Sunday, January 21, 2018

Basic Snowflakes - Patterns for Beginners

Snowflake #2 - Only four different kinds
of shapes are needed to create this
colorful snowflake - detailed pattern for
this flake to be posted soon on Craftsy.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I've taught some workshops recently for beginning quillers.  To support those workshops, I created a couple of patterns for easy snowflakes using just basic shapes.  I'm going to generate some nice write-ups for these and post them for free on Craftsy.  I'll let you know when I do that.  But in the meantime, what with all this snow so far this winter, I thought I'd put the general writeup for the first and easiest snowflake pattern right here.

Snowflake #1 - You will need:
  • Paper Strips – 12 strips of paper, each 8 inches long.
  • White craft glue.
  • Wax paper is good to have, but not necessary.
  • A toothpick can help apply tiny dabs of glue.
  • A quilling tool or toothpick if that’s how you like to roll up your paper quills.

Step One: Get Ready

Work on a flat surface where you can leave your quilling overnight to dry.  If you have it, put a piece of wax paper over the pattern (Snowflake #1 - Pattern, below).  As you make your quills, you can arrange them right over the pattern.  Put your paper strips and glue nearby.

Loose coil shape.  Diamond shape.  Teardrop shape.
Step Two: Make Quills 

Snowflake #1 pattern requires:

- Six (6) Diamond Shapes, any color you like.
- Six (6) Teardrop Shapes, any color you like.

To begin, check out the paper quilling tutorial on Craftsy to learn how to start quilling.  It shows the initial steps, and then how to make basic shapes.  You will want to start by making a loose coil shape, and then pinching it to create one of the two other shapes shown here.  Practice making these shapes until you like what you see.  Then to create Snowflake #1, make six diamond shapes and six teardrop shapes.

Snowflake #1 - Pattern
Your shapes may be bigger or smaller than those in this pattern, depending on if you quill with your fingers or a quilling tool, and how big you let your quills expand before you glue them.  It’s okay if your quills are a different size, just use the pattern as a guide.

Step Three: Arrange and Glue Quills:

Following the pattern, take the six diamond shapes and glue them together to form what looks like a six pointed star.  Give this a few minutes to dry.   Then take the six teardrop shapes and glue them to the star with the points facing outwards.

Step Four: Finish

Let the snowflake dry overnight. Remove it carefully from the background, since if you used a bit too much glue, it may stick.  Then use some string or ribbon to hang!

Image Credits: Snowflakes, my pix of my own snowflakes. Close-up of loos coil, diamond, and teardrop shapes used from

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Quilling Workshop - UUCC Women's Retreat

Smiling with my quilling
supplies at hand.
There was a buzz of happy conversation during registration for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia's (UUCC) Women's Retreat this January 6th.  We hadn't had a woman's retreat in over a year, and this one-day mini-re"treat" was indeed a treat.

I was excited and honored that my quilling workshop was selected as part of the program!  As I noted in a previous post, at the last women's retreat I quilled my name tag.  This tag started all sorts of conversations, including one that suggested I should teach quilling at the next retreat.  It was really gratifying to see that idea come to fruition.

Now, I had taught a quilling workshop just the week before to children aged 5-12.  It went wonderfully, but all my materials were in a happy mess.  I had to scramble to get myself organized for the Jan 6th retreat.  With organization mostly achieved, I packed 15 of my 50 quilling books into my rolling craft carrier, along with tools, paper, patterns, glue and all the rest.  I included some of my actual quilling, like my Halloween Sampler, Spiral Moon, and Berry Sampler.

Discussing quilling designs with artist
Carol Zika.  The books were a great way
to introduce the world of quilling.
Everyone found something to inspire them.
The room filled with the 20 people who had scheduled for the workshop.  I was prepared with a pile of tools and paper (thanks muchly to Quilled Creations and their teacher discount!) so everyone had their own to work with.  We started with introductions, and then I spent time passing around my quilling examples as well as quilling books so everyone would have a chance to see all the amazing things that are possible with nothing more than paper and glue.

Then we got deep into the paper, with everyone practicing how to form the basic loose coil.  As it happens, I don't quill with a tool; I've been using my fingers alone for decades.  I only use a needle tool in some specific circumstances.  Many of my quillers with stiffer hands and arthritis found the slotted tool to be the most user-friendly way to quill.  Some quillers preferred the fingers-only approach. 

