When you are learning to quill, it is natural for you to want your finished quilling to look exactly like the pattern you are following, but it probably won’t. There are many factors that affect the look of a quilled piece that most artists are not even be aware of. Here are five quilling tips that explain the problems you may be having and what you can do to create more consistent, professional quillwork that you can be proud of.
Your rolls and scrolls will be unique to you. They will not look exactly like mine or like those of anyone else. Everyone uses different tension when they curl the paper strips resulting in variations in the coils and scrolls. Not only that, but your own quills will vary from each other depending on your mood and how you feel at the time. To see for yourself, compare coils that you made when you are tired or frazzled with those made when you are relaxed and rested. You’ll notice a big difference. A great tip is to prepare all of your strips for a project at one time. This allows you to roll your strips one right after the other, producing quills with more consistent tension.
Neatness counts, control the glue. Nothing will ruin the look of a piece of finished quilling more than seeing bits of glue all over it or gobs of glue under it where it is attached to its backing. It only takes the tiniest drop to seal the end of a coil to itself or to attach one coil or scroll to another as you build your design. A bit more adhesive may be needed to attach the paper quilling to the box or frame back, but not much. Clean hands are an absolute must when working with paper filigree and you’ll want to wash your hands before starting on any quilling project. The best quilling tip I’ve found to help keep glue off the fingers is to keep a wet paper towel handy to wipe your fingers on as you quill. Also, keep hand lotions to a minimum so the oils don’t discolor the paper.
All quilling paper is not created equal. You would think that one package of 1/8 inch wide paper would be the same as another, but that’s not the case. As we all know, paper comes in different weights and even among those of the same weight, some papers simply have more “body” than others making them more suitable for quilling. The weight of the paper used to create the strips will vary slightly between manufacturers and even within the same manufacturer. In fact, there is one manufacturer out there selling quilling strips made from thin card stock that is very difficult to work with since it cracks and splits. If you are having trouble quilling, before you give up out of frustration, try a strip of paper from a different company. You may find that the problem with your coils is with the paper and not you.
Quilling paper has a right” and a “wrong” side. If you examine a strip of quilling paper, you will notice that one side has smooth edges that curve down ever so slightly. The other side has edges that slightly curve up. This is because the paper cutting blade pushes down on the paper as it cuts. The smooth side is considered the right (or top) side of the paper. You will want to start your curls with this side of the paper up. This difference is especially noticeable when joining several strips together to form a large tight coil for use as a base, etc.
Use the quilling tool that works for you. There are many commercial tools available for curling paper, both slotted and straight needle types. A round toothpick or corsage pin can also be used. As for me, I prefer the most basic tool of all — my fingers. Keep in mind that quilling tools are just that, tools to help you create the desired coil or spiral. By all means, follow the instructions that come with the tool or those you find online, but if the directions just don’t seem to work for you, don’t hesitate to try using the tool in a slightly different way. The instructions that came with my first slotted tool told me to curl the paper toward me. I tried many times, but my fingers struggled with that motion. However, when I rolled the paper away from me it felt right and that is how I use that tool today. If you are still having trouble using a specific type of tool, try a different tool entirely. You will soon find the one that is right for you.
Put these quilling tips to work for you and you’ll see improved results in no time.
Click now for a free quilling e-book packed with more tips and three complete quilling patterns. Written by award winning quilling artist, Charlotte Canup, it’s more than just a great book for the beginner, it has something for quillers of all levels.
- Dimensions: 10 in. H x 8.5 in. W x .4 in. D
- Weight: 1.06 ounces
- Made in United States