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Friday, May 29, 2009

Quilling with Delphene

Whenever I get some downtime, I enjoy seeking out other quillers on the net. It is always fun to see what others are doing with their quilling skills, often I am pleasantly surprised. Actually, Delphene, who is Dutch and French, found me! She emailed me and told me how much she enjoyed the Whimsiquills site, and told me a little bit about herself. When I saw Delphene’s web site, which is in French, Dutch and English, I contacted her and asked her if I could feature her on my blog. As it turned out, she was moving to Orlando, FL so I sent her information about the NAQGCON (North American Quilling Guild Conference), and she was able to attend. She asked me to wait until after the conference to publish her “interview” because she planned on showing her quilled lingerie, (yes, you read that right!), at the conference. We have put a few pictures of her work here in the blog, but be sure to take a few minutes to visit her site; she has some really neat work to share with you. Here is a link because English is a second language, Delphene has given me permission to do some editing, but most of her story is in her own words.

“I started quilling at the age of 8 or 10. My sister had won a craft kit at a Saint Nicholas (November 5th) feast given by the Dutch embassy in Paris. This kit included a simple quilling pattern with a few strips of paper, since she took no interest in it, I finally made it. It was flowers with a bird. Though it looks quite awful, I really enjoyed making it and was proud of it at that time. I always kept it as a reminder, but it is somewhere in a box in France and I don't have a picture of it to show you.

Anyway, from that moment, I never stopped quilling. I was lucky to have an aunt in the Netherlands who was loved crafts (she even worked later in a craft shop) and though she never enjoyed quilling herself, she helped me purchase the paper strips and my first books (I was also lucky that quilling was in at the moment in the Netherlands, because it is now almost impossible to find any quilling supplies and there was no internet then). In the first years I mostly made cards for birthdays, Christmas... following the patterns. When I mastered the basic shapes, the flowers.... I made bigger patterns still following the books. I actually made all the patterns from Malinda Johnson book: Decoratief Papierfiligraan (in Dutch): the panda, the alphabets... which is my very favorite book.

At that time, I had less time with my study and my job, and became bored by the book patterns. So when I had more time during a holiday, 5 years ago maybe, I made my first personal designs. From that moment I kept receiving orders from friends and family, since I told them that you can do everything in quilling, and it is always a new challenge. I also sold a few of my creations in a shop in Paris owned by a guy who made the most amazing origami lamps I've ever seen. Since he had to close the shop (he's now selling on internet) and I was to move to the US anyway I had the idea to create my website: in English and Dutch to make contact with other quillers, in French to promote quilling in France where it is completely unknown. I never took pictures of my creations before I started selling them. And when I created my website I have been asking around for pictures of the quilling I have given away, and most of them are now in my picture gallery, there are just a few creations missing.

I make flowers and frames when I am asked for them, but they are not my favorite (I might have made too many of them earlier!). I enjoy making designs who are the main object of decoration. I tried modern techniques like 3D and husking, but I have a preference for traditional quilling. I use almost no tools, and I coil the strips with my fingers; I used to work with 3 mm strips, but I now often use smaller ones.

I like using the traditional basic shapes in a new context. I particularly enjoyed making the umbrella, and I am currently making lampshades in the same way. I also like making fantastic animals, working on the shapes and colors, the eye expressions. My lingerie designs have a huge success, and I intend to make a whole collection. I have a lot of other projects, and my problem is not a lack of inspiration but a lack of time!!

