If you are going to make more than just one or two small pieces of quilling, you owe it to yourself to purchase one of the quilling workboards and design guides that are currently available. These are quality boards made of dense self-healing cork or durable foam that are sturdy and made to last for years. The design grid guides and circle templates help you create precise, uniform quills, which is very important when working with symmetrical patterns such as snowflakes.
However, if you are working with a group (Scout troop, church group, craft club, etc.), it is not always practical to purchase each member their own quilling workboard. You can make one instead.
A simple, temporary board can be made from any sturdy sheet of cork board, plastic foam, corrugated cardboard, or other similar material. A nice size is 6″ x 8″, but use what you have. For my quilling classes, I have taken inexpensive 12″ x 12″ cork squares, cut them into four 6″ x 6″ squares, and edged them with masking tape. These work very well, and if one happens to get away from me, it can easily be replaced. Go green with a quilling workboard made from corrugated cardboard cut from a box that was headed for the trash. When it has too many holes to be useful, just place it in the recycling bin.
Wax paper makes a serviceable cover sheet for your workboard; it is handy and certainly cheap enough. However, a word of caution is in order — if too much glue is used and the quillwork is accidentally glued to the wax paper, when you remove the quillwork the wax will come up with the quilled design. I prefer to use clear plastic sheets cut from scrap (think old plastic sheet protectors or office transparencies) or recycled plastic packaging (not the hard stuff toys are packaged in, but the thin plastic scrapbook embellishments are wrapped in, heavy-duty food baggies, etc.). You can either pin the workboard cover in place, or wrap it around and tape it to the back. Slip your quilling pattern underneath the cover sheet (plastic or wax paper), pin in place, and create your quilled masterpiece.
For symmetrical work, a design grid can be created from a piece of graph paper cut to fit your quilling workboard
. Using a ruler and black pen or fine-tip marker, draw in your vertical and horizontal lines to divide your sheet roughly into fourths. Continue to draw in intersecting lines as needed for your pattern. Circles can be added to the grid with the aid of a compass or circle template.
If you find that you need to make many coils of the same size, you can create your own template by tracing small round objects of various dimensions (coins, bottle caps, washers, brads, etc.) onto scrap paper or card stock. Place this guide (shown in the top photo) under your workboard cover sheet and allow your quills to uncoil to the size of the desired circle.
Quilling Tip: Use glue sparingly, especially when creating your design over wax paper so the wax on the wax paper does not become glued to the bottom of your quillwork.