Monday, August 31, 2015

Quilled Lotus Flower Earrings with Pearls

Of course, while I was supposed to be working on dragon, I was instead taking breaks to quill other things.  I always find myself doing this ... I just can't stay focused on a single craft project at one time.  I always have multiple projects in the works.  I'm going to chalk it up to my ADD, which certainly helps one be creative, but can interfere with staying on task sometimes.

Anyway, I got the urge to make lotus flowers, even though I've never done it before.  I have a lot of books on meditation, many of them with different depictions of lotus flowers on the cover.  I decided to do something simple, and used a five petal design to mimic the flower.  To add some depth to them I used pearlized paper in two colors for each of the petals.  So the colors are white/grey, blue/green, and pink/lilac.  You can see the colors better in the inset images.

The pearl paper gave me the idea of making earrings using Swarovski pearls.  I make a lot of gemstone jewelry, and this seemed like a perfect way to use the flowers.  Except for that post I wrote earlier where I said I don't like to make quilled jewelry.  Well, I'm eating my words, here.

So I added an open circle to the bottom of each flower and used that to attach color coordinated Swarovski pearls in pink, purple, and white.  All the findings are silver or silver toned.  I really like the way they came out, very light and graceful.  I used a great deal of acrylic spray on them, hoping they will be able to stand up to some wear.  Now I just have to choose which pair I'm going to keep and which I'm giving away.

Image Credit:  My pix of my own quilling work, designs by me.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Work in Progress - Dragon, Update Two

A view of dragon from the last
update - neck filled in.
As I blogged previously, my current "large" project is a dragon. I've been working on it and then putting it off and quilling other things (iterate) for quite some time now, but it is beginning to come together. Here's another update on dragon's status.

Lower half of body with
red and blue outline on the
upper half, and orange spines.
I had filled in the neck and then used the yellow underbelly quills to help me guide filling in the first half of the body.  It was tricky, since I was stubbornly holding to the idea that I wanted all the green teardrop shapes to be the same size (more or less) and point the same way.  So getting around the curves took some planning and a bit of forming (and shoving) of the quills into place.

Then I noted that my drawing had outlines of both red and blue.  So using single strips I lined the upper side of the body.  The effect is subtle, not thick like in the line drawing, but I think it works just fine.  You can see this effect better in the second picture, where the lower half of the body is completed.

Dragon foot!  With claws!
The spines were really a pain. As in the line drawing, I wanted them to be orange with blue on the outside, just as I had colored them in.  So I glued strips of orange and blue together and started rolling.  Each of the spines is a different size, and is curved in its own unique way.  So there was no other method to follow but to keep experimenting with different lengths of strips, rolling them up and seeing if they could be made to fit any of the spines.  I started to get a feel for it after a while, and ended up making all the spines at once, and holding them aside for use as I made each body part later.

Two thirds of a dragon -
just needs three more legs
and of course a face :)
After that, the end bit of the tail was pretty straightforward, lining up green teardrop quills, and then lining the piece with blue and red.  The next tricky part was the foot.  How was I going to quill the feet?  Fill them in with tight circles?  I just didn't like the idea.  Seemed too 'heavy.'  I wanted something more lacy and more stylized.  Eventually I realized what I really wanted was something simple, and used open circles for the whole foot, and then tiny little teardrops for the claws.

Next update for dragon will hopefully show the finished piece!  I'm working just ahead of when these updates are posting, and so am pushing to have dragon all done by the end of the month.  And maybe, just maybe, dragon will be submitted to a contest ...

Image Credit:  My pix of my dragon.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Artist Interview: EverAfter Artisanry

Today's interview is with the talented force behind EverAfter Artisanry.  These lovely wire and bead flowers are her work, and she has agreed to share her projects, ideas, history, and more! 

When did you get interested in wire/beading art, and how did you learn? (books, youtube, other artists, etc.)

I was first interested in the aesthetic of wire-wrapped jewelry a very long time ago, probably over a decade ago, but it wasn't until the last few years that I actually thought I could attempt to do it myself. Probably I started first working with wire in a hobby way about three years ago. I would wrap large crystals with wire to turn them into Christmas ornaments and give them to friends as gifts. Around a similar time I was separately learning some beading techniques, just using plastic beads and elastic cords, as there was a stretch of time when I was going to raves and making what they call 'kandi', which is the word for the large colourful bracelets that a lot of kids wear at those parties. I learned some basic beading techniques from my friends at what we called 'kandi sessions', where we would go to someones house, sit around, and make those bracelets. At some point along the way I became interested in beaded embroidery, to embellish fabrics. Two years ago was the first time online that I saw a picture of a 3d beaded flower. I was looking for 2d flower patterns/techniques to bead flat onto fabric, but seeing these 3d ones fascinated me. I did a lot of learning through looking around for free articles on the web, and from watching youtube videos. When I am developing my own patterns for beaded flowers I will hunt around on the internet for articles regarding how to make those kins of flowers out of paper, and then adapt it to make the same shapes from my wire. Sitting down and just practicing has been essential to learning. Finding wire that is thin enough to get the seed beads onto, and strong enough to hold shape, using different gauges for different purposes, has been a trick of experimentation. I made my first bouquet at the end of last year/beginning of this year. I have made eight bouquets in total now, and I learn more each time.

