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!