Saturday, September 26, 2015

Poinsettia Flower Ornament Revisited

As you know I posted the directions for my Poinsettia Flower Ornament here on the blog a few weeks ago.  (I had also created directions for my Halloween Sampler, and posted that up at Craftsy for a fee.)  It occurred to me that the directions for the simple poinsettia flower might be a nice thing to post for free, so that's what I did.

I am astonished to say that the Poinsettia Flower Instructions have been downloaded from Craftsy more than a hundred times already!  This means a couple of things to me - people really like free patterns (of course) but also, that there is a demand for really simple quilling patterns.  I am surprised, actually, but it has been ages since I was a beginner at quilling.  I'm having a little trouble imagining what it is like ... especially since there was no internet nor computers when I first started.  I learned all my material from books or from patterns I purchased.

These days, of course people are turning to the internet before anything else.  Why buy a potentially expensive book when you can download patterns for free, and get all your instructions on free videos from various sites?  Seems like a smart way to start and see if you like a craft before making more of an investment in time and money.

So I'll be thinking of ways to post other, small, free patterns and hope they are as useful and popular as the poinsettia!  I wish I had written down the directions for my candy cane when I made it.  I'll have to be more thorough when I make new pieces - someone else might want to make them, too!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Halloween Sampler - Projects #2 and #3

Here is the next installment of the Halloween Sampler Instructions!  This covers projects 2 and 3 (out of nine).  I've already posted the general instructions, the mat board cutting instructions, as well as project #1 and a bonus project!

First post -  Halloween Sampler
Second post - General Instructions and Mat board
Third post - Bonus Project and Project #1

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 #2: Frightening Ghost

- light grey, 9 strips at 6” long (body)
- light grey, 2 strips at 4” long (body)
- light grey, 1 strip at 10” long (head)
- light grey, 2 strips at 8” long (arms)
- black, 2 strips at 2” long (eyes) – 1/16” narrow strip
- black, 1 strip at 4” long (mouth) – 1/16” narrow strip
- grey, 4 strips at 6” long (fog)

Take the nine strips of light grey 6” long and make long diamond shapes. Take the two strips of light grey at 4” long and make two teardrops. Also make teardrops out of the two 8” long light grey strips, curving the teardrops slightly at the ends. Make another teardrop from the 10” long light grey strip. Glue these together as shown to form the ghost.

For the face, create three circles from the narrow black strips, and use the larger circle for the mouth. Glue these onto the ghost.

For the ‘fog’ use 4 strips of a slightly darker color of grey. Make very long “S” coils from each of these. Glue two of the “S” shapes together as shown for the lower border, and two other “S” shapes together for the side border. Glue these together where they touch.

The ‘fog’ is of course optional. If you are choosing to put your projects into the sampler, then you may want the fog to help ‘frame’ the projects. Each of the four projects in the corners of the mat board have an element that helps to frame them.

Glue these pieces into the mat board, right column bottom square.

Project #3: Jack-O-Lantern

- orange, 1 strip at 14” (large pumpkin)
- orange, 2 strips at 16” (large pumpkin)
- orange, 2 strips at 18” (large pumpkin)
- light brown, 1 strip at 4” (large stem)
- olive green, 1 strip at 3” (leaf)
- olive green, 1 strip at 2” (corkscrew vine)
- black, 2 strips at 4” long (eyes)
- black, 1 strip at 3” long (nose)
- black, 3 strips at 2.5” long (mouth)
- olive green, 2 strips 3” (leaves)
- olive green, 2 strips at 4” (leaves)
- olive green, 2 strips at 4” (vines)
- light brown, 1 strip at 2” (small stem)
- olive green, 1 strip at 1” (corkscrew vine)
- orange, 1 strip at 4” (small pumpkin)

The pumpkin is made of bright orange, five strips, one at 14", two at 16", and two at 18". Take the 14” strip and make an ‘eye’ shape. Take the other long orange strips and make crescent shapes. Glue the shorter crescents to the eye shape, and then glue the longer crescents to form the outside of the pumpkin, as shown.

