Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova creates her quilled art using mathematical principles, yet also looks to create depth and movement in her work.


Paper quilling dates back at least to the Renaissance – or even earlier – but today’s quillers are pushing this art form to delicious new heights, from painter-like portraits to tapestry impressions.

With the help of paper maven Ann Martin of All Things Paper, we found several artists who are finding unique ways to curl, coil, and mangle paper in distinctive styles. These five artists do it their way:

Yulia Brodskaya

Yulia Brodskaya likes to say she paints with paper, instead of on paper, and it is, indeed, hard to believe that her masterful portraits are not painted, but made of folded, pinched, and coiled paper. Her work has been lauded by art critics, bought by collectors, and is featured in books, branded advertising, and even on a U.S. postage stamp.

“Yulia may be the most well-known paper quiller today,” says Martin. “To the best of my knowledge, she was the first to make small bundles of folded strips that she fits into a design or portrait. Many others have adopted this technique.”

Trained as a graphic designer and illustrator, the Moscow-born artist, who lives in England, was looking for an eye-catching cover for her portfolio.

“I cut some paper sheets into strips and glued the outlines of my name, adding coils and frills inside. “When it was done, I realized that I’d found something more interesting than all my previous drawn illustrations. It felt so right, like I’d finally arrived home. I felt joy and excitement bending and gluing strips of paper. I immersed myself. It turned my career aspirations upside down.”

Yulia Brodskaya’s quilling technique of folding, rather than rolling or coiling her paper, then placing her paper on the edge creates painterly-like portraits.


Painting with paper, she explains, means imitating brushstrokes with tightly packed paper strips, combining different colors as one would mix paints on a palette. But using paper, she notes, offers a third dimension. “It won’t give you a new color but is more of an optical illusion.”

Brodskaya, author of Painting with Paper: Paper on the Edge, says her work is constantly evolving. “My paper art practice is a journey, it evolves and changes constantly, and I readily allow these transformations to happen.”

Paulina M. Johnson

Paulina M. Johnson, who builds serene landscapes inspired by the mountains and colors of her Colorado home, loves the way paper strips come to life when pushed beyond the flat world “into the three-dimensional world of light and shadow.”

“I have an unconditional, massive love for paper,”

says Johnson, who had a graphic design business before delving into paper art in 2017. She tried “just about every method of paper art I could find,” including origami, kirigami, paper folding, paper making, casting and, finally, quilling.

She started with geometric designs before progressing to landscapes, which are rooted in a minimalistic design aesthetic “using the simplest of elements, such as circles and lines.

I think paper is the most versatile, humble, natural, and beautiful medium there is.”

Johnson, who is an adjunct professor at Colorado Mountain College and an exhibiting partner at Pine Moon Fine Art, notes that today’s quillers have access to a wide selection of paper weights, colors, lengths and heights, as well as tools “that make the practice easier. I love it.”

Paulina M. Johnson, who started her quilling journey using shredded sheets of junk mail, brings a minimalist design aesthetic to her art, whether it’s a clean, graphic design or a stylized landscape.


As a graphic designer, Johnson spent several years working with nonprofit organizations, which was rewarding. But today, she says, she dedicates her time and energy to her family and her paper art.

“I still have so much to do and explore,” she says. “It’s been a refreshing change of professional lanes and I could not be more excited.”

Lisa Nilsson

Lisa Nilsson is attracted to intricate, multifaced, complex, detailed, and time-consuming work, whether inspired by the gilt-edged papers used in 18th century books, anatomical cross-section graphics, or the beauty and symmetry of ancient Persian rugs.

Nilsson’s first quilling experiments were small and decorative, using gilt-edged paper, and were incorporated into her box assemblages. Then a friend sent her a hand-colored photograph of an anatomical cross-section.

“In that image, I saw many of the same shapes and textures I had been working with in my quilling experiments. 

I made my first anatomical piece based on the image of a hand-colored photograph by (French surgeon and anatomist Eugène-Louis) Doyen.”

But after several years of anatomical art, she was ready for a new subject, and a new color palette. The elaborate designs in Persian rugs caught her eye.

