Meet Pat

Video (Meet Pat) -

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quilling with Molly Smith

I have the pleasure of knowing Molly Smith. Some of you may know her too if you have purchased her book The New Paper Quilling or you may have met her at one of the North American Quilling Guild conferences. Last year, at the conference in Rhode Island, Molly worked with me when we gave workshops on quilling and cardmaking. Molly is the one who created the Whimsiquills Glue Spot, one of my favorite items. To get back to the “glue Spot”; this is a nifty little item patented by my friend and fellow quiller Molly Smith. 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. Molly is a wonderful person; I am sure you will enjoy reading her quilling story.

“In 1980, I was attending therapy sessions after my sister's sudden death. It was suggested by the therapist that I find a new craft to work on. I went to several stores but wasn't interested in anything I saw. As I was leaving a Ben Franklin Store, I looked down and saw a small quilling kit in the parking lot. It was priced slightly more than a $1 and contained background paper, wood frame, paper strips, instruction sheet, pattern, glue and a hatpin. I gave it a try, loved to quill and was hooked immediately. I taught myself using the corsage pin included in the kit. I practiced with strips of spiral notebook paper I cut with scissors. I enjoyed quilling so much, I started purchasing the large, more difficult kits that took weeks to finish.”

I always ask my interview subjects if they were always “artistically inclined” or if they had training in the arts; here is Molly’s answer:” My favorites have varied over the years My background was watching and learning as my mother did every craft imaginable. She taught me to do it all correctly too-- once, she made me rip out a crocheted blanket, until I got to my mistake, and start all over. My lifetime career was in the paralegal field . . . I first made gifts for co-workers, and in 1981, was featured in the newspaper for having a unique craft. There was a period of time when I quilled flower arrangements and put them in small open shadow box frames for selling at my parent's RV rallies. They were the perfect size to hang in a RV. I thought I could sell enough to buy a car! I didn't become interested in quilling as a business (or become obsessed with it) until 2000, twenty years after I began.

Currently, my favorite quilling is anything miniature-- watches, plant pots and flowers. My second favorite is making large, gigantic pieces of art using one-inch or wider strips glued end-to-end and crimped. A ten-inch snowflake was published in an online ezine (online magazine) in 2008. I like to go from one extreme to the other, and quill traditional designs on cards or do wedding invites in between.

I get new ideas from trend research and keeping track with what is new at the craft and hobby industry shows. I also keep a journal and jot down inspirational colors or ideas as I see or think of them. Magazines are good reference also. I keep a file of interesting tearsheets of color combinations from magazines in a folder, and save pictures from the Internet on my computer.

Stay tuned for part two, next week. Molly gives some valuable information about getting your work “out there” in magazines etc. To see more of Molly's Work click here and click on the gallery link.
The quilled cherries shown here are 16" long and were done for a CHA display. The giant flowers above are done with wide strips (1 wide) which are crimped. Molly says the crimping actually strengthen the paper so you an make oversize flowers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quilling and the Economy

You can’t turn on the television or pick up the newspaper, without getting barraged with talk about the economy. It amazes me that while us “little folk” have to work everyday to pay our bills while so many CEO’s are mismanaging their companies and then expect us “little folk “ to bail them out. It trickles down to all of us in one way or another. I have had a number of customers who are getting back into quilling to help pass the time while they are laid off from work; others who have said they plan to start selling some of their work to supplement their income; we even had a customer ask if we were going to stay in business! (I certainly plan to!)

I usually follow the discussions on the Yahoo quilling groups, (at the very least I skim over them), and there has been a lot of talk about pricing finished work and what sells at craft shows etc. Those of us, who quill, know how labor intensive it is; unfortunately the general public does not. So the question that always arises is “How do I get paid for the time I put in on my work?” My personal experience selling at craft shows (granted, this was many years ago, but I don’t think it has changed that much), was good for getting exposure and developing a customer list, but I found most shoppers were looking for bargains. It is hard to compete in that kind of market, especially if there are also tables of “imported” handcrafts throughout the show. In this economy, you will also get a lot of “shoppers” who are really just browsing to pass the time. But there are still many people who have jobs, who are not struggling, and who are still shopping. Perhaps we (quillers) need to be looking at some different venues.