The stem is light brown at 4" long, formed into an asymmetrical square shape. Make the leaf shape from the olive green 3" strip. Use a toothpick or quilling tool to help form the corkscrew vine from the 2" of olive green. The face is made of black strips, all triangles, with eyes of 4" long, nose 3", and three teeth at 2.5" each. Glue together as shown.

The vines are long “S” shapes, each 4" of olive green. Make all four leaves, and glue the smaller 3” leaves closer to the middle of the vines. Glue the longer 4” leaves to the ends of the vines.

The small pumpkin is a somewhat flattened circle made from one 4" bright orange, strip. It has a tiny square stem made from the 2" light brown strip, and a coil of 1" olive green.

As you see from the photo, the ‘vines’ and the small pumpkin are not attached, but are separately glued to the white background. The jack-o-lantern is framed nicely by the vines. Glue these pieces into the left column, into the square at the bottom left corner.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: Paper Quilling for the First Time

Paper Quilling for the First Time by Alli Bartkowski. Published by Sterling Publishing Company, 2006. 112 pages.

I rate it … very good!


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

If I had an adult friend who was interested in learning quilling, this is probably the book I would get for them.  This book almost has it all, and what it does have is nicely photographed, well detailed and a pleasure to use.  I don't think I'd use it for a young person (projects are more functional rather than just fun), but I think the book is well suited for an adult.

What I liked:

This book is laid out a little differently than others, focusing on beginners and their questions.  Each section (such as Section 2, The Basics) is motivated by subheadings in the form of questions (such as How do I make a folded rose?).  This lends a relaxed feel to the book that I think would appeal to a beginner.  The quality of the quilling is very good throughout the book.  The tutorial shows examples of good and poor quilling, and what can cause problems.  All the necessary techniques are illustrated, and then some.  Pictures are plentiful, and instructions are clear.

What I liked less:

I really missed a history section, but you know my bias there - I just think a beginner's book needs some history.   I thought the projects got a little too difficult too quickly, but this is a minor point.  The projects were not as appealing to me as some other books, but given I'm not a beginner, the book isn't targeted to me.  I thought some of the projects needed more detailed line drawings of the actual patterns.  The gallery of projects at the back is nice, but I wanted more.  (I always do :)

Overall, I'd recommend this book for an adult beginner.  As a collector I'm glad to have it on my shelf, and there are a few tidbits here and there that help spark the imagination even of a seasoned quiller.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Halloween Sampler - First Projects

As promised, I'm going to post the instructions for my Quilled Halloween Sampler here on the blog.  This is the third post; time to get into the projects!

First post -  Halloween Sampler
Second post - General Instructions and Mat board

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.

BONUS Project:  Quilled Candy in Wrappers

- white, 6 strips at 4” long (wrapper)
- white, 3 strips at 8” long (candy)
- bright yellow, 1 strip at 8” long (candy)
- light red, 1 strip at 8” long (candy)
- purple, 1 strip at 8” long (candy)
- orange, 1 strip at 8” long (candy)
- black, 1 strip at 8” long (candy)

Here is an easy project to start off that’s not shown in the sampler – quilled candy in ‘wrappers.’  Start by stacking (right on top of each other, NOT end to end) the red, yellow, and white strips all at once.  The white strip should be on the ‘bottom.”  Roll the three strips up all at the same time.  The three colors swirl together as you roll them.  Make sure the white ends up on the ‘outside.’  Form a circle (the colored strips might need to be trimmed to hide them under the white.) 

Make two triangles with 4" of white paper each.  Curve one side.  Glue these with the curved side out, to either end of the circle.  Repeat with a stack of green/purple/white, and then a stack of orange/black/white.

Project #1:  Flying Bat

- black, 8 strips at 6” long (wings)
- black, 1 strip at 9” long (body)
- black, 2 strips at 2” long (ears)
- black, 3 strips – from ¾” long to 1.5” long (small bats)
- bright yellow, 1 strip at 10” long (moon)

First make eight circles with the 6" black strips.  Form these into triangles, but curve one side of each.  Glue these together as shown to form two wings. (Each wing has three triangles pointed ‘up’ and one pointed ‘down’.) 