What is your favorite project that you have made?

I would say that this piece is my favourite one, as it stands:…  I am one of those artists that tends to dislike their older work as mistakes become more apparent or I prefer my newer techniques, and, I think in many ways some of my newer pieces are better than this one, but, this is my favourite. I spent a good bit of time designing it through sketches after looking at calla lilly bouquets on pinterest, I was throughtful about my choice of colours as well. In this one, I also taught myself how to make calla lillies without a pattern, and I just have not done anything else on this scale. Its so large!

What do you like best about wire and beading art?

I think its a very expressive medium, though to be honest most forms of art have a wide range of expressive capacity. Honestly, the thing that I like best about it might just be that I seem to have some talent and that I authentically think I am producing good and creative work. I've messed around with other mediums, but, I think the stuff I'm doing at the moment is really bringing my skills together. I like a sense of accomplishing something.

Where do you get your ideas for new projects?

Well, I'll take inspiration at the moment by looking at bouquets using real flowers. There are a number of classic bouquet types, such as circle bouquets, cascading bouquets, even sheath bouquets. I have not made a sheath bouquet yet! I want to be able to create varied arrangements of flowers, arrangements in different sizes and different shapes, conveying different moods - so I'll find inspiration by trying to widen my portfolio, essentially. I also look into wedding trends, what flowers, colours, styles and shapes are popular. There is a website called Style Me Pretty that always posts the most beautiful floral designs, so, I find that very inspiring to look at.

What makes your projects different from other people's?

Well, in the scheme of things, there aren't actually all that many people who seem to make whole bouquets out of seed beads and wire, so, being in an area with so few artists working in the medium makes it easier to stand out, I think. I'm relatively new to this area, as I said earlier, I have only made eight bouquets - but I think my research into floral design helps me to create unique designs. Also I don't work from other peoples patterns, I develop my own. I don't do that by looking at other beaded versions of the flowers I am trying to produce, I'll do it by looking at the actual flowers themselves, and my looking into construction techniques for flowers in other mediums such as paper - to help me get realistic shapes. I think that kind of innovation might help me to stand out as well. At the moment I am really focusing on providing a wide range of colours/sizes and shapes, but into the future I think one thing that will help me stand out is I pay attention to fashion trends. I'm the sort of person who keeps up with couture runway designers, so, I think taking influence from couture catwalk trends will also help my work have a little something different.

How do you stay current with new techniques and trends in wire and beading?

To be completely honest, while I do produce good work (I feel) - in many ways I feel that I have a lot of 'mastering the basics' to go, when it comes to techniques. I'm not on the cutting edge of wire-work or beading techniques, not at all! I'm starting to get better and have subscribed to some mailing lists for beading websites, but this is an area I don't feel on top of, to be honest!

Do you have any special or long term goals for your art? A contest, or major project, or producing a certain number of type of pieces, or some such?

Well, I am an aspiring professional. The proper long term goal would be to sustain myself doing this, as my full time job. Shorter goals to get me to that point are going to include coming up with reproducible jewelry lines for sale. Also I've got some special projects lined up in the form of some planned styled photoshoots. I want to make matching jewelry and accessories for some of my bouquets, and have some photoshoots with models. One of these major projects involves making an embellished black veil, jewelry and bouquet for a gothic photoshoot. I'm going to incorporate swarovski crystal skulls into the bouquet, I think thats going to be something special.

Is there one aspect or technique about your art that you really want to learn?

I want to get much better at basic beadweaving techiques. In the future I also want to get into glass blowing and glass work, so that I can make my own beads, and so that I can incorporate my own glass flowers into my bouquets. I think that could be really special.

Where can people go to view/buy your art, and do you take commissions/do custom work?

I'm really only in the setup phase of turning this into a professional gig, and, I have not opened a shop yet or started selling my work yet. I want to come up with a jewelry collection before opening up some sort of shop. That said, I would absolutely love to work on custom bouquet projects, so if anyone is interested, then contacting me through facebook to arrange talking more would be fantastic.

My art can be viewed in the following spaces:

Many thanks to EverAfter Artisanry for agreeing to be interviewed!  If you'd like to be interviewed, leave a comment on this or another post!

Image Credit:  All images credit EverAfter Artisanry.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Paper Quilling

The Book of Paper Quilling - Techniques and Projects for Paper Filigree by Melinda Johnston.  Published by the Sterling Publishing Company, 1994.  144 pages.

I rate it ... excellent!

4.9 / 5.0

See my post about book reviews for details about my review criteria and biases.

Next to the last book I reviewed (Paper Art for Everyone) this is probably my favorite.  Or at least one of my favorites :)  It is one of the first of what I'd consider to be the "modern" breed of quilling books.  I have in my mind this idea that the "traditional" quilling books/kits/patterns were published in the 70's and 80's, and the "modern" quilling books generally in the 90's until today.  And there are other quilling books that I consider sort of "post-modern."  I call these "innovative."  These offer really new looks at techniques and projects (like typography, illustration, cross-cultural, and impressionistic work). 

Anyway, with that in mind, this is an excellent modern quilling book.

