil painting a craft? I have seen quilling that is undoubtedly "art", in fact, a couple of pieces of my work are presently on tour with Exhibits USA, an art museum that puts together traveling exhibits. I have also seen quilling that would only fit into the "craft" category. To further illustrate my point: my painting ability could never be considered anything other than a "hobby/craft" and could never be mistaken for art, but that doesn't mean all painting would fall into that category; there are many outstanding artists who use paint as their medium and their work would never be considered anything but art. It definitely poses an interesting question. I recently read a post by Niki Abbott, a NAQG (North American Quilling Guild) member who was asked the same question, and with Niki's permission, I am reprinting her words and thoughts for your perusal. We would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic. Niki is a Canadian quiller who also sells quilling supplies Blueberry Lane Quilling I have included this link for the convenience of our Canadian quillers. She also writes a blog

Quilling - Hobby or Art? By Niki Abbott

Recently I was challenged with the question of whether quilling was an art or just a hobby craft. To be honest, I had not really considered it until now; I assumed anything a person made through their own innate creativity was art. I had quite a bit of difficulty answering this question, and I'm not entirely sure I've done so even now; but I have managed to dig up enough information to shed a bit of light on the subject.You can ask any serious quiller whether they believe their work is an art or a craft, and they will tell you that they wholeheartedly consider their work to be art - myself included.Unfortunately, quilling is considered a hobby craft in the art world, like scrapbooking and wood burning. This is because it is most commonly associated with scrapbooking and paper crafting.From an art critique's approach, although a quilling pattern may be original, the techniques and materials used nowadays are not. And in respect to that point of view, there is no real transformation of materials or unique signature of the person who created it. To put it bluntly, any two people can go out and purchase the same or similar materials, use the same pattern and produce nearly identical pieces. And that's why quilling falls through the cracks in the art gallery floor, so to speak.I know this point of view is highly argumentative, and I want to reassure you that I do not share this opinion on quilling - I believe each piece is unique in its own way and that quilling is an art form, albeit a lost one.I posed the question to the members of NAQG (North American Quilling Guild) and received some great responses and insight. I also contacted Mary Walker, a professional quiller in British Columbia, Canada, who had managed to convince her local art community to recognize quillwork as a true art form. She currently has many pieces on display in art galleries across Canada. According to Ms. Walker, who has done extensive research in her quest to revive the artistic side of quilling, it did actually start out as a craft. The common shapes used in quilling, marquises, pegs, teardrops, etc. are Egyptian in origin. Thirteenth century quilling extended from this craft, as Italian nuns began to create them with paper on a quill.Two centuries later, the nuns were melting silver or gold and covering the exposed surfaces of the paper, softening the edges. At this point in history, a name was chosen for this pastime and 'quilling' became recognized as an art. This was because by artists' own definitions, when you add a precious or semi precious metal to anything, you have created an art form.So, unless you soften the edges of your quillwork with gold or silver, it falls under the craft category. But if melting your own gold and silver is not an option for you, there is also a special paper available at quilling supply shops which already has the edges softened, thus giving the finish you need.Once you work is gilded, then and only then are you actually quilling - and creating art.

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