For the body, take a 9" black strip and make a teardrop.  Take 2" black strips and form them into long triangles for the ears of the bat.  Glue the pieces together. 
Take three black strips that are from 3/4" to 1.5" and make "M" shapes (other bats).  Use a 10" strip of bright yellow in the form of a crescent to serve as the Moon.

Glue these pieces into the mat board – right side middle square.

Image Credit - My pix of my quilling, my designs

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Quilled Halloween Sampler - Starting the Directions

Empty mat board ready for quilling!
As promised in my first post on my Halloween Sampler, I'm going to post the instructions for the Sampler here on the blog.  It's a lot of material, so it will take several posts to get it all up.  No time like the present!

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.

Here's where it starts … General Instructions

The rest of the projects in the Sampler assume you have read and followed all of these instructions.

Overall, the level of this tutorial is “Beginner” with some elements that are “Intermediate.”  If you are a “Novice” (that is, if you have no experience with quilling) you will first need to find a book or online tutorial that shows you how to quill, and how to make all the standard shapes, such as roses, coils, off-center quills, and more.  Practice making these shapes and doing some basic projects to learn about how to use the materials, etc.  Then you can proceed to use these instructions.  These projects are listed in order of increasing difficulty.

Photographs are not to scale!  They are only for reference!  Some are close-ups and some are zoomed out!  They do not show the exact size of the intermediate or finished projects.  So do not print them out and quill over them!  Make the shapes as directed in the instructions, and glue them together in the ways shown in the pictures.  You can get an idea of the size by looking at the front cover (the image from the last post of the whole sampler).  Each of the boxes, including the black outline, is 3x3 inches tall and wide.  The black lining takes up ¼” on each side of the box, and the top and bottom.  So the white space inside each box is 2.5”x2.5” on each side.

This tutorial assumes you have access to a variety of colored quilling papers, (but feel free to make substitutions for color as you like when you go along).  When not stated, the width of the paper is the standard 1/8 of an inch.  Other papers used are 1/4 inch wide paper and 1/16” (inch) wide paper.  You will need scissors and white craft glue.  Tweezers and a quilling craft board with pins would be very helpful.  If you wish to make the mat-board for the whole sampler, you will need the materials listed in that section.

Length of Strips:
Remember as you are working through this project, and all the other projects, that the length of strips listed may not work perfectly for you.  Some people roll quills tighter or looser than others, and so need a bit more or less paper to get the same size in the final piece.  Also, some paper is thicker than other paper.  Be prepared to experiment to get the results you want.  Use the lengths of paper suggested as a guide that you can detour from whenever necessary.

Make and Use What You Like:
Some of the projects have additional pieces you can make, like the ghost has a swirled ‘fog,’ the vampire fangs have a thorny rose, and the pumpkins have coiled vines around them.  You can choose to make all the pieces and frame your sampler together, or just make the pieces you like and use them on cards, gifts, and whatnot!

Displaying Your Projects - Creating a Mat Board

- One piece 12”x12” cardstock, medium grey (top)
- One piece 12”x12” cardstock, white (bottom)
- Black quilling strips, 1/4" wide

As I mentioned, you can use these designs and motifs in a variety of ways. I decided to put all of mine into small 3x3 inch 'vignettes' and show them off together as a “sampler”. To do this, I purchased two pieces of good 12x12 inch cardstock, one in a medium grey (top layer) and the other in white (bottom layer).

I cut 3x3 inch holes in the grey cardstock, measuring a one-inch margin all around the outside, and a half-inch between each of the 'windows.' I glued the cardstock pieces together, and then lined the inside of each of the 3x3 inch windows with 1/4" width strips of black quilling paper so it would look like a double mat.

If you like, you can frame your project when it is complete. I suggest a shadowbox frame with at least ¾” of clearance between the background and the glass. The rose sticks out about that far, and you don’t want to squash it or any of the other elements that have relief.

I found a standard 12”x12” black shadowbox frame with an inch of depth inside, and used that.

Image Credit:  My pix of my mat boards, my design.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ideas for Quilling - Designs and Motifs of Ancient Mexico

Books on designs and motifs.
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.  My theme for today is "Ancient Mexico."  In this case the motifs are from the native cultures of that part of North America.

