The Art of Quilling Paper

LuxembourgPosted on 17 February 2023 by Team

Quilling is an art form that has been around for centuries. Its the art of rolling narrow strips of paper into coils or scrolls, and arranging them to form elegant filigree.

The art of quilling works on fine motor skills including coordination and
. It is a great way to build hand-eye coordination. Quilling is incredibly relaxing and calming. Wonderful for helping build mindfulness and reduce anxiety.

Today, quilling is seeing a resurgence in popularity. It is sometimes used for decorating wedding invitations, for Christmas, birth announcements, greeting cards, Scrapbook pages,and boxes.

Quilling can be used to decorate greeting cards, frames, books etc. and one can also create beautiful jewellery sets, key chains, models, hanging decor, vase, embellishments, gift tags, wall art, candle holder, 3d quilled gift box and many more…..

Who can learn this art form? Anyone who has the passion to learn any new art form and for kids -   6 years is the best age at which a child can quill. With an adult present to guidethem / a child at the age of 4+ can create all the basic Quilling shapes. It’s an extraordinary activity for kids because it intrigues their creativity and develops their perception of geometric shapes.

Let’s now look at the History of quilling:

In England, with the appearance of first paper mills around 1495, the establishment of paper manufacturing was significant factor in the development of quill work. Paper, elaborately constructed into design and then gilded, substituted more expensive metal.

There are records of French and Italian nuns using the torn edges of gilt-edged Holy books from 1200s - 1600s. These pieces were wrapped around goose quills to create coiled shapes for decoration of reliquaries and holy pictures. They used paper and then gilded or painted the finished work replicating expensive intricacies of wrought iron or carved ivory. This practice of using quills resulted in the craft's name - quilling.

Many sources claim that in Europe the ladies of affluence were taught quilling along with the needle work in Edwardian and Victorian times. Special reassesses were made in tea caddies, baskets, portraits, screens and even in furniture sides to allocate the surface for intricate paper coils and shapes. The instructions and templates were published in magazines of the time. The quality of quilling was at its highest standard.

These were mostly genteel women in Europe, and particularly in England, where quilling was seen as a proper hobby for young ladies to take up along with needlework. It flourished among the ladies of upper classes who had no need for gainful work and were spared domestic chores.

Quilling guild of England makes references to The New Lady's Magazine of 1786: "... it affords an amusement to the female mind capable of the most pleasing and extensive variety; and at the same time, it conduces to fill up a leisure hour with an innocent recreation ..:' Another source, an Edwardian book of household management entitled 'Floral Mosaicon,'provided a reference to Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra purchasing paper pieces.

Only those with money could afford to purchase the supplies needed for quilling such as foil, mica or flaked shell, which were often used as backgrounds. Wooden frames were sold for the sole purpose of being decorated with pieces of paper rolled, shaped and glued into patterns.The projects were usually finished by painting or gilding. The ladies were touse quilling to while away their hours in the pursuit of becoming accomplished women, comfortable knowing that in time, an eligible bachelor would likely take them as a wife. Quilling thereby became a means of signalling wealth and leisure time to prospective husbands.

Until then they decorated screens, cabinets, frames,tea caddies, cribbage boards, wine coasters, work baskets and work boxes, urns and over time, even furniture. Certainly the craft was popular in the early 1810s (the Regency period), but its popularity waned soon after. In 1875 quilling was reintroduced in Europe by William Bemrose, who produced a kit called 'Mosaicon' that included a handbook on quilling. But by the beginning of 20th century it was only introduced as part of a school craft education.

Many European museums hold examples of quilled work, and two major exhibitions of quilling have been held in 1927 in London, one reportedly displaying items quilled presumably by Charles I.

The exhibition of 1988 in New York at the Florian-Papp Gallery presented for exhibition and sale some exquisite examples,mostly of European origin. Patricia Caputo also writes extensively on the revival of quilling in America. She has mentioned the American Quilling Guild, surviving suppliers, exhibitions, and overall growing popularity of the craft in 1970s-1980s. The Quilling guild of England is a very popular organisation across Europe and Australia, staging exhibitions and providing classes extensively in both modern and classic styles of quilling. British quilling guild staged festivals of the craft across the country since the 1990s, and hopes to have a permanent display of its archives.

The best literary example of quilling as a ladies' pastime was given in Jane Austin's novel Sense and Sensibility. Lucy Steele, attempting to curry favour with the Middletons, in particular with Lady Middleton, creates a filigree work basket for the Middleton's spoilt daughter, Anna-Maria: "Perhaps," continued Elinor, "if I should happen to cut out, I may be of some use to Miss Lucy Steele, in rolling her papers for her; and there is so much still to be done to the basket, that it must be impossible, I think, for her labour singly, to finish it this evening. I should like the work exceedingly, if she would allow me a share in it." But later Austin depicts the filigree basket as a waste of time and money because of its useless fragility. (Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austin, Chapter 23) If you have ever wondered what the Bennet sisters were doing with a number of pieces of rolled paper spread over the table in one scene, fortunately, you will now be in the know!

Many examples of quilled art can be found on cabinets and stands, cribbage boards, ladies' purses, a wide range of both pictures and frames, work baskets, tea caddies, coats of arms and wine coasters. Storage boxes, larger than most jewellery boxes with drawers and/or tops that opened, quilled lock boxes, are popular. In recent times, quilling jewellery has become a trend for fashion lovers, as it can be very light and easy to carry on them. Some items were specially designed for quilling, with recessed surfaces. Quilling was also combined or married with other techniques such as  embroidery & painting.

Quilling can be found in art galleries in Europe and in the United States, and is an art that is practiced around the world.

Difficulty level of this art:

Quilling is relatively easy to learn compared to most other crafts, and with the resources available today, it can be learned by almost everyone. Basic quilling techniques can be learned almost anywhere and there are several videos online that teach how to start quilling. There are more exotic styles of quilling that aren't commonly taught, but can be learned through books that teach the specific styles.

Notable Paper Quilling Artists

If you are looking for some inspirations to help you kick-start your paper quilling journey make sure to view some of the works of these artists.


Ann Martin:

Yulia Brodskaya:

Archana Kumar:

Justine Kuran:

To explore more:

Some Quilling tools available in the market:

  • Quilling paper strips
  • Slotted quilling tool & quilling needle
  • Electric quilling
  • Craft Tweezers
  • Quilling shape board
  • Circle Sizer
  • Curling coach
  • Quilling comb
  • Border Buddy
  • Paper crimper
  • Quilling Fringer
  • DIY quilling kit for kids / Adults

Paper quilling instructions and guides can be found in many book stores. Beginners of any age can start with books written for kids which have great instructions. Besides being very easy to understand, children’s paper quilling books come loaded with quick and easy do it yourself projects. Yes,  the key to be successful in any art form is practice, practice & practice……..quilling requires plenty of practice to master the skill. So if you want to quill it like the pros, you need to practice as often as you can. Try more complex shapes, and creative patterns and have fun along the way. . Once you have mastered the skill, you could probably create your own tutorial!

Getting started with quilling tutorials list:

We had a great time putting this piece together and hope you enjoyed reading it. Happy Quilling!

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