May 04 2009

5 Quilling Tips Every Beginner Should Know

Published by at 8:32 pm under Quilling Tips

I first learned about quilling in 1973BI (that’s Before Internet —LOL!) when I happened upon an instruction book in a local craft store and was instantly hooked.  There was very little information available at the time on this wonderful art and certainly no classes.  So I did what any self-sufficient crafter did in those days, I picked up bits and pieces here and there and taught myself.  It would have been nice, however, if I had known a seasoned quiller who could have shared her experiences with me.  It is in this spirit that I offer you these five quilling tips. 
  1. Your rolls and scrolls will be unique to you.  They will not look exactly like mine (or anyone else’s).  Everyone uses different tension when they curl the paper strips resulting in variations in the coils and scrolls.  Not only that, but your own quills will vary from each other depending on your mood and how you feel at the time.  To see for yourself, compare coils that you made when you were tired or frazzled with those made when you were relaxed and rested.  You’ll notice a big difference.  A great quilling tip is to prepare all of your strips for a project at one time.  This allows you to roll your strips one right after the other, producing quills with more consistent tension.
  2. All quilling paper is not created equal.  You would think that one package of 1/8″ wide paper would be the same as another, but that’s not the case.  As we all know, paper comes in different weights and even among those of the same weight, some papers simply have more “body” than others making them more suitable for quilling.  The weight of the paper used to create the strips will vary slightly between manufacturers and even within the same manufacturer.  In fact, there is one manufacturer out there selling quilling strips made from thin card stock that is very difficult to work with since it cracks and splits.  If you are having trouble, before you give up out of frustration, try a strip of paper from a different company.  You may find that the problem with your coils is with the paper and not you. 
  3. Quilling paper has a “right” and a “wrong” side.  If you examine a strip of quilling paper, you will notice that one side has smooth edges that curve down ever so slightly.  The other side has edges that slightly curve up. This is because the paper cutting blade pushes down on the paper as it cuts.  The smooth side is considered the right side of the paper and you will want to keep it to the outside of your coils and scrolls.  This difference is especially noticeable when joining several strips together end-to-end to form a large tight coil for use as a base, etc. 
  4. Neatness counts — control the glue.  Nothing will ruin the look of a piece of finished quilling more than seeing bits of glue all over it or gobs of glue under it where it is attached to its backing.  It only takes the tiniest drop to seal the end of a coil to itself or to attach one coil or scroll to another as you build your design.  A bit more adhesive may be needed to attach the paper quilling to the box or frame back, but not much.  Clean hands are an absolute must when working with paper filigree and you’ll want to wash your hands before starting any quilling project.  The best quilling tip I’ve found to help keep glue off the fingers is to have a wet paper towel handy to wipe your fingers on as you quill.  Also, keep hand lotions to a minimum so the oils don’t discolor the paper.   
  5. Use the quilling tool that works for you.  There are many commercial tools available for curling paper, both slotted and straight needle types.  A round toothpick or corsage pin can also be used.  As for me, I prefer the most basic tool of all — my fingers.  Keep in mind that quilling tools are just that, tools to help you create the desired coil or spiral.  By all means, follow the instructions that come with the tool or those you find on the internet, but if the directions just don’t seem to work for you, don’t hesitate to try using the tool in a slightly different way.  The instructions that came with my first slotted tool told me to curl the paper toward me.  I tried many times, but my fingers struggled with that motion.  However, when I rolled the paper away from me it felt right and that is how I use that tool today.  If after several tries you find that you still have trouble using a tool, it is perfectly OK to put it away and try a different one for curling your paper.  All tools are not for all quillers.  You will soon find the one that is right for you.
If you have any questions about these quilling tips, just ask.  I’d love to hear from you.
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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “5 Quilling Tips Every Beginner Should Know”

  1. Innaon 03 Jun 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you very much for your tips! I’ve been quilling for more than a year now, but still learned a lot from you, especially about paper. This is even more important to me, since I cut strips myself.
    Thanks again and looking forward to see new posts in your great blog.

  2. Philippaon 11 Feb 2010 at 11:43 am

    I completely agree with all these tips! I think they will be really useful for beginners – what a really good idea to post them here! My own tip would be to allow coiled strips to ‘relax’ and unwind a little on their own before gluing them – it took me months to get over the compulsion to keep them pulled in tight (must be my controlling nature!!) Great blog – many thanks!

  3. Charlotteon 11 Feb 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Hi, Philippa,

    Thank you for stopping by and sharing your tip! It is indeed important to give the coil time to relax before gluing and pinching it into shape. In my classes when my students have a problem with their coils not relaxing (usually due to rolling it too tightly), I suggest that they enclose the coil in their hands and gently “huff” into them (like they are trying to warm their hands in the winter). The little bit of moisture helps the coil to unwind a bit.

  4. Philippaon 11 Feb 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Great idea! I often find coils are reluctant to relax out fully when made with two different colour strips which have been joined together – the centre part (first strip) never seems to want to uncoil! I will certainly try the “huff” technique! Thanks.

  5. simoneon 27 Dec 2011 at 2:06 am

    I purchased my daughter a quiling kit for beginners. As she will need my help in getting started, I decided to do some research on the interent. I found your site and ran across the 5 tips every beginner should know. I am so thankful that I have found this info. I can see how it will help both of us. I plan on reading more on your site and will have to put it in my favorites. I am excited about getting started.

  6. Karenon 08 Feb 2012 at 9:25 pm

    I’m am so happy that I found your site! I’ve been looking for instructions, samples and how-to’s on quilling on and off for awhile! Your site is wonderful! Informative and super easy to understand. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to go out and purchase the needed supplies to begin! 🙂

  7. Charlotteon 08 Feb 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Hi, Karen,

    What a wonderful comment — thank you!! I am so pleased that you stopped by my blog and found my information useful. I enjoy quilling and sharing what I have learned along the way with others.

    Happy Quilling!

  8. Rosy Newlunon 07 Mar 2012 at 4:59 am

    Thank you for leaving your post up – very helpful to those of us who want to delve into the quilling world 🙂

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