The classic calendar - I'd love to
quill it, but just haven't
quite figured out how, yet.
I lived for 14 years in southern Arizona, and came to appreciate and enjoy a lot of the native art from both that part of the US and of Mexico.  I've always wanted to spend some time quilling some related art of my own, but just haven't focused on it yet.  There always seems to be something more pressing.  Still, I have the books as well as so many pictures taken during those years, and so I can't say I don't have quite a bit of inspiration right at hand.

A smaller motif perfect for
a quilling project.
At first I was concerned that all the designs would be too difficult.  The initial designs I encountered were very complex - like the Aztec calendar.  I thought designs like this were amazing, but I didn't want to quite commit to figuring out how to quill a highly involved scene (at least back then).  But as I looked, I eventually started finding smaller motifs, and began to find a bit more practical inspiration.

These native motifs are not quite the same as say Celtic ones, where you have a lot of ready made knots and spirals right there to follow.  Instead, these designs have other elements, such as dots, feathers, and plenty of curving shapes.  They are really perfect for quilling, just in a different way.  I'm planning to quill the motif above.  I can envision places for fringe, feathers, long coils of paper, and more.  Now I just have to figure out what all the colors should be :)  And I'm not giving up on quilling the calendar.  Just ... maybe not right now.

Image Credit:  My pix from my books.  They are:  Ancient Mexican Designs by Gregory Mirow, and Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico by Dover Clip Art.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Quilled Halloween Sampler

I've been considering making a sampler of quilled Halloween projects for a long time.  I love Halloween, and often use small designs and motifs on place cards, tags, ornaments, wall art, and more.  I've never bothered to actually write down any of my designs before - so they come out differently every year, AND I have to spend extra time and paper trying to figure out what I did the last time around :)

So this year I spent the time and effort to record all my paper widths, lengths, and shapes as I worked.  I also took a few pictures of the intermediate stages as I went along.  I realized when I was close to finished that I might not be the only person who would like to use the directions.  So to make up some of the resources I used, and to cover some of the time (it took a loooong time to write this up), I decided to post all the instructions for a fee over at Craftsy.  So if you are in immediate need of some ideas for Halloween, look no further!  You can download all 16 pages of Halloween packed PDF for $3.99.

OR if you can wait, and don't have the extra $$, then keep your eyes here on the blog.  I'm going to post all the instructions in pieces right here between now and Halloween!

Here's the blurb from over at Craftsy:

The Quilled Halloween Sampler Instructions will tell you how to make nine different small Halloween themed projects (plus a bonus project!). The 16 pages are packed with pictures and ample details of paper quilling for you to recreate the sampler, or use it to come up with your own scary ideas!

These spooky designs can be used together to form a framed Halloween sampler group, or they can be used separately on greeting cards, gift tags, place settings, ornaments, wall art, or in whatever way suits your fancy! You can be creative and detour from the exact directions whenever it suits you and your project needs.

Some of the projects are very quick, while others are a little more involved, so you can fit the projects to the time you have available. Most of the designs are suitable for someone who knows the basics of paper quilling (beginner), while a few others are suitable for an intermediate level of quiller.

Most of the designs and motifs will be familiar, like bats and pumpkins, while others will be more unusual, like vampire fangs and skeleton keys. Let your creepy side out and enjoy some Halloween fun with the Quilled Halloween Sampler!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: Quilled Borders and Motifs

Quilled Borders & Motifs by Judy Cardinal.  Published by Search Press, 2008.  48 pages.

I rate it ... good!


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

This is a sturdy little (48 page) quilling book that introduces a host of small designs in many themes (i.e. baby, wedding, holiday) for use in a variety of situations (i.e. cards, frames, ornaments).  I do not have a long review for this book - regrettably, as I'll note later, the publisher made a bad decision in reproducing much of the content within another book.

What I liked:
The huge variety of little projects and designs that can be used alone or together to make wall art, greeting cards, frames for invitations and announcements, and so much more.  I think this would be a good book to show to children to get their ideas flowing.

