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Friday, December 3, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoy the ritual of sitting down and writing out Christmas cards. I put on some Christmas music, light a “Christmasy” candle, make a cup of tea, and get to work. I enjoy taking the opportunity for a short visit with old friends and family. A few years ago, I started making my own cards, especially for special occasions. Since I send many Christmas cards, I try to keep the design fairly simple. Last year’s card had a small  snowflake.

This year I decided to use a poinsettia. I made the poinsettia using the alternate side looping technique. I usually use this technique when I am using two toned or graduated papers, but I decided that this quick, fun technique would be something a little different.

 I used a Christmas green greeting card and punched a  4” circle with my Fiskars dancing daisies circle punch. I used white pearlized paper for the circle. I measured to find the center of the circle and glued the center of my poinsettia there. The petals and leaves were all done ”free hand”. I didn’t measure the strips so the petals and leaves are not exactly the same size.

For the greeting inside the card, I printed Merry Christmas in red on regular computer paper and then used a holly border punch on the top and bottom. I attached everything to the card with removable Dotto adhesive so the card can be recycled or the little circle with the poinsettia can be use as an ornament or package decoration.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had about 25 people, friends and family, together at my house. (this is just half of the happy group) It’s kind of hard to believe that we are just around the corner from another new year. In spite of all the “doom and gloom” and dire predictions on the news, we still have much to be thankful for. Yesterday, surrounded by my family, I felt very fortunate indeed.. and I am still doing what I love to do . . . quilling. You would think that after 35 years, I would be tired of quilling, but I’m not. There is always another challenge. This summer I quilled lots of wedding invitations, some are pretty routine, but I even enjoy doing those. I can just “veg out” while I am making roses or the dozens of teardrops for flower petals. I still get a kick out of seeing a design come together.

Often, people ask me where I get the ideas for my designs. Sometimes they come easily. You just look at it and there it is, other times it can be a real challenge. A customer will call and say “I have a wedding invitation, but it’s kind of different . . . I don’t know what you will be able to do with it”. There’s the anticipation of waiting to see what it will look like. I had one like that this summer. The shape and size of the invitation was anything BUT routine; a horizontal, long, and narrow invitation and it was a beach wedding! So I just started making shapes and sea shells and then finally figured out how I was going to put it all together. I actually loved the finished piece and wished I had made a copy of the invite so I could make another for a sample. I did take a picture though, even though purples aren’t my favorite colors, I absolutely love the way they all work together.

Another piece that ended up being a challenge was a floral bouquet I did that was going to be given as a gift to the leader of a Bible study group. There was a deadline and we did everything over the phone and emails. Because it was long distance, it really became a challenge. I was only doing the quilling which is kind of unusual. Usually I determine the size, cut the mat, do the framing etc. The mat was going to have a Bible verse in calligraphy that went all the way around the mat. The calligrapher did the verse so the mat had to be horizontal in order to read the saying, so all of my plans for long graceful flower stems went out the window. Fortunately, I made the flowers but didn’t start gluing anything down until the very last minute. So the bouquet became a basket of flowers since there was no room for stems. The finished piece actually looked quite nice although I didn’t get a picture of the mat with the calligraphy. Inspiration comes in many forms

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things are back to normal

Just in case you are wondering what that strange sound is coming from northern Connecticut  . . . it’s me cheering because the problem with my blog has been resolved. I started this blog because so many quillers were contacting me with questions about teaching, framing, matting, selling their work etc. that I thought the blog would be a way to put all of that information out there for anyone who might be interested. I’ve put up 78 posts with reference materials and features I’ve done on other quillers; including pictures of their work and links to other quillers, my web site, and free patterns etc. I’ve had such a wonderful response to the blog so naturally I was devastated when that warning popped up. Thankfully some of my readers alerted me to the problem right away. Then the whole nightmare process of figuring out “what went wrong” began. I thought I would share this with you just in case you ever find yourself in this position.