After high school I studied law, and worked as a student in kitchens. After a few years I decided to turn myself to bakery and pastry; Though I do love my job as a pastry cook, I really envy you for being able to quill full time; and I would love to teach quilling because the persons I tried to interest in it never had the required patience for quilling! . I will love to have some feedback from anyone who visits my site.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quilling with Malinda Johnston

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, I wrote to Malinda Johnston to introduce myself to her as the American representative of the English Quilling Guild, back in 1990. I had no idea, at the time, I was writing to THE Malinda Johnston. For those of you who don’t know Malinda, she is the founder and former owner of Lake City Crafts. We “visit” (that’s Malinda’s term) on the phone every once in a while to catch up on mutual quilling friends. I asked Malinda how she had gotten started. She told me she bought a quilling kit at a local craft store, she enjoyed doing the kit and went back to the store and “volunteered” to teach quilling . . . the first step in a long journey. Malinda said once you learn to make the basic shapes, the rest is easy! She started making patterns and little kits for her students in the craft store, and then in 1974, she took a really big step and launched Lake City Crafts. She started her company with her first instructional book, Gallery of Quilling, and “that year, she expanded her line to include four kits, and quickly added six more kits and 18 colors of paper”. The quote is from the 20th anniversary edition of the Lake City Gazette. In many ways the Lake City Gazette was responsible for American quillers organizing and eventually becoming the North American Quilling Guild. It was her newsletter that let us lonely American quillers know there was a quilling guild and that there were other American quillers!

For a long time Lake City Crafts was almost the only game in town. Once Barbara Maddox’ Quill Art was sold and Hazel Pearson just seemed to disappear there were only a few places to buy quilling papers and they were all mail order. When I say mail order, I mean MAIL ORDER!! There was no internet, so the only option was to write or call for a catalogue and wait. As I said earlier, once we American quillers ‘found’ each other, there was no stopping us . . . and Malinda was there every step of the way. When a small group of American quillers decided to go to England for the first International Festival of Quilling, Malinda was in attendance. When that group decided to have a “reunion” meeting in New Jersey the following June, she was there. That’s when I first met her face to face. Malinda is a delightful person and totally down to earth. I remember when she was working on her book “The Book of Paper Quilling” (published in 1994), she said it was kind of like having a baby; it took so long! I was honored that she asked me to submit some of my designs for her book. It was the first of its kind, lots of tutorials, instructions and patterns for more than 50 projects, and designs submitted by thirteen different quillers. There was little bit of everything. For years, many quillers have regarded this book as the quiller’s bible. Her second book “The Weekend Crafter Paper Quilling” was similar, with lots of projects by many different quillers. Over the years, she has been my mentor and has played a major role in the resurgence of quilling, and now is enjoying a well deserved retirement. At this writing, she is enjoying a visit to Paris with her daughters. She told me she was going to bring her sketch books and pretend to be an artist on the left bank. You go girl!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

About Me Part 2-The Story of Whimsiquills

This week I am continuing the “story of Whimsiquills”. If you missed part one, here is a link to the previous post.

I actually took a break from my quilling for a couple of years. I took a full time job as a child support investigator with the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement and continued with my child support advocacy work at the same time. The job, plus three kids at home kept me pretty busy. But even though Whimsiquills was tucked away, I didn’t forget it. I finally quit my job with the state and got back to quilling.

I was buying papers from Lake City Crafts and read about the English Quilling Guild in their little newsletter “The Lake City Gazette”. I was so excited to find out that there was actually a quilling guild. So I joined and became the regional representative for the United States. Sounds pretty important, but there were only sixteen American members (spread out over 12 states) of the guild at the time. In May of 1990, I wrote an introductory letter to all sixteen members, asking them if they knew of suppliers, and whether they sold their work or taught quilling. I also sent out press releases about the English quilling guild. Through my introductory letters, I met other quillers for the first time, and we decided to stay in touch. If you are a member of the North American Quilling Guild you can actually read those early letters on the web site. Log in, go to the member’s corner and click on the newsletter archive. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page you can read the first letters I sent out to those American Quillers. I continued to write “newsletters” to American Quillers for about ten years. Eventually I called the newsletter “Quill America”, and when the North American quillers decided to form an official quilling guild in 2000, Quill America became the official newsletter. (That meant I didn’t have to write it anymore! But that’s another story)

Back in 1990, I was teaching quilling in LeeWards (now Michaels), doing craft shows, and selling my work through a few shops. When I decided that quilling was going to be my full time business, I attended several small business seminars held by the SBA and learned about networking, tax numbers, business cards, brochures, etc. all of that neat stuff. I had professional pictures taken of some of my wedding designs and had color brochures done which I could use to promote my business, boy was that an expensive proposition! My focus at that time was on selling my finished pieces although Malinda Johnston (Lake City Craft owner) really encouraged me to start selling supplies. Since I was still teaching, (and having trouble finding supplies), I decided to take Malinda’s advice and started carrying Lake City Papers.