The book begins with a brief history of quilling, and then moves into the introductory/tutorial section.  The bulk of the subsequent pages are spent on projects and patterns, followed up by a gallery of wonderful quilled pieces.  Really, this is sort of my ideal outline for a "working" quilling book.

What I like:
First of all, the quality of the quilling the book is invariably high.  All the pieces are uniform, created with even tension and have a nice, even, lacy quality.  There are very small, regular center holes to each of the pieces.  The history section is accompanied by images of period quilling pieces, and the accompanying text includes several references, although more would have been welcome.  The "getting started" section is very well constructed, including showing how different paper widths effect the finished quill.  The "menu" of quilled shapes is comprehensive, and high quality.  Techniques include looping, husking, and weaving.  The bulk of the book, as noted, is filled with interesting patterns, each with detailed instructions.  Patterns include: wall art, wreaths, miniatures, ornaments, eggs, borders, gift tags, cards, magnets, coasters, baskets, jewelry, hats, and an incredible chess board with pieces.  At the end there are even simple motifs for kids to quill.  The gallery includes abstract quill art, as well as impressive, more traditional pieces.

What I like less:
Honestly, just the history section.  It needs a touch more of a scholarly approach with more citations and references for information.  That's it, really.

So if you like quilling, this is a must have, as far as I'm concerned.  And if you don't have it yet, you can get it used for less than $3.  With 144 pages of great quilling, it's a total steal.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Work In Progress - Dragon, Update One

My favorite wood handle
quilling tool and a few pieces
of the latest project.
I'm always in the middle of some relatively big quilling project.  It's usually something I'm creating for a gift, and so I want to do something really nice.  So I'll start the project, but will still quill other, smaller things when I need a change of pace, (or just a break from doing the same color over and over if filling in a large space.)

Pick a nice permission-free
book of designs.
At the moment, my 'big project' work in progress (WIP) is a dragon.  I've been wanting to quill a dragon for a long, long time, but didn't find any patterns.  I finally realized I was going to have to get clever, and find a drawing of a dragon both that I liked, and that could be expressed well with quilling.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, design and motif books are a great source of ideas.  I bought a motif book about dragons that was specifically permission-free, so I could do as I liked with the design and the finished product.  I spent a long while flipping through the book and trying to make a decision.  My friend likes designs with Asian elements, so I chose to narrow the search to Asian dragons.  And then I spotted a good one.  It was too small for what I wanted, but my copier cured that by expanding the image several hundred percent.

Dragon colored in with pencils.
Size of the dragon can be seen
using my grid, four
squares to the inch.
With my pattern in hand, the next issue was color.  I made several copies of my pattern, and then used my colored pencils to try different color schemes.  It didn't take me long to hit on one I really liked, with a neon/lime green for the body, yellow for the underbelly and face, and then a host of other colors like orange and blue for the spines, and purple for the claws.

I was pleased with the result, and figured that this had some great elements to express in quilling.  The only concern I had (and have) is the face.  Haven't gotten that far (yet).  Note that an arm and a leg are behind the main body, and that the tail is also flipped up to be up above part of the body and the lower part of the tail.  I wanted to quill this difference - make the dragon dimensional.  So I had to plan ahead which pieces needed to be quilled and then glued in what order.

Then came the fun part of just experimenting.  I didn't know what size paper I needed, so simply dug through the huge box of spare paper (that I'm sure every quiller has) found some stuff I had a lot of, and used that to figure out what size paper I was going to need to get a given size shape.  I figured the scales would be best expressed with teardrop shapes, and the underbelly, well, I just started following the lines.  As soon as I knew I had a good, repeatable size and form, I switched to the bright green (that I don't have a ton of) and the bright yellow, and started quilling away.  I immediately liked the effect, and was encouraged!  I'm always worried when I start a big project - will it "work" or just not look right.  I'm pretty sure the body of the dragon, at least is going to look just fine.

Image Credit:  My pix of my quilling, and a line art from the book Dragons - A Book of Designs, by Marty Noble.  Dragon line drawing is specifically free for use.  BUT my quilled version of the dragon is my own design, and I hold the copyright for that.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ideas For Quilling - Celtic Designs and Knots

As I mentioned in my post "Ideas and Inspiration for New Quilling" one of my sources for new ideas are books with designs and motifs around a given theme.  I'm going to post about a few of them here on the blog.  Today's theme is "Celtic."

This celtic cat is a purrrfect design
for expression with quilling.
Celtic designs seem perfectly matched for quilling, since they so often include spirals, knots, and other flowing forms.  I have picked up a selection of books over the years, and whenever I need some inspiration on this theme, I flip through them.

Design books might include CDs with images you can load right up on your computer for manipulation.  And the best part is that many of these sorts of resources are specifically created to be copyright-free.  (Always be sure to check the copyright - even Creative Commons licenses are usually not for commercial purposes.  But quilling them for your own personal use is often allowed.)

A piece I've copied and started
coloring in.  Making multiple
copies allows you to experiment
with colors without damaging
your book.
The designs will range from simple motifs, to stand-alone drawings, to complicated scenes.  Many of my Celtic motif books have smaller designs that seem ready to go for quilling, such as animals.  I've been known to take a nice line drawing, blow it up to the size I need using a copy machine, and then color it in with my colored pencils.  It's then easy to use as a pattern for quilling.