When I saw the RED warning at the top of my blog (which is hosted by Google), I was directed to Webmaster Tools. The web master tools suggested that my site was “suspicious” and might contain “malware”. Unfortunately, Google didn’t tell me where the offending malware was located on my blog. I went through all of the comments and did find one that was “strange”, I deleted it immediately; but that did not solve the problem. Google suggested that I quarantine my blog, but I was unable to learn exactly how to do that.  I did end up getting professional help because I was so “lost” trying to clear the whole thing up (after all, I am a quilling artist NOT a computer expert). After much research, I found a site called  Google had made references to them in several of its “help” articles and apparently they have been written up in several computer magazines. They did a  ”security report” which rated every link on my site and found the culprit. I then ran for the offending site, and sure enough it told me that this site was hosting malicious software which had allowed it to act as intermediary for the infection of 37 other sites (including mine). I have deleted all references/links to that site which apparently had also been “hacked” by another site which had infected more than 1800 sites. I will now run any links through Google’s safe browsing diagnostic before I put it up on my site. I have contacted the other quiller who was hacked to let her know what has happened. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent on this problem, but the good news is that no one else was affected; the offending link has been removed and Google has given the “all clear”.  Now I can get back to writing about quilling!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Inspirational Story

Back in the end of August, I received this email in response to the blog I did about Anna Krow, who is an avid quiller in spite of her struggle with Parkinson's Disease. Antonieta shared her story about how quilling helped her after a brain injury. She agreed to let me share her story with you.

Dear Pat:
My name is Antonieta Velazquez. Some years ago I am in quillpictures yahoo groups.
I admire all your work and other quillers. I read in your blog about a person with Parkinson´s disease that started quilling. I want to tell you about how quilling saved my mind.

In 1994 I had an accident with my head in a library of my working center, I fell from stairs. That day I was looking for information about some chemical process for my master degree in this place. I am a chemical engineer and I was working in a scientific government company. The accident was very bad and my brain was damaged. In the next months I fell into a nervous depression. The words in my mind were lost, this accident affected my work. Then I took many pills for my brain.

One day I was watching TV and learned about a woman making quilling in Mexico City. Then I got a book on the internet (Malinda Johnston) and started quilling. It was fascinating because my brain started to improve and depression left. At that time I was married and I had a little child. (Today my child is 12 years old), and I was surprised because through quilling, I recovered my words and my brain´s abilities. I think I was better for 1999. In that time then I was a recognized quiller in my city, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. I appeared in TV programs and my quilling was shown in handcrafts magazines. But I started a little worried about my chemical engineer career... my mind only wants quilling and quilling and quilling!!!!

In 2002 my child entered school and I entered again my chemical world. For now I have a little business of handmade soap. I think the quilling saved my mind, my brain...and my life. Now I am more creative with my work; I also have another career in education. I think the quilling "opened" my mind to the creative work, included handmade soap and chemical process. I don’t know how I can explain this, but I think the quilling stimulated my brain to work better in all senses.

I returned to chemical engineering, but I think the quilling helped me so much with my brain accident. Today I am not quilling, but I enjoyed so much to see all the beautiful works including yours. Your tea cup is really wonderful. I remembered those beautiful quilling days. I am sending you my first project (fence), when it was shown in an English magazine called "Simply Quilling". I was 30 years old when I sent to this magazine my project. The magazine published my work and I was very happy about it. Then another Mexican handcrafts magazine published other projects of my creation.

I want the people with brain disease and nervous problems to know they can be health with a handcraft like paper quilling. I think paper quilling and another handcrafts should be studied by neurology-scientists because they really help to recover the brain from some problems. I don’t know the process in the brain... but it works!!!
Quilling works better than pills. I think the quilling developed the language area of my brain and recovered it.This area was damaged with the accident, but the mathematic area was not damaged, because I was able to do equations. Then I think the impact of the quilling was in the writing-reading-creative area.
It is hard for me to explain you in English, but I know you understand me.

I am 40 years old now, and I am a very happy chemical engineer making soap. My time for now is very busy. But I hope one day I will return to quilling. Anyway I want give you and another quillers thanks for sharing your creations.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Inspiration - Quilling with Anna Krow

Here is another inspirational story of a quiller who won’t give up. Anna is a sweet lady who buys her quilling supplies from us here at Whimsiquills. When she places an order she always takes a few minutes to “visits” on the phone with Debbie or myself and tells us all about her newest projects. She told me she likes doing business with us because she gets to talk to “real people”. I was surprised when I learned she is quilling while battling Parkinson’s disease. When she told me her local newspaper was doing a story about her, I asked her to send me a copy so I could share it with other quillers. Here it is:

Nobody tells Anna Krow she can’t do something.

