Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Arts and Crafts/Paper Quilling

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Quilling History

Quilling or Paper Filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. It is believed the art has been practiced since ancient Egyptian and/or 4th Century Grecian times. It is believed that they used thin metal wires and examples have been found on containers, especially boxes. Egptian tombs have also been found to contain similar wire shapes akin to modern quilling. Similar silver and gold wires were found in the 4th and 5th century to adorn vases and pillars.

During the Renaissance, nuns and monks picked up the art to decorate book covers and religious items. The paper most commonly attributed to the designs they made were the gilded strips torn from books. It is said that they used these gilded paper strips in order to imitate the original metal wires. The name quilling is said to be derived from the fact that the nuns and monks originally used feather quills as their tool to roll the paper.

The following information is quoted from:,2025,DIY_14159_2270974,00.html

"The art of paper quilling dates back three or four centuries to a time when nuns used the gold edges trimmed from Bible pages to create simple but beautiful works of artistry. The scraps of paper were wrapped around goose quills to create coiled shapes -- hence the name "quilling."

The paper was wound around a quill to create the basic coil shape and then shaped to form flowers, leaves, and other ornamental patterns. Many of the pieces that have been preserved from this time are found adorning religious plaques. It is said that this craft then spread throughout Europe and to the Americas.

Quilling is seing a resurgence in popularity today. The craft has become increasingly popular due to the low cost of the basic material, paper, that is required to make the shapes. It is often used to decorate wedding invitations, birth announcements, greeting cards and such.

The following included by permission from the Author: Antonella DeFalco,

Tools and Supplies

The basic quilling shapes are made by taking strips of paper and rolling them into tight or loose coils. These coils are then shaped into various shapes. These shapes are grouped together to make any design or pattern that you can imagine.

There are generally two types of tools that are used, they are the Slotted tool and the Needle tool. It is not necessary to use mechanical tools, many quillers use their fingers, or finger rolling, in addition to hat pins, straight pins, toothpicks, needles, dowels, or any thin, stick-like object that can be used to wind the paper.

The paper is typically cut into strips of varying widths, these are 1/8" (.3 cm), 1/4" (.6 cm), 1/2" (1.3 cm), and 3/8" (1.6 cm). The 1/8" (.3 cm) width is most commonly used for quilling and referenced in many patterns. Papers today come in many colors and types. Although some people cut their own paper, there are a growing number of retailers that offer a variety of papers.

In general, a combination of tight winding, loosening, curling, creasing and gluing are used to form the designs.

Some of the additional tools that quillers use are:

  • Glue - any white glue that dries clear can be used
  • Wax paper or a clear sheet protector - used to protect your worksurface while you are working with the added benefit that the quilled pieces will come up easily to be attached to your project
  • Scissors - for cutting shapes
  • Ruler - for measuring your paper strips and to help with keeping your work straight and your shapes consistent sizes
  • Damp cloth or sponge to keep your fingers from getting sticky
  • Tweezers to pick up your quilled pieces and arrange them in your design

Basic Quilling Shapes and Instructions

The following outlines the name of the shape and provides instructions on how to make the shape using your quilling strips.

Often, before beginning to make your shapes, you will "condition the paper." This is similar to curling ribbon on a present. You take your finger nail and run it along the end of your quilling paper. The end result is a strip that begins to curve. You can get the same effect by using your needle tool. The reason you want to do this is that it loosens the fibers in the paper and makes it easier to shape your paper strip.

Quilling Shapes
Daisy Card

Coil Shapes

Tight coil

  • Take your quilling paper and place it into the slotted tool
  • Your paper should be at the very tip of the slot (in my picture, you can see the paper coming through the slot - when you are ready to roll your paper, you should not be able to see your paper coming through the other side)
  • Holding your paper in one hand and your tool in the other, in front of you, start turning your tool
  • The paper will begin turning as the tool grabs the paper
  • Try to keep the edges of the paper as even as possible - if you don't, you will find that your finished coil will have what I like to refer to as a little belly
  • Try to keep your paper as tight as possible
  • When you get to the end, you will want to pull the paper off of the tool. When making a tight coil (like this is) I glue the end and carefully pull the paper off.

Loose coil

  • Basically the same as the tight coil, but you don't keep as much tension on the paper
  • You do not want to make it as tight
  • When you get to the end, a little trick is to turn it in the opposite direction from which you were turning it. This makes it easier to pull the paper off without creating what someone has referred to as a tornado
  • After you pull the paper off the tool let it open up - this is what makes it a loose coil
  • Now you can add a dab of glue and you are done

Teardrop or raindrop shape

  • Take your loose coil and pinch the end where you glued it
  • I generally pinch with my thumb and index finger

Marquis, marquise or eye shape

  • Take your loose coil and pinch the end where you glued it
  • Take your teardrop shape and pinch the opposite end
  • I like to hold the coil so that I pinch first one end then the other end - but I essentially hold both pinched ends one in each hand at the same time

Heart shape

  • Take your loose coil and pinch the end where you glued it
  • Take your teardrop shape, and while holding the pinched end in your hand, press in from the top (or rounded part of the teardrop)
  • This will create the indentation at the top to make it look like a heart

Scroll and Spiral Shapes

Loose Scroll

  • To make this shape, you will notice that it looks a lot like the coil shapes we previously made
  • So, start with the coil shape, but don't coil the entire strip
  • Leave the last tiny bit so that it remains loose
  • This shape is actually kind of neat to use - it gives a very loose look to many patterns that you might use the loose coil for, and if you use your imagination think of waves, clouds, even musical notes, so many options... just with changing the length of the coil


  • This shape gets its name because it looks like an "S" when you are finished
  • Condition both ends of the strip
    • Such that one end is curved one direction and the other end is curved in the other direction
  • Now the paper is ready
  • Take your tool and place the paper in the end and begin rolling the paper in toward the center - but in opposite directions!


  • This shape gets its name because it looks like a "C" when you are finished
    • This shape is very much like the S-Shape above and you prepare your strip in the same way
  • When you condition the paper, make sure that the paper curves in toward itself
    • So both ends are curved toward the center of the paper
  • The difference is that you roll or turn your paper in toward each other so that they meet in the center

Heart Scroll

  • This shape is also referred to as an Open Heart
  • First, take the paper and fold it in half
  • Next, you want to condition your paper the same way you do for a C-Scroll
  • Finally, roll or turn your paper in toward the center
  • Roll until you get to the paper fold line and then start on the other end

Spiral shape

  • You will need to use your needle tool, or similar long thin apparatus, to get this to work
  • The key is to moisten the end of the strip before you begin
  • You then take the paper and wrap it around your needle tool
  • The trick is that you want to start at the tip and continue to wrap up your tool
  • As you approach the handle, you want to start sliding the paper off of the tool so that you can continue to wrap the spiral shape until you reach the end of your strip
  • Many people will take very long strips (by attaching them end to end) and will use it to outline a photo mat - not an easy task to do so and keep it even

Keep experimenting. You can make anything from stars and moons, to squares and fish. Once you are done creating each individual shape, lay them on a board or piece of paper to arrange. Finally, glue the pieces in a mosaic-like fashion, making a picture out of several smaller shapes.

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