Instructions for how to
draw your own knots.
Some books will specifically have instructions for you to make designs yourself.  My book of Celtic spirals does not just have lot of examples, it shows you how to start with basic spiral elements and turn them into a chain of connected knots.  Something like this would be great inspiration for a picture border or the frame of a Celtic central piece, quilled or otherwise.  My only concern is getting all those spiral pieces of paper to intertwine so nicely ... I'll need to practice that :)

Have you done quilling along a Celtic theme?  Where did you get your ideas, and how did to go about making the complex curling forms?

Image Credit:  My pix of my own books.  They are: Celtic Spirals and Other Designs by Sheila Sturrock, Celtic Designs by Mallory Pearce, and Celtic Designs for Artists and Craftspeople by Dover Clip Art.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Quilling Archive - A Gallery of Quilling

Quilling inside of real seashells - made into ornaments.
I've done so much quilling - it's hard to keep track of who I gave it to, and where it is even in my own home.  But I've recently been struck with the idea that I want to document it all, so I've been rounding up quilling projects, old and new, and taking the best pictures I can.  I've been putting up the best of them at my newly created DeviantArt Gallery for quilling.

There is so much stuff - wall art, ornaments, miniatures, jewelry, and more.  You can see the evolution of my quilling through much of it, but since I started at the age of nine, by the time I was in high school I was pretty proficient.  Pieces like these shell ornaments, done when I was about fourteen, show solid technique and an eye for fun.  They even include tiny little pine cones.  I don't think I'd even imagine filling seashells and turning them into ornaments anymore, which is a shame.  :)   I don't even recall where I got the idea in the first place.

They are a bit beat up, with a few pieces missing, and a touch faded.  But not much, considering decades of sunlight, humidity, and moving from place to place.  I'll chalk that up to using a good acrylic sealant, and maybe using a bit too much glue.  I've always used a bit too much glue - one of those technique problems I have ...

How about you?  What was your first quilling project?  How do you preserve your quilling for the ages?

Image Credit - My picture of my own quilling, designed by me.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Finding Quilling in the World

Quilling design on the cover of a catalog!
I don't like sorting through the mail.  I'm not sure why, but I think it is because my mail generally consists of too many catalogs, the usual bills, and a plethora of general junk mailers.  So imagine my glee when I rifled through the mail and found this!  Quilling in the 'real' world!  (Note I'm not promoting the catalog in question, I'm just thrilled with the quilled cover!)

I absolutely love to see this.  I've been quilling for almost forty years now, and there were long, long stretches where nobody else I knew was doing it.  Nobody even knew what it was, nor had ever seen a single piece of quilling.  It was so out of vogue that I had trouble finding places to buy paper - no one was carrying it, and the companies I used as a kid were all going out of business.  The craft stores stopped carrying supplies.  It was fortunate that I had bought so much paper when I started, because it literally got me through years where I was unable to find any source at all (unless I wanted to make my own, which I was starting to consider).

Then things changed.  It was slow at first, but more companies popped up selling paper and quilling supplies.  More quilling books showed up in the bookstore.  And thank heavens for the internet.  I love the internet.  Suddenly I could find supplies in odd, niche places. And I could find other quillers.  There weren't many at the beginning of the net, but now there are so many more.
And the craft is really taking off in Russia, India, and Japan, just as it has always been around in places like the England, the Netherlands, and Australia (as far as I understand it.)  I'm so keen to see all the new ideas and techniques that come of this quilling renaissance.  Amazing pieces of work are being created all over the world. 
So I'm thinking seeing quilling on the cover of a catalog is a really good sign.  I think it shows the growing health of quilling as an art and a craft, as well as a new way to illustrate and design.  I hope to see more, and my eyes are always wide open and looking!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Artist Interview: Serenity Wire Designs

Beautiful copper and peridot
I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to post this interview with wire jewelry artisan SerenityWireDesigns!  Filled with wonderful swirls and curls, not to mention gemstones, each of these "tree of life" pendants is unique.  Keep reading to learn more about this artisan, their unique pieces, and where you can find them!

When did you get interested in wire art, and how did you learn?

"Well, I always admired wire art, but I never thought I'd be able to do it until a friend of mine started doing wire art. Sometimes I would give her a few suggestions here and there. She didn't take all of my suggestions. Some I really wanted her to do so I finally decided I should do my own. That way I don't need to wait for her to possibly do them or pressure her to make them. So I started doing my own! Once I decided I wanted to make my own pendants, I began doing my research. I'm more of a visual learner so I was looking up video tutorials on how to make them. I also observed my friend's pendants and many others on etsy. That was the most effective way I learned to make them, just by looking at the image of a wire item and figured out how they did it in my head."

What is your favorite project that you have made?

"It's kind of hard to say which one is one is my favorite. As I progress, I start liking my newer pendants more than the older ones. Not only that, but I like many for different reasons. But I guess if I had to choose, it would be my current one called "I'm not crazy." It's a tree of life pendant inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies, Alice in Wonderland, featuring the Cheshire cat."

What do you like best about wire art?

