As with any job, it is always nice to take some time to develop skills that make you better at your job. In the case of those working here in the Preservation Lab, we like to take opportunities like this a couple of times a year. One of those times is often around the holidays after our student employees have gone home for the semester. You may recall last year we worked on a new (to us) sewing technique, the icicle stitch. This year we settled on quilling, which requires a lot of dexterity to manipulate the paper strips and careful, precise gluing.

Monks & nuns practiced the art of quilling by using strips of paper trimmed from gilded edges of books. In Europe, “gentle ladies of quality” practiced the art of quilling, because it was thought to be “not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions.” (From Wikipedia: Quilling.)  We can assure you that quilling taxes both the mind and the disposition!

Doing a simple search for quilling on Google, Flickr, or even YouTube, will result in a wide variety of images both extravagant and simple. Instead of purchasing special quilling tools, we used what we had. We made our own quilling tools to twirl the strips of paper by using a cork & a sewing needle with the end of the eye snipped off (and it works pretty well!)  We used the DIY Quilling Tool tutorial found here.

homemade quilling tool

We played with different types of papers to see how well each one quilled. We had text-weight copy paper, card stock, paper with a shimmery coating, etc.  We originally had planned to use a paper shredder to make our quilling strips, but none of us had a shredder that made strips our desired width (3 mm).  We ended up cutting some strips on the guillotine, but mostly we chose to use store-bought quilling paper from a craft supply store.

Though we discovered a love-hate relationship with quilling, you can find many examples of people who love quilling by searching the internet.  One of our favorites is the extremely talented Yulia Brodskaya. In hopes that we would love quilling as much as Yulia, I have to say that it is definitely an art that takes much practice and patience. We have all decided that we will be keeping our day jobs, but enjoyed our day learning about this fabulous paper art.