Krow, 78, a Parkinson’s disease patient, spends days in her senior citizen apartment on Ashburg Drive in Mechanicsburg, coiling thin strips of paper into hundreds of beautiful pictures. Quilling, also called paper filigree, is a meticulous art that involves twisting and gluing paper, sometimes the thickness of 1/8 inch, into patterned designs. The craft involves immense patience and dexterity from an average person, let alone someone with a neurological disorder.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s 13 years ago Krow uses a wheelchair, her motor skills impaired to a degree that brushing her teeth and making a bed are at times, impossible. Still, she works with intensity on portraits of flowers and farm animals for her three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “You can counteract Parkinson’s symptoms to some degree by willpower” said Mike Lawler, owner of Honor Healthcare Group, which provides services to elderly or disabled people living at home. “It’s like wearing a suit of armor all the time. It’s so fatiguing, but she mentally overrides it.” Lawler met Krow a year ago. It’s common for nurses with his company to walk in on Krow hunched over a table in her kitchen, multicolored pieces of paper strewn about the apartment as she works on her next masterpiece. Her pieces have won first – and second-place ribbons in the Dillsburg Community Fair.

Krow fell in love with the art 30 years ago when a friend gave her a quilled picture for Christmas that still hangs in her bathroom. She didn’t take up quilling again until a few years ago, Her disease symptoms left Krow sitting in a lounge chair most of the day when her husband Karl, surprised her with a bag of quilling materials. “I was tired of the four walls and the ceiling. I couldn’t do anything,” Krow said. “I love doing this. I could sit here all day.” She’s created a wedding picture frame for her great-niece. Roses are her favorite flower to make. The small patterns, she can do in one day.
“I like to play,” she said. “When someone tells me I can’t do something, I do it.”

Friday, July 23, 2010

The End of an Era (Quilling)

The End of an Era (Quilling)

I am always glad to meet new quilling friends; through Whimsiquills I meet so many more than I would have otherwise. Yesterday I had a rather poignant phone “visit” with a quiller named Jeanne who lives in Vermont. She learned to quill in 1972 when her sister-in-law who was from Vietnam came for a visit, she had been taught to quill by French nuns. Jeanne told me that the two of them sat cross-legged on her bed while her sister-in-law gave her a needle and a tiny strip of paper and told her she was going to teach her to “filigree”. She was immediately hooked (as so many of us are), she packed away her knitting needles and crochet hooks and concentrated on quilling. She loved doing miniature plants and flowers. Over the years, as she raised her four children, she enjoyed making them so much that she ended up selling them at craft shows, as she said to get them out of the house.

Sadly, she is now experiencing problems with her vision and arthritis in her right hand and is no longer able to quill. She called me to ask if I would be able to help her find someone who might be interested in buying her supplies . . . this has been a tough decision for her. She has been holding on to these supplies in the hope that she will be able to quill again. She shared with me that each time she has tried to quill; her efforts have brought her to tears. It is now time to pass these things on to someone else, whom will experience the same pleasure from using them. She doesn’t want to put them up on EBay, but wants them to go to someone who will actually use them.

Included in the supplies are at least 50 packages of strips, tools, work board, and some old kits. Some of these are vintage papers and I am sure, include colors that are no longer available. If you or someone you know would enjoy having Jeanne’s quilling supplies, you may contact Jeanne directly. You can email her at or phone her at 802 773 5030.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quilling Journal vs. Quilling Blog

Journal vs. Blog

Writing a blog is a strange kind of pastime. For years, I kept a journal, which I filled with my innermost thoughts, fears, and hopes. It was, for me, a way of letting go of things that bothered me, and it was very private. I have read some blogs that are much like my journal and often wonder how people are able to open themselves up to strangers so easily. When I learned about blogs, I thought a blog might be a way for me to reach out to other quillers and share some of my thoughts and quilling experiences, in this case, I wanted others to read these thoughts and learn from them and perhaps get to know me a little better. I find that I am putting a little more of “me” out there than I originally thought I would, but that’s okay. In return, I have met some wonderful readers who are willing to share their stories with me. Here is one I recently received.