"I like that there's many ways to go about wire art. You can always do something detailed and complicated or nice and simple and still look great. You don't need to make something complex to make it stand out."

Where do you get your ideas for new projects?

"My ideas come from anything and everything.  Like many artists, I feel inspired from what I encounter. I'm a nature/animal and anime/manga lover so I try to incorporate that into my wire art a lot. I'm pretty obsessed with birds, though. I always have since I was little so I tend to make more bird-themed projects or at least try to."

A sampling of gorgeous wire and gemstone pendants in a variety of metals and styles.
The first is "I'm not crazy," mentioned in the text.  Note the wonderful spirals
used to make designs both serious and playful.

Do you have any special or long term goals for your wire art?

"A contest, or major project, or producing a certain number of type of pieces, or some such? I hope to continue doing wire art for the rest of my life. I definitely plan on doing contests and giveaways in the future but it is not set in stone yet as far as dates go. Most of my work is a 'one of a kind' and rarely reproduced. Therefore, I have been trying to start producing a few "made-to-order" items. I also hope to go to fairs and events to showcase or sell my work but that's farther into the future."

Is there one aspect or technique about wire art that you really want to learn?

"Not exactly. If I want to learn a specific technique I usually do my research right away and practice. Though quite frankly I try to not use other's techniques. I try to do my own unique techniques."

Where can people go to view/buy your art, and do you take commissions/do custom work?

"I have an etsy store where I have all of my wire jewelry and other wire artworks. You can go here if you're interested!: Serenity Wire Designs etsy shop.  I do take commissions/custom orders! I've had a couple of them in the past. If anyone wants something specific you can send me a message on my etsy or click the button that says 'Request Custom Order' You can also contact me in any of my other social platforms (dA, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest)"

Many thanks to SerenityWireDesigns!

Image Credit: All images are of art belonging to SerenityWireDesigns - Pieces are Earth Kingdom, I'm Not Crazy, The Air Nomads, Little Peri, and The Darnassus Tabard

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spiral Jewelry - Eyes Always Open

I was at a bead show, hunting through a box of sterling silver clasps when I found it - a beautiful, huge, toggle clasp that looked like a quilled, eight petaled flower.  I make a lot of gemstone jewelry, and my mind immediately began processing all the ways I could use the amazing clasp in a beaded design, with the clasp obviously meant to show in the front.

And then the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to highlight the clasp itself.  My mind came up with simpler and simpler designs.  Until I realized what I wanted was to not use the "bar" part of the clasp at all, and instead convert the "flower" part into a pendant.  So that's what I did, and hung the pendant on a simple chain.  (The "circle " portion of the clasp is bigger than a quarter, more like the size of a dollar coin.)  I get more compliments on this thing ...

Which is great.  I have a lot of jewelry with "spiral" or "coil" themes, which is no surprise at all.  And I also have a number of findings and components with that theme, as well, for making new jewelry.  I have a few new projects in mind, so keep your eyes on the blog for when they appear.

Image Credit:  My pic of my necklace. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Book Review: Quilling - Paper Art for Everyone

Quilling:  Paper Art for Everyone by Betty Christy and Doris Tracy.  Published by the Henry Regnery Company 1974.  205 pages.

I rate it ... excellent!

4.8 / 5.0

See my post about book reviews for details about my review criteria and biases.

This was my very first quilling book, and I adored it.  Still do.  As a child I read it about a million times.  Really.  You can see this copy is pretty beat up.  I was captivated by the pictures of old quilling, and the stories of the history of the craft.  The gallery of images of quilling projects was inspiring, even if in black and white.  And the tutorial for beginners was well thought out and easy to follow.  So my bias is often to judge other books by this one.  Does the book inspire me?  Is it factual and interesting?  Is it easy to use?  And the most important … does it make me want to run off and quill right now?

The book starts with a well thought out history of quilling.  The impression is that the authors did some serious legwork to find out all they could.  Some of their facts and assertions are backed up by references or citations, but others are not.  They do make some of their own claims based on personal research of items in museums, but these are often supported by pictures and dates of the individual pieces.  Overall the section reads very well, and comes off as both scholarly and interesting.

The second major section is the quilling tutorial.  It is very detailed with large images of possible shapes and how to make them.  The quality of the quilled shapes is high, and each coil is appealing.  The tutorial ends with a 'first project' - making a quilled daisy.  It demonstrates all the issues one might encounter dealing with a daisy, such as lining up the petals and having them all 'curve' in the same direction.  Then the book proceeds to give you more than a dozen ways you might employ a daisy as decoration or embellishment, allowing your mind to wander to consider all the ways quilling can be used.

The next section offers hints and tips, such as using watercolors or spray paints to color your own paper.  Of course, these days there are such a wide variety of papers available that gilding one's own paper with gold isn't really necessary, but might be fun and a way to create unique colors and textures.

The book winds up with an inspiring gallery of projects, some with line art drawings to assist you if you want to try to make one of them yourself.  I got to see the quilled church in real life as a kid, as it was 'on tour' with the artist (or an artist who made one exactly like it, and I was young so couldn't tell the difference) who was teaching quilling classes.