I find this is a very important point in a workshop, because an experienced quiller makes things look easy, and for first timers quilling can be tricky.  When their first coils don't look like mine, I always see some frustration.  So I provide a lot of encouragement and coaching at this point, trying to get people to adjust to the fact that their initial attempts might not be as perfect as they had hoped.  Quilling, like any craft, gets easier the more you do it.  The group was having fun, and was very motivated, so collective frustration didn't last long.

Here I am demonstrating my personal
take on the finger quilling technique.
I handed out sheets with various shapes (thanks here to the NAQG formal list of shapes and names) and we made teardrops, squares, triangles, eyes, and more.  By this time some of the quillers were off - seeing things in the books they wanted to try and just going for it.  Others spent more time quilling the basic shapes, trying to hone their technique.

By the end of our time, everyone had at least some quilled shapes to take home, while others had used the cards I provided to make some pretty substantial designs.  I was able to hand out extra paper to everyone, and even some tools to those who wanted to use them.  I also gave everyone a three page handout I had prepared that included: information about quilling, instructions on making the basic shapes, and free snowflake patterns I designed using those shapes.  It also included my contact information.  It was really nice to get two emails the very next day from people who said they had a great time, and wanted to continue to quill!

I had a great time sharing something I have loved since I was nine years old (which means 40 years of quilling, yikes!)  It was also wonderful to have some more time to connect with the women at UUCC.  I'm looking forward to our retreat this fall in early December!

Images:  Pics using my camera taken by workshop attendee.  Carol Zika's face and name appear with her permission.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Creative Endeavors: A Bit of Bread

After quite the blogging hiatus here, I'm back with lots to share!  Last year was filled with all sorts of unscheduled fun like multiple bouts of the flu and a couple family medical crises (thankfully all resolved in a good way.)  And then there's that textbook that has been taking up all of my spare writing time ... but that's well in hand (finally) and it's time to get back into the blogging habit for 2018.  I've already done two quilling workshops in the last 10 days, and I'm excited to let you in on all that happened!

But first ...

I couldn't resist blogging about this loaf of bread.  I know, it isn't quilling or jewelry, but I consider bread to be a highly creative (and unpredictable) endeavor, so here it is.

I spotted this bread mix in a store.  "Soberdough" which it certainly isn't.  I normally stay well away from making real bread - I can't get it to rise; I think I might be a witch.  But anyway, this one said, "Just Add Beer" and I couldn't resist.  Since it was cinnamon swirl bread I used a bottle of Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider instead of beer.  Mixed it up as directed.  It said "pour" into bread pan but mine sort of "plopped."

Still, it made the house smell great while it was baking.  I pulled it out, let it cool, and lo and behold, a loaf of bread.  It sort of has a consistency somewhere in the middle of the muffin-bread-cake ternary diagram.  Flavor is not bad at all.  Had some for tea today, and it was very nice.

The real test?  Let's see if it makes good french toast tomorrow!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Touching a Legacy and a Tiny Mystery

A fantastic book - a favorite
I've already reviewed here
on the blog.
I was very saddened to learn today that quiller Malinda Johnston passed away just a few days ago, on Thanksgiving, November 24, 2016.  I was one of a huge number of quillers that found her work to be inspiring.  Her books simply made me want to quill, and then they did a great job of showing you just how to do it.  She has left behind an incredible legacy that will positively impact paper quilling and quillers for many years to come.

I've already reviewed her book "The Book of Paper Quilling: Techniques and Projects for Paper Filigree" here on this blog.  It will always be a favorite.  I remember opening up the book and flipping through the designs for the first time.  I was particularly impressed by the Halloween design (after seeing me post my own Halloween Sampler here on the blog, I'm sure you are not surprised by this.)  The little pumpkin on that page is so perfectly made, and the swirls in the ghost show impeccable technique.  I decided that no pumpkin could possibly be better than that one, and have rather consciously tried to meet that standard on every pumpkin I've quilled since.

And then years later ...

Pages 78 and 79 of the book, showing the little pumpkin
that I became somewhat obsessed over.
I blogged about attending the North American Quilling Guild Conference that happened in May of this year.  One of the things I didn't mention was that at that meeting, everyone had the chance to walk away with a piece of quilling history.  A number of older pieces of quilling had been contributed to the guild, and we were all given the chance to pick one out for our very own.  I didn't know this until late in the meeting, and so by the time I got to the display there weren't many left.  I walked down the table ... and couldn't believe my eyes.  There was the pumpkin!  The ghost!  And I was able to take them home for my very own!  They are a bit worse for wear over the years, but I am thrilled to have them in my collection.