<em>I just want to say Thank You so very much for the free patterns you have posted on your site. I have many health issues and I don't leave the house very much any more. Two years ago I was looking thru some craft sites and I kept seeing the word "quilling". I had no idea what that meant! So, I did some research! I found every single website that gave any free info about quilling...and I learned. :o) I spent an entire winter teaching myself, buying some paper, kits, and supplies. I liked the fact that it's not an expensive craft. I actually did the exact same thing w tea bag folding...I really enjoy that too! :o) In the past 2 years I have also taught myself how to make and sell beautiful stretchy glass and gem bracelets, and I have enjoyed rubber stamping and card making for years, and this year my hubby bought me a Cricut! :o) So, I have gotten sidetracked from quilling. I've actually had some requests from friends and my mom to start quilling again because it is so unique and "special". In this heat I'm not feeling energetic enough to get out of bed, so I thought I should start quilling again. That is an activity that I can do in bed, which is 1 thing that attracted me to it in the 1st place! I have purchased some books over the past couple of years that have been very helpful, but I must say...I am in love w your website! I've been looking at Patricia's wedding announcements, etc. They were so beautiful and personal and special, I cried! For the past couple of years I've wanted to make something very special for my mom, something that I could frame...but I just wasn't able to figure out what to do or how to go about doing it. This past Jan 21st my parents’ house burned to the ground. Praise God they were tucked safely away in FL at the time! This has been such a terrible crisis for them, so heartbreaking to lose so many special things that can never be replaced. Just this past weekend as I was showing her some of my new card creations, she said.."I kept every single card you ever made me, and they're gone." she was so sad. I told her it was no biggie, there will be other cards!! Plus the ones that burned were just my "beginners"... :o) I'm much better now! My parents are in the midst of building a new house and mom wants to have all of us kids come home for Thanksgiving, but celebrate Christmas at that time so that they can go back to FL when they feel ready to leave. So... I've decided it's time! For their 1st holiday in their new home, I want to make them something very special. I'm thinking maybe something w all the seasons... I have a frame w 3 windows, so I could do Spring/Summer, Fall, Winter. I absolutely LOVE your new free fall patterns!! I had been looking for a tree either last year or the year before, I love this one, and it’s the perfect size!! Maybe I will use some type of poem, or maybe some Bible verses the way you used the wedding invitations... Hmmm...

Thanks again for being so generous! :o)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Butterfly project

Several weeks ago I read an article in our local newspaper, by William Denton, about a synagogue here in Connecticut that was collecting handmade paper butterflies to send to the Holocaust Museum Houston. The museum “is preparing an exhibit of 1.5 million butterflies to represent the number of children who perished in the Holocaust.” The exhibit is currently scheduled for spring of 2013 and according to the article the museum currently has 400,000 butterflies. The article went on to quote a poem “The Butterfly” by Pavel Friedman, who was born in Prague in 1921, deported to Terezin ghetto and concentration camp in 1942 and later to Auschwitz, where he died in 1944. In the poem he describes seeing a single butterfly.

The last, the very last.
So richly, brightly, dazzling yellow . . .
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly way up high . . .
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto . . .
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one. Butterflies don’t live here, in the ghetto.

I love butterflies, I always have. I think they show us just how beautiful and fragile life can be. So I am sending some quilled butterflies to the museum. The butterflies I made are from 2-4” across and I used ¼” and 3/8” strips. I did spray them with Stiffen Stuff to make them a little sturdier (is that a word?) since I don’t know how they will be displayed. I put a note in my calendar book to start checking back with the museum’s web site in spring 2013. I can’t even imagine how great this exhibit will be with 1.5 million paper butterflies, but more importantly those butterflies will help us remember the children they represent. Perhaps some of you will also be inspired to send some along as well, please let me know if you do. The web site for the museum is , here is a link for the Butterfly Project . The address for the museum is Holocaust Museum Houston, Butterfly Project, Education Department , 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004 If you live in Connecticut, you may send your butterflies (by June 30) to Temple B’nai Israel, P O Box 61, Willimantic, CT 06226 where they will be displayed at the temple and then sent on to the Holocaust Museum.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Quilling Die Cuts?