Overall, a great book.  Nearly perfect.  Inspiring, historical, and with a solid tutorial for a beginner.  Worth grabbing a copy if you are a collector, certainly, but also simply if you like good quilling books.  It's out of print, but I've spotted it used on places like Amazon for less than $2!  Well worth it, I say.

Image Credit:  My pic of my book on my shelf.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Quilled Poinsettia Flower Ornament

As I noted in my last post, there is a need for quilled Christmas tree ornaments for a "Quilled Ornament Charity Project."  Click the link for details about the project, and to see if you might be interested in participating!

I have decided to make two ornaments for the project.  The first is this quilled poinsettia flower ornament.  It is a simple design, but it looks really lovely now that it is all finished.  I thought I'd present a tutorial here of what I did, so anyone could make one.  Although I've done plenty of live presentations and workshops, this is the first written tutorial I've really done for quilling, so here it goes.

Here's what you'll need ...
  • Five full strips of dark red quilling paper, 1/4 of an inch wide.  
  • Five full strips of light red quilling paper, also 1/4 of an inch wide.  
  • One bright yellow strip, 4 inches long and 1/8 of an inch wide.  
  • One full strip of green with gold edging, 1/8 inch wide, and another half of a strip of the same color.
  • Glue, I use a good quality white craft glue.
  • Ideally, a clear acrylic spray to finish the ornament 
Roll the dark red strips and form them into 'leaf' shapes.  Glue the ends of the petals together to form a five-petaled flower, as shown.  Roll the light red strips and also make 'leaf' shapes.  Glue these together to form another five-petaled flower.

Now, you can see my light red flower is a bit smaller than the dark red flower.  This was intentional.  My dark red paper is very heavy, making a larger coil when it unwinds, and my light red paper is light, rolling tightly and not unwinding so much.  So even though the strips are the same length, the petals for the light red flower layer are somewhat smaller.  If you are dealing with paper that is the same weight for each color, you'll want to take some of the length off of your light red strips to achieve this effect.  I've placed a quarter in the image to give a sense of scale, both so you can see the difference in sizes a little better, and so you can see the size of the whole design.  It's more than four inches across at this point.

After the two 'flowers' have dried, stack the light red, smaller layer on top of the larger dark red layer and glue them together, staggering the petals.  You might have to be clever with small dabs of glue here and there to ensure the design is sturdy enough to hang from a tree, but doesn't look like it has glue all over it.

Then roll the bright yellow strip into a simple open circle quill and glue that to the center of the design.  This was where I'd originally intended to stop.  I added a silver jump ring at the top so it could dangle from the tree.  But then I took another look and decided the piece needed a but more 'oomph.'  So I chose to put a pair of leaves on it.  Roll the two green/gold gilded strips and make leaf shapes, as shown.  One will be smaller than the other, of course, because the strips are not the same length.  You might need to be careful about gluing them.  I had to add extra glue to the backs (the not-gold side) to make sure that they didn't 'spring out' like, well, springs, anytime the design was bumped or dropped.  (I put it through a few tests ...)

Then I glued them between the bottom petals of the flower, keeping them flat on the work surface.  They added just the extra interest and 'bling' I was looking for.  Then I coated the design with about three light coats of clear acrylic sealer.  I use Krylon Gloss UV protective clear coating for most of my quilling.  I like the way it tends to enhance the colors while adding a bit of a sheen.  Excellent in this case, athough I use the 'matte' finish rather than the 'gloss' in some situations.

Finished!  It's about five inches from top to bottom, and has a nice sturdy feel to it.  I hope it shows up well on a six foot tree, and has the durability to survive the whole auctioning process :)

Image Credit - My photos of my new poinsettia flower ornament!

Help with the Quilled Ornament Charity Project!

Carie Metcalf of Washington state is working on a quilling project for charity, and needs a bit of help from all the quillers she can reach.  She is creating a decorated Christmas tree for her local "Festival of Trees" with the theme "Quilling Around the World."  She needs 250 quilled ornaments of any kind, from everywhere, to put on the tree by October 15, 2015.  After the six-foot-tall tree is fully decorated, it will be auctioned off to support a hospital charity.

She particularly needs help from international quillers, but will gratefully accept a quilled ornament from anywhere.  For details on what she needs, and where and how to prepare and mail your quilling, email Carie at Carecat26 (at)  If you are a member of the North American Quilling Guild, you can also find details inside the Spring 2015 issue.

If you'd like to help out, but have never quilled before, you can check out this tutorial at, which shows how to make a simple quilled snowflake.  It even includes how to cut up a sheet of paper if you don't have access to special quilling paper!  Give it a try, and you may find you really love to quill, just like the rest of us :)  I'm also going to post the instructions for my own quilled Poinsettia Ornament that I will be sending to Carie, so keep your eyes open for that.

Image Credit:  Quilling Snowflake Decorations at

Friday, August 7, 2015

Looking for Artists to Interview!

Real flowers - always inspiring!
Are you an artisan who makes:  quilled items, origami, paper or gemstone jewelry, or the like?  Do you have a penchant for spirals and enjoy wrapping/coiling/folding?  Then I'd like to chat with you about a possible email interview!

Interviews are one feature I really want to have here on the blog.  I am looking for the opportunity to learn more about these arts and crafts as well as the people who do them.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be fascinated by the stories of quillers and other crafters, so what could be better than a bit of an interview, along with a few featured photos of completed work?