Actual in-my-hard art is
above, and the book's
image is below.
So that is me with a small touch of a great legacy.  So what is the tiny mystery, here?  It is this - the question of who quilled this piece is not easily answered.  You'd think it would be easy, because on the back of the piece there is a post-it note saying "Designed by Eleanor Baxter for LCC Book of Paper Quilling pg. 79."  But.  When you read the acknowledgements in the back of the book, Eleanor Baxter is credited with the Valentine Heart, also shown on page 79.  (see picture of two page spread, above.)  In fact, no one in the acknowledgements is credited with the Halloween design.  So I'm wondering, did Malinda do this herself, and did the post it note get moved to the back of the wrong project?  Or was there a mistake in the acknowledgements for the book? 

Another picture of book with
quilled art.  Love it.
I suppose I might never know the answer to those questions.  It does not matter to me from one perspective - that I now own this awesome piece of quilling that has always meant something to me.  But it does matter to me because I'd love to give credit where it is due.  In any case, Malinda Johnston created a great book that included this and many other wonderful designs.  And she did a great deal more for quillers everywhere.  I still look forward to quilling designs from Lake City Crafts.

Image Credits:  My pictures of books and quilling that I own.  The Halloween design?  Well, it appears in the book, and could be from either Malinda Johnston or Eleanor Baxter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What a little quilled name tag can do ...

I spent last weekend at a women's retreat organized by my church.  It ended up being a wonderful time, but I started the weekend not knowing anyone at all.  I was concerned that, what with having social anxiety, I'd be afraid to meet anyone, and would spend the time alone.

Still, I went to the event with an open mind and lots of hope to meet other local women and perhaps start some new friendships.  I noticed on the agenda that one of the first things we were going to do was "Make Your Own Name Tag" so naturally I brought along my travel quilling kit with some extra cardstock.

The name itself had been provided for us, so all I had to do was pick some pretty paper, glue things together, and then do a bit of quilling.  I chose something simple because I was nervous, and because I wanted to be sure the glue had time to dry before I put the tag on.  Flowers, can't go wrong. 

The first thing that happened was that the array of colors of the quilling paper attracted some attention. "What is that?" one woman asked, and of course I was thrilled to give a quick quilling demonstration.  Another woman walked over and said, "Oh, my mom used to do that!  I forget what it's called."  And so a different conversation got started.  By the end of name-tag-making-time, I had several people sitting around me, talking, making tags, and asking to use some of my supplies.  It was great.

The rest of the weekend people kept coming up to me and remarking on my name tag.  It was absolutely the best conversation starter.  I had no idea it would attract so much attention, but was glad that it did - I met so many wonderful people that I probably would have been too shy to approach myself.  At the end weekend one of the organizers said I should consider doing a quilling workshop for the next year's retreat!  I certainly hope I can say yes to that request - I'll have to see what my schedule holds, but it was so nice to be asked.

I will certainly be quilling more things like name tags in the future.  It turns out to be the perfect way to get a conversation going and to meet new people!

Image Credit:  My pic of my own nametag, my quilling and design.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Sampler - Projects #8 and #9

This is the last post for the Halloween Sampler!  Finally ... I hope these instructions are of some use, and that you have fun making a few of these little projects, or the whole sampler!

I particularly hope you have fun with the projects that are a little more unusual - there are lots of patterns for pumpkins, but vampire fangs and skeleton keys are a little more hard to find.

This post covers projects #8 and #9 (out of nine).  I've already posted the general instructions, the mat board cutting instructions, as well as projects #1 - #7 and a bonus project!

First post -  Halloween Sampler
Second post - General Instructions and Mat board
Third post - Bonus Project and Project #1
Fourth post - Projects #2 and #3
Fifth post - Projects #4 and #5 
Sixth post - Projects #6 and #7 
Seventh (and last) post is this one! - Projects #8 and #9

And remember, if you want to download all the instructions right now in one go, then head over to Craftsy where I have them posted for $3.99.

