The History of Quilling

The Story

Quilling is the art of rolled, shaped, and glued paper that results in creating a unified, decorative design. The name quilling is thought to come from the origin of the art; birds’ feathers, or quills, were used to coil the strips of paper around.

The art of quilling has been around for centuries, with a remarkably varied historical background spanning across continents. The birth of quilling is a bit unclear, with opinions regarding this differing depending on the source. Popular opinion suggests that it was first seen in ancient Egypt, where certain filigree-type art inspired more modern quilling years later.

Quilling has persevered through time, most notably making its mark throughout the eastern world. During the Renaissance, nuns and monks would roll gold-gilded paper trimmed from books to adorn religious objects, mimicking costly gold filigree. In later years, quilling continued to be practiced throughout Europe as it caught on as a leisurely activity for affluent women. They would adorn objects such as picture frames, baskets, and jewelry boxes.

Today, quilling is resurfacing again as a more accessible, affordable hobby for people of every age and background.

 

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The Process

People practicing quilling today are afforded many options for tools and an array of different weight, quality, and thickness of paper. There are a few ways to approach beginning a design. For our line, we assign each artist one design for the most efficient workflow. This way, she can get to know the design and create a consistency in her work and our final product. We begin each card with a preliminary drawing of what the card will be. Using a slotted needle tool, we ‘thread’ laser-cut strips of kishu paper (a high-quality, Japanese paper) through the tool and coil it around to create a tight coil. Each shape that makes up a card begins as a tight coil. From there, the coil is relaxed and molded with fingers or tweezers until the desired shape is attained, and is then glued down onto the card. This process is repeated again and again, until the quiller has layered on the entirety of the final design.