You don't need to be an 'expert' or have been doing your art for a long time.  I'd like to get email interviews from a range of people at different stages in their artistic careers, various ages, and in different places on the planet.

If you think you might be interested in being interviewed via email and having some of your work featured here on the blog, let me know by commenting on this post.  Make sure to give me some idea how I might email/contact/message you.  (If you are on DeviantArt you can always send a note to my profile there, SpiralArtisan.)  It would be helpful to send a link to a website/gallery/facebook page/whatever that has some of your art on it, so I know you are 'for real.'  After that, I'll email a list of questions, and request that you let me post about three pieces of your art, along with the answers to the questions.  And that's all there is to it!  I'll try to get posts up within a week of getting answers back, as long as life does not interfere.

And in the mean time, if you have a blog, website, or other resource you think I should be checking out, make sure to mention it!

Image Credit - My flowers, my photo.  A good one for a change :)

A Flowery Dilemma

Long ago I started work on a paper quilling border for a friend's wedding invitation.  It was a lovely invitation, in shades of ivory and pink, and I figured a bell and a number of flowers in the right shades would set it off nicely.  The project stalled for a while while I dealt with "life" and by the time I got back to it ... well, the couple wasn't a couple anymore.  (So this says something about the amount of time it takes me to do a project, or something about marriages.  Probably both :)

Anyway, here I show a smattering of the pieces I made for the quilled invitation.  I've kept them for more than a decade, wondering what to do with them.  It feels a little strange to use them for some other project when their original project ended so, um, poorly.  (Not that I'm superstitious.)  Still, I don't like to waste, and this is perfectly good quilling.

Ever been in this strange position?  How do you put the quilling to good use?  I'm thinking I'll break up the set completely and just use bits and pieces here and there ... it's the best idea that I have.

Image Credit:  My pic of my quilling.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ideas and Inspiration for New Quilling Projects

This iron-on book, mostly for use
as a source for embroidery patterns,
is also a great source for quilling ideas.
So you want to quill, and you don't know where to start.  Or maybe you've been at it a while and want some ideas for, well, finding new ideas.  Here is my list of places I go for inspiration.  Starting simple and easy with "kits" and ending with some more strange stuff like "fractals."  Hopefully you'll find something useful here!  Let me know if any of this works for you, and what your own unique ideas are for inspiration and imagination :)  !

Note:  If you use someone's pattern, or create a piece that is reasonably similar to theirs, then you should contact/acknowledge them if you end up posting pictures of that piece, or putting it up for sale, etc.  Kits, for example, are offered with the understanding that you might craft and then sell a piece exactly like it.  Permission isn't necessary in those cases.  But some art is utterly unique, and one should not take a copyright for granted.  When in doubt, ask the artist.  At the least, it is a common courtesy, and at the most it could be a legal requirement, depending on the specifics of your situation.

Quilling Kits:  The easiest place to start is to simply buy a good quilling kit.  There are several companies that make them, and they are relatively inexpensive.  (Some are listed on my sidebar.)  A quilling kit contains instructions and enough paper to complete a specific project.  Some are very basic, and others quite involved.  You can do the kit exactly as is, make your own adjustments and embellishments, or use it as inspiration for a completely different piece.

Some patterns are easy to adapt, just
start filling in with quills!
Patterns in Books:  Books about quilling generally have patterns for you to follow.  Books are more expensive than a single kit, and usually do not come with paper, so be sure you know what you are getting before you buy.  Some are for beginners, others are for the more advanced and do not have tutorials.  Many books follow a theme like "cards" or "flowers" so be sure the theme resonates with you.  Books often have great galleries of finished projects at the back that are great places to find inspiration.

Images of Quilling:  Need ideas?  It's time to just go browsing.  I can spend hours looking through places like "tumblr" or "pinterest."  There are no patterns of course, or step by step directions.  But it is a great way to spot new techniques, ways to blend colors, and more.  The best part is that browsing is free, except for all the time I spend doing it, anyway :)

Motifs and Designs:  There are resources that are specifically created to offer copyright free motifs, designs, borders, illustrations, and patterns around a theme.  Many of the motifs are bought to be used as clipart, sewing patterns, tattoo sources, and more - say quilling!  I'll be posting here on the site about a few of the motif resources I have to give you a better idea what I mean ...

Some patterns are a bit more complicated ... but
perfect for more involved projects.
Other Arts and Crafts:  This is a biggie.  Other arts and crafts can be excellent sources of ideas.  Quilting, embroidery, origami, beadwork, and so much more all have their own kits and patterns.  One may be just what you are looking for to adapt for a new quilling design.  And if you are also practicing that other craft, you may find innovative ways to combine them into something extraordinary.  Quilling and sculpture, for example, are perfect partners for amazing paper art in three dimensions.  My personal favorite craft to keep an eye on is stained glass!  Gorgeous colors and clear designs are the hallmark of that craft, and they are often easily exported to quilling. But not to be overlooked are more unusual art sources, say fractal art.  A place like has plenty of great pieces to spark your imagination.  Fractals already are a basic aspect of nature, so their repetition can fit in very well with quilled designs.

