Quilling is the discipline of coiling and rolling thin paper strips in to different shapes in order to create a design. Quilling can also be known as paper filigree or paper rolling. The paper strips are wound around an instrument called a quill in order to create the coils which are then loosened and shaped with the fingers into the desired shape. They are then glued into position. It is thought that the name originated when ancient quillers used a feather (or quill) to roll their papers.
It is believed that European nuns and monks used the art of quilling to decorate religious items during the 16th and 17th Centuries. A popular thought is that the golden trimmed edges of books were cut off in strips and used for quilling. However, books were very expensive and precious during this time so it is fairly unlikely that this happened. In the 18th and 19th Centuries quilling became a popular past time for the ladies of the day. There were taught to quill like they were taught to sew, paint and play the piano. These affluent ladies would decorate furniture, boxes and even purses using quilled shapes. As we know, back in those days simplicity certainly was not the in thing. These items would have been heavily decorated with every inch of space covered with quilling.
Quill – There are two main types of quilling tool; slotted and needle. The slotted tool is essentially a plastic tube that has a slot on the end. The quilling paper is inserted in the slot and then wrapped around the outside. The needle tool will normally be made up of a wooden handle (thought plastic is available) with a needle. The paper is wrapped around the needle and held in place with the thumb and forefinger. The slotted tool is generally a bit easier to use and is advisable for beginners. The advantage of the needle tool is that it doesn’t leave a crease in the end of the paper strip like the slotted tool does.
Paper – Quilling paper comes in a range of styles and sizes. Most projects, especially for beginners, will require standard sized quilling paper which is 3mm. You will generally buy the paper in pre-cut packs of similar shades. You can also get two-tone quilling paper as well as strips with gilt-edges for a really ornate look!
Scissors – For trimming the strips of paper where necessary.
Basic Quilling Shapes
There are many shapes that can be created with your quilling tool. Here is a quick illustration of some of the most common that you are likely to come across along with a ‘how to’ video.