I was out with my sister recently, (which is unusual, since I am almost always here working at Whimsiquills), and we stopped in a little shop that sold stationery, cards etc. I’m sure the name of the shop had something to do with paper, but I can’t for the life of me, remember what it was. There was actually a mannequin in the window who was “dressed” in a paper outfit made from wrapping paper. At any rate, because it said paper, I went in to browse. There were all kinds of neat paper items . . . calendars, bookmarks, and lots and lots of cards. Not the usual Hallmark cards, but cards made from handmade papers, watercolors, a cute line of cards (pardon the pun) that had little clothes lines across the front with baby clothes hanging up, very clever . . . and very expensive. I got to thinking about it and wondered why there were no quilled cards.

It is just a thought, but maybe some of you who are looking for an outlet for your work, should visit some of the more upscale shops. I have seen some beautiful cards (many that would be suitable for framing) and quilled bookmarks that I am sure would sell in these kinds of shops. I would suggest keeping the actual quilling fairly simple, but dressing up the card with pretty papers/borders to make the quilling stand out. I noticed that most of the cardstock was white in the shop I visited, perhaps using the colored cards and envelopes that are now available would make them stand out a little more. I would suggest leaving the inside blank, that way flowers or hearts could be used for birthdays, engagements, or weddings etc. They could be packaged in those crisp, clear cellophane envelopes that seal. The clear envelopes will protect the quilling in the shop and not detract from it. Another possibility would be approaching upscale gift shops and/or frame shops. Perhaps some small framed pieces that could be sold as gifts to the “upscale” customers who shop there

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Lane with Pat & Quilling

One night recently, I took a walk down Memory Lane. I was actually looking for an article in one of the older issues of Quill America. (Quill America is the newsletter of the North American Quilling Guild). I am one of those people who keep everything in binders. I have a binder of things I would like to do someday, I have a binder with nothing but exercise articles in it, one for all of the old Lake City gazette newsletters, one for each of the quilling calendars I worked on etc. As I went through the binders I found two that were filled with pictures of quilling. I had forgotten all about them; they were pictures that quillers had sent to me years ago. Long before the North American Quilling Guild became official (that was in 2000), I used to write Quill America, which at that time was more of a letter than a newsletter. As more of us began to find each other, people started sending me pictures of their work . . . now you have to remember this was before computers became as common as toasters and before we knew about the internet. I put these pictures in binders (naturally!). It was kind of neat, people would just send me pictures with a little note telling me who they were, maybe how long they had been quilling. (I actually have a binder with the notes and letters in it, arranged alphabetically!) But I was the only one who got to see the pictures. So in my newsy letter I offered to send the binders out to anyone who wanted to look at them. I would pay the postage to send it to them and they would pay the postage to send the binders on to the next person who wanted to see them. Those binders traveled around the country for several years until they got so heavy that postage became an issue. As I looked through the pictures I couldn’t help but wonder at all of the people quilling has brought me in contact with (I know, I ended the sentence with a preposition!) In those days it took more effort to reach out to each other, it wasn’t as easy as attaching a file and hitting “send”. It meant taking a photo, getting it developed, writing a note or letter and mailing the whole thing. Now, I can go onto the internet and see hundreds of pictures of other quillers’ work. Reaching out to them is as easy as tapping a few keys on the computer. Maybe because it is so easy to email today, that when I do get one of those special letters it means even more. When Sister Consolata took the time to “type” me a letter (on a typewriter), I was very moved and even did a blog about her. Sister Consolata and Quilling She told me about a little boy she was teaching to quill so I sent her some cards and a quilling calendar for the little boy. He sent me the sweetest thank you card. Just this past week, I received another letter from an 85 year old quiller, who had given up quilling for a number of years and was just getting back into it. She said she had enjoyed visiting the Whimsiquills web site and she was amazed at all of the neat things we have now that were not available when she was quilling 30 years ago. She wrote, ”I have to say that my hands aren’t quite as dexterous as they used to be and it takes a little longer for the instructions to soak in, but I intend to once again master this wonderful, beautiful craft as much as I can.” She closed her letter with “Thank you so much for helping me find quilling again”. It is an interesting journey that we are taking, and it never ceases to amaze me how important a role the technology of computers and the internet are playing in the resurgence of interest in the art of quilling. But it is the people that I have met and spoken with over the last 30+ years that have made this journey so special!

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.