Project #8:  Vampire Fangs

- bright red, 2 strips at 8” (upper lip)
- bright red, 1 strip at 12” (lower lip)
- bright white, 2 strips at 3” (fangs)
- dark red, 1 strip at 6” (blood drop)
Thorny Rose Vines
- bright red, 1 strip at 12” (rose) 1/4” wide strip
- olive green, 2 strips at 5” (vines)
- olive green, 4 strips at 2.5” (thorns)
- dark red, 1 strip at 3” (blood drop)

Start by using 2 of the 8" bright red strips.  Make two long teardrops.  Make a long, flat semi-circle with the 12" strip.  Glue these three pieces together as shown to form lips.  Form fangs by taking the 2, 3” strips of white and making long triangles.  Glue these on top of the lower lip.  Make a teardrop out of the 6” dark red strip, and glue it to the lower lip so it appears to be dripping off of one of the fangs.

Make a rose from the 12” strip of 1/4" wide paper.  Make two long “S” coil shapes from the 5” olive green strips.  On each of these “S” shapes, glue two thorns.  The thorns are long triangle shapes made from the 2.5” long strips of olive green.  For a final touch, create a small teardrop shape from the 3” dark red strip and position it so it drips from one of the thorns.

The fangs and thorny vines are found in the upper right square of the sampler.  Glue the pieces into place there, the square in the top, right column.

Project #9:  Witch’s Lair

- bright purple, 2 strips at 10” (hat)
- orange, 1 strip at 1.5” (sash)
- yellow, 1 strip at 1” (buckle) ¼ wide paper
- black, 1 strip at 1/8” (buckle)
- black, 1 strip at 9” (body)
- black, 1 strip at 5” (head)
- black, 1 strip at 4” (tail)
- black, 1 strip at 2” (whiskers)
- black, 1 strip at 2” (nose) 1/8” narrow paper
- black, 2 strips at 2” (ears)
- neon green, 2 strips at 1.5” (eyes)
- black, 1 strip at 25” (pot)
- black, 1 strip at 12” (lip of pot)
- black, 2 strips at 3” (feet of pot)
- green/yellow, 4 strips; 5”, 4”, 3”, 2” (poison fumes)

To make the witch’s hat, start with a 10” strip of bright purple and form it into a long triangle, with the tip slightly bent.  Make a circle out of the other 10” strip and squash it flat to form the brim of the hat.  Glue together.

Use the strip of orange and wrap it around the bottom of the hat just above the brim.  It should go across the front and down both sides of the hat (but not around the back).  Trim the strip to fit if necessary. 

To make the buckle use the bit of 1” yellow wide width paper, cut a small rectangle.  Use the black paper to cut an even smaller rectangle, as shown.  Glue the black rectangle onto the yellow one.  Now glue this onto the hat, on top of the strip of orange.  (You can also make a nice hat from other colors, such as black and dark green, and use strips of different colors as well for the sash.)

The cat’s body is made from a wide teardrop formed from the 9” long strip of black paper.  The 5” strip should be formed into an eye shape and glued on top of the teardrop.  Use the 4” length of black to form a tail, curving and trimming into whatever shape pleases you.  Make two ears by making long triangles from the 2” strips of black paper.  An image of the back of the finished cat is shown.

The face is more detailed, and getting a good picture was hard.  First, make two eye shapes from the neon green, and glue them to the upper part of the head, just under the ears.  Now take the 2” strip of black and use the scissors to cut it lengthwise into 4 very narrow strips.  Center these under the cat’s eyes, and fan them out a bit to look like whiskers.  Glue into place one at a time, right on top of one another.  Just use one tiny dab of glue at a time, and then put another whisker down, and glue that.  On top of the center of the whiskers, you will put the nose.  The nose is a triangle made from the 2” strip of narrow black (although regular width would work fine, using narrow width paper here helps to keep the nose from poking out, and hides the middle of the pile of whiskers where you glued them in place.)  Glue the nose.  Trim the whiskers to be the right length for your project.  (mine stick out about ½ to ¼ of an inch from the nose on either side).

The boiling caldron starts with the 25” strip of black, rolled into an offset-circle.  Put the center of the offset at the bottom, and flatten the top of the circle to be the top of the pot.  Use the 12” strip to form a circle, and squash it flat to make up the brim of the pot.  Glue in place.  The feet of the pot are made from the 2, 3” strips made into circles.  Glue to the pot.

The poisonous fumes are made from four pieces of yellow/green paper of various lengths.  Each is made into an “S” Shape and glued to the top of the pot, and to each other wherever they touch.  I used 5”, 4”, 3”, and 2” length strips.

Arrange the hat, cat, and caldron in the lower, middle square.  Glue into place in the middle column, bottom, as shown.

Image Credit:  All my own pictures of my own quilling, all my own original designs.