What I liked less:
As noted, the publisher made a bad decision (in my opinion) and included ALL of the motif section inside of another book (Beautiful Quilling Step-By-Step, which I'll review another time.  It has material from several books, in fact.)  This decision by Search Press makes me nervous when looking at any of their books.  I have to ask myself, "Do I already own this in another form?".  The work is reprinted exactly, page for page, materially damaging the usefulness of both books.  It's a shame since it robs each book of originality and usefulness.  Another issue with the book is the uncertain quality of the quilling - for example, the quilled heart within the tutorial on page 14 shows uneven tension (visible in several of the projects in the book, as well.)  The book has few actual patterns for the designs, making more difficult for beginners, and a bit less intuitive, I think.

As a collector of quilling books, I am happy to have it in my collection.  But for the current going price of $10 or so, I'd probably go for the larger Beautiful Quilling book instead of this one, were I choosing between the two.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Quilled Holiday Ornaments for the Charity Project

In the end I quilled three ornaments for the "Quilled Ornament Charity Project" (even though when I made the poinsettia, I said I'd only make two).  I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to make snowflakes, since I am assuming Carie is going to get sent a ton of snowflakes.  So I concentrated on other designs that I thought would look good in a green tree.

The candy cane idea came to me as I was considering how I could use white paper for something other than snow.  I made the entire candy cane out of white, and then for the stripes, I just wound one long red strip around the piece and glued the ends down.  To add some interest, I embellished with a sprig of holly.  The star is made only from triangles, circles and eye shapes in white and yellow.  Hopefully it doesn't look too much like a snowflake :)  I didn't want to make it solid yellow, though, since I thought that would been a little boring to look at ...

So off they go to their new home, to be placed on a tree and auctioned off for charity.  Remember that the deadline for ornaments is October 15!  There is still plenty of time to quill a piece or two and send it off.  Shipping is cheap because they hardly weigh anything at all :)

Image Credit:  My pic of my own ornaments.  Designed by me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Work in Progress - Dragon, Update Three, Final!

My dragon is finished (as of August 27th)!  I was able to get him matted and framed under glass.  It took a decent shadow-box style frame, (10"x10" with an inch of clearance) since the dragon is about 3/4" of an inch thick.

Dragon has been entered in a CONTEST!  Please VOTE for him!  He is project #14 on facebook at Little Circles at  All you need to do to vote is to 'like' the dragon.  Voting only goes on for a few days, September 2-4, 2015 so please skip on over there soon!  Check out the competition, it's pretty fierce.  Some beautiful pieces of quilling!  If dragon gets enough votes to get into the top ten, he goes on to the next round of judging!

Gorgeous dragon face!
So, since the last update, I finished up the three missing legs, and then started on what I knew was going to be the hardest part - the face.  I spent a lot of time planning out exactly how I was going to make each quill for the eyes, nose, teeth, and then the embellishments like the crown of 'fire' and the whiskers.

It was in the face and crown that I strayed the furthest from my colored line art.  The crown is formed from layered curls instead of wisps of colored paper.  I liked this look better - it was lacy and seemed more substantial than what the line art might have called for.  Also the eye and the area around it should have had some blue and green, but I chose to keep the color scheme consistent with orange, so it would grade nicely into the 'fire.'

Side shot of dragon, showing his dimensional nature
The body, face, and tail are all on different levels
and so dragon is almost 3/4 of an inch thick.
I made about two dozen teeth trying to get the exact shapes and sizes that I wanted to fit nicely into the mouth.  The whiskers took an hour on their own, as I searched for just the perfect shade color, and experimented with different techniques for the shapes.  I made several eyes of different shapes, as well.  Some made my dragon look like he'd had too much coffee!  The final choice has him looking forward, and he seems much less startled :)

Then, with all the pieces in hand, I finished them up with spray and proceeded to glue them together.  This step also took a long time, since this dragon is very dimensional.  It is assembled in four different levels.  I had to place pegs onto the back of some of the levels to support them, with a few pegs doubled up to give them enough height.  Then I glued the lower half of the body to the top, and he was finished!

And now he is to be shipped off to his forever home!  It is always bitter-sweet to say goodbye to a project, since I get so attached to them.  But as usual, when I have in mind to give a project away, it never feels right until that person has received the gift.  Then ... well ... next project!

Image Credit:  My pix of my dragon!