I have been reading the chatter on line about the quilling die that Cuttlebug by Provocraft showed at the CHA this year. I just couldn’t imagine how a die cut system had could produce something you could use for quilling; that is, unless it was going to cut the strips. Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to take a look. I watched the video and finally realized what they were talking about. The Cuttlebug will cut a long strip of “petals” which can then be rolled up (like a quilling strip) to produce a flower. Now I have watched quillers cut these petals by hand and have even tried it myself. I didn’t like my results at all. Somehow I managed to space the petals so when I rolled them up they were kind of on top of one another and didn’t look that terrific when I spread them apart. The Cuttlebug seems to have the spacing right, but the finished product doesn’t look too much like quilling to me, maybe a little more like a punch flower. Watch the video and see for yourself. Of course there is still the debate about whether or not things like ribbons, punch flowers, or beads/pearls should be added to quillwork. (Although pictures of some antique quilling show cut flowers, wire, and chips of wax, and frequently crushed mica back grounds.) Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, people are talking about QUILLING!

I think it is very interesting that, after years of quilling being “in the closet”, when only a few of us even knew what it was, that quilling has BURST upon the arts & crafts scene as though it was just “discovered”. All of a sudden we are seeing it in magazines, videos on YouTube, quilling blogs, and web sites devoted to quilling. It’s even in home school curricula. How neat is that! Those of us, who founded the North American Quilling Guild, made it our mission to promote the art of quilling and pass it on to future generations. Well it looks like that isn’t going to be much of an issue anymore, I am seeing it everywhere. My Mom even sent me a commercial greeting card that had a picture of quilling on the front. While quilling may never catch on like scrapbooking, it seems to have found a niche in the crafting community. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this resurgence!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quilling Serendipity in 2010

I guess you could call it serendipity. When I submitted a couple of pictures of my work to the local newspaper, I had no idea if they would publish them. They only use “art” on the cover of the “itown” section and, as quilling artists, we all know about that art vs. craft thingie. I was pleasantly surprised when I came home from the hospital on January 3rd to see my quilled teacup and saucer on the cover page. I received several nice phone calls and emails from people who had seen it. It was a really nice “pick-me-up” after a crummy start to the New Year.

On Monday, Debbie took a call from someone named Linda, who wanted to talk to me about doing an interview. I was still not feeling well on Monday so I didn’t get to talk to Linda until Tuesday. She told me about her blog and said she was fascinated by the quilling she saw in the paper and could she come and visit. We set a date for Friday. When she came over, we chatted a little bit about my work. She liked the fact that I have this huge window in the studio where I can watch the birds while I work, and the way the property backs up to the woods. It is very peaceful. Then she asked me if I meditate. I laughed and said “I’m working on it” and told her about the previous weekend when I had lost vision in one eye and was rushed to the hospital. (Fortunately, I did not actually have a stroke and my vision returned, although for a while I saw two of everything, I told the nurses that I wouldn’t go home with TWO husbands, one was quite enough!) So we talked about meditation and Yoga and how they would make me feel so much better etc. Eventually we got around to the interview. I hadn’t realized she was going to do a video, but that’s what she did. She had it up on YouTube in no time at all. Then she wrote about the interview and put it up on her blog. The best part about the whole thing was that I got to meet a really neat person, who took the time to pick up the phone so she could share with others something that had moved her. The front page of her blog says that it is “A place to be reminded that there is always something to be grateful for and that beauty and goodness can be found wherever we look.” How true that is; and yet many times we let the days go by without reflecting on that beauty and goodness; I know I do. I am very grateful to Linda for reminding me of that “beauty and goodness”. Later that day she stopped by to drop off a guided meditation CD for me . . . maybe 2010 is going to be better than I thought.

PS For those of you who might not recognize them, the teacup critters and the quilled clown at the beginning of the video are not my work. My very talented quilling friends Sherry Rodehaver (the tea cup critters) and Jinny Alexander (the quilled clown) made those.