In 1994, my husband took time off between jobs to go to framing school. We then invested in professional mat cutting and framing equipment and I learned everything he learned at framing school. My husband made custom frames for my work. We started found a frame we could market to Whimsiquills customers which was easy to use and attractive. Unfortunately after 10 years or so, the company who was making the frames for us decided we were too small for them. We were ordering 500-700 frames a year but they decided to drop us and the moulding. At one point I had my work in nine different craft malls. For those of you who might not be familiar with craft malls, you actually rent space in the store and display your work. The rent covers your space and the store staff sells your work for you and then the store sends you a check. I found these craft malls worked better for me than craft shows since the items I liked to make (framed pieces) didn’t sell real well at the shows. The time factor was another reason I gave up doing shows. Making inventory in advance, packaging, pricing etc. then a day to pack up, the time of the actual show (1 or 2 days), and then unpacking after the show. It just took too much time away from actually quilling.

I think we put the first web site up in 1996 or 1997; the web site has continued to evolve over the years. I added English quilling papers to our line, and now we carry all of Paplin’s papers, tools and kits (I design the kits for Paplin). We’ve also added all of Quilled Creations tools, and kits, as well as books from the USA, England, Australia, and the Netherlands. Today, is a way for us to reach other quillers, share our knowledge and experience, and sell a huge assortment of quilling supplies. If you haven’t visited, stop in and browse through our gallery of finished work, instruction sheets, free patterns and supplies. And here I am, thirty plus years later . . . writing a blog! Two years ago, I didn’t even know what blog was! Go figure!

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”.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sentiments with Stickers

I’ve written about the fact that I am making all of my own cards before, but I just wanted to share with you something else I’ve found that makes the whole process a little easier and quicker. As I’ve said, I like to make the cards so the “sentiment” or written part inside the card can easily be removed and the card “recycled” or sent on to someone else. I’ve been using the corner/border punches to give the insert (the part where the sentiment goes) a pretty decorative edge. Here was the hard part. I would have to print out the sentiment (“thinking of you” or whatever) on a sheet of paper and then trim around it to add the decorative edge. The reason I would print them in the computer is simply because I have really lousy handwriting, and if I am going to all of the trouble of making a card, adding quilling and decorative trim, I don’t want to spoil the look by hand writing “Happy Birthday”. So . . . I went on a search to find stickers that would say what I wanted. Not an easy task! Since scrapbooking has become so incredibly popular, there are more stickers available than ever before. I know this because I have been a sticker fan for years. I use one of those great big wall calendars to write down all of our appointments etc. Since I have never found a “pretty” big wall calendar, I decorate them with seasonal stickers. As each day passes, I cover the day with one of the stickers. It looks kind of nice and since we are both senior citizens in this house, it helps us keep track of the date. (I wish I could say that we never miss an appointment or show up on the wrong day because of this calendar, but at least I am trying!) But to get back to the subject at hand; I went through countless catalogues and even got into my little PINK Tracker and drove over to Michaels and went up and down all of the sticker isles. I wanted something very simple and rather plain since I am doing the fancy punch work etc., but everything I found was either too big, fancy colors or only one or two sentiments on a whole page of other “stuff”. I did find some rubber stamp sets that would have been perfect, but I really didn’t want to get into the whole stamping thing. Then I started making phone calls and guess what?? I found them! I had to open another account with yet another vendor, but I have them and have decided to add them to my inventory. They are clear epoxy stickers so they have a little dimension to them but they work out perfectly. There are six sets: Thank You, Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Friendly Greetings, & A Year of Greetings.