Nature:  The biggest biggie, really.  I can't draw very well, so I use my camera and take pictures of whatever I find compelling in the world.  Using my quiller's eye, I see things very differently than when I'm just randomly enjoying a simple walk.  Sometimes an image breaks down into a pattern hardly without trying, and other times its a struggle.  But like any artist, if you want to capture something amazing to share, sometimes there is no other way than the hard way!

What are your sources of inspiration for quilling?

Image Credits:  From the Butterfly Iron on Book by Barbara Christopher, sitting on my shelf.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Quilling Book Reviews: What I Like to See in a Book

I have a variety of quilling books since I like to collect any that are published in English.  I particularly love books that have examples of historical quilling, and/or include innovative designs.  I'm going to review some of these books here on the blog, and I figured it would be useful to make it clear what my biases are, and what does or does not appeal to me in a quilling book.  No two people will review a book the same way, so it's good to know where a person is coming from when they provide a review.

1.  So the first and most important thing to note is that any review I offer is obviously just my personal opinion.  While I consider myself reasonably practiced and knowledgeable, I am by no means the greatest quiller I've ever met.  Others with greater expertise may well have differing opinions to my own.

2.  Unless otherwise noted, all the books I'm reviewing are books that already exist in my collection.  I'd be more than happy to review a new book on request from an author/publisher, but I'll mention if that's the case, and if I got a copy of the book free for review purposes.

3.  Ideally, I like books that are collectable and/or useful.  By collectable, I usually mean something that makes a contribution to the world of quilling in some unique fashion - great patterns, unusual subject matter, historical perspectives, excellent gallery of projects, etc.  By useful, I mean a book that has designs, techniques or patterns that a quiller will actually use or draw inspiration from for their own art.  Some books are great for reading, and others you prop up in front of you as you are working.  With some books you can do both.

4.  Any images of quilling should be of high quality pieces.  There is a basic level of skill that needs to be achieved and demonstrated in a book for me to give it a high rating.  I understand that people have different levels of skill, but if you are publishing a book, that level needs to be high, and reflected in the work.

5.  I have a bias for color images of quilling.  I love to look at finished pieces, and so am often swayed by excellent photography of projects.  It's difficult to take pictures of dimensional pieces and I always enjoy when I see great shots of great art.  Still, I'm not going to give a lower rating to older books, and/or to shorter, less expensive works that clearly do not have color photography in their technology or budget.

6.  Historical or academic writing should be backed up with references.  If you say "Quilling started in whatever year" I want to see a reference for that fact.  Any specific factual information has a source that needs cited.  If the information is simply out of the author's head, or a matter of personal communication, then that should be noted.

7.  A quilling book does not need to include a tutorial for quilling, unless that is part of the point of the book.  There are many beginners books that will need tutorials and how-to's, but there are advanced books that certainly do not require them.  If a tutorial is included, it needs to be comprehensive and easy to follow.

8.  Any patterns also need to be easy to follow, with step by step instructions and preferably lots of pictures to help you along.  There should always be a final shot of the finished project.

9.  A book should achieve any goal it sets for itself.  If it is for beginners, then it should form a solid resource for those just starting out.  If it is intended to show projects that can be completed quickly, then there shouldn't been anything too complicated or large included.  If it is designed to showcase innovative work, then the projects and techniques should be particularly unusual or unique.

So there are my criteria and biases related to quilling books!  Hopefully that will help form some good benchmarks for reviews.  Looking forward to going through my library!

Image Credit:  My photo of a pile of my own books.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quilled Earrings, Simple Enough to Actually Wear

I don't usually make jewelry out of paper, since it is so easily damaged by moisture or crushing.  Quilling takes so much time and effort, it seems like a waste to make something that will get bashed up.  But, I do make earrings if they are of a simple design, since then if they get munged up I can go right ahead and make a new pair without too much fuss.  This pair was strengthened by an extra border of paper around each petal, as well as a few good coats of clear acrylic spray over the whole design.

Do you make paper quilled jewelry?  What are your tips for strengthening it and keeping it looking good for as long as possible?

Image Credit:  My earrings, my picture, my pattern.

The Blog - Stories, Stones, and Spirals

(Updated August 7, 2016)

Ah, the very first post has to highlight my favorite little butterfly.  She now finds herself in the banner for this blog, and she is extremely surprised about that.  The butterfly is in fact about 2.5 inches long, and has a three dimensional quality, with the wings up off the surface.  The pattern goes all the way back to 1977, from Artistry in Wood.  I have a lot of these older patterns, "ancient" books, and more, since I've been doing paper quilling since I was nine years old.  And it's been a while.

Here on this blog I hope to share lots of thoughts, history, ideas, patterns and more, for all sorts of crafts.  I love paper quilling and making jewelry, but I also make silk flower arrangements, do embroidery, create greeting cards, and, well, anything else that strikes my fancy.  Especially if it includes glitter.  I love comments, so please share your own ideas and thoughts there!

This butterfly was originally intended to be one of a trio, but the others have yet to be created.  And it's been about, oh, twenty years that this lil' lady has been around by herself.  So we'll see about that ...

Image Credit:  My butterfly, my picture.  Pattern: Artistry in Wood, 1977.