“I noticed the designs in some rugs are organized around a central medallion, surrounded by a field, corners and a border. I made some smaller works, beginning in the center and working out. The pieces grew larger as I made more, culminating in the piece I titled Grand Jardin. I spent six years making it, working from the center out, designing as the piece grew. It measured about three by four feet when completed.”

Nilsson cuts her own paper strips and has a fondness for the “subtle, sophisticated colors” and the softness and flexibility of mulberry paper, which works well with her tightly compressed quilling.

Lisa Nilsson’s intricate and detailed work has been inspired by everything from gilt-edged papers used in old books to anatomical cross-sections to Persian rugs.


“Multiple strips wound into a single coil create a sort of color mixing or blending within a coil, largely made possible by the thinness, softness, and flexibility of mulberry paper,” she explains. “It is a bit counter-intuitive, as most quilling relies on a strip of paper standing on edge and having a certain firmness. Because of this, my quilling is formed mostly in interlocking, dense shapes, rather than curvy, open lines.”

The Massachusetts-based artist also likes the irregularity she gets when cutting her ¼ or 1/8-inch strips.

“The bit of inaccuracy adds character to the surface of the work. I only have to cut for 10 or 20 minutes to have enough strips to work for hours.”

Nilsson is again experimenting, using old book cloth (from damaged books).

“Earlier pieces of quilling sometimes had a fabric background. I’ve been making little units that look sort of like jewelry. I’m not sure how I’ll compose them, perhaps on a velvet background, like jewelry in a jewelry store case.”

Manuela Koosch

At first glance, Manuela Koosch’s quilled flowers appear to be made of clay or even porcelain, they are so tightly coiled and realistic. And that has been her goal since she started quilling in 2009, beginning with traditional techniques and shapes then adding painterly elements to her repertoire.

“My main focus became creating lifelike flowers, to bring my art closer to reality,” says the Romanian artist. “I started developing my own methods and techniques.”

She began experimenting with 1 mm paper strips, creating tight coils to better resemble actual petals, and then incorporating watercolors, gouache, and pastels.

“These mediums allow me to paint and shade the leaves and petals and add new dimension and depth to my artwork. My artworks are a mix of paper quilling and various other paper crafts. I am drawn to exploring new ideas, incorporating different techniques, experimenting with what is possible with paper quilling.”

Manuela Koosch discovered quilling on a YouTube channel and was instantly hooked “by what could be achieved by rolling and shaping paper strips.”


Yulia Brodskaya used Koosch’s flowers on a portrait of interior designer Joanna Gaines, a collaboration that “was like a dream come true,” Koosch says. “When I developed an interest in quilling, she was the first artist I encountered who made commercial artworks incorporating paper strips. Her unique style and creativity have been an inspiration. Yulia was the mastermind behind these projects. It was such a joy to see my florals incorporated into her work.”

Koosch’s quilling journey is just beginning. “There is still so much more to explore and discover. I know the excitement will keep me captivated for years to come.”

Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova

Geometry and math always fascinated Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova, who is inspired by the “sequences and patterns, symmetry and repetition, which are everywhere around us,” and inform her geometric designs.

While her structured pieces are based on mathematical principles, she also aims to “achieve movement” by using various depths of paper.

“When you pass by, there is movement in my work,” she says. “From each angle, you can get different feelings or outcomes from the art piece.”

Juskova, who was born in Slovakia to a math-oriented family and now lives in Ireland, graduated school as a furniture designer, but discovered quilling about six years ago while scrolling through Pinterest, where the 3D effect of quilling “got my attention.”

She started playing with traditional designs, but slowly, her mathematical brain was creating angles.

“As I practiced, I could visualize and bring to life more geometric patterns based on various calculations,” she explains. “My sketches are numbers and math calculations of how many of certain shapes I need to create desired designs.”

Juskova, who comes from a family of mathematicians, wants to “make math beautiful” by using sequences, patterns, symmetry and repetition in her geometric designs.


Quilling art pieces is now her full-time job, and she spends hours designing, cutting, folding, and gluing paper to achieve the depth and movement she is seeking. Some pieces are created intuitively, while others are pre-designed, with every cut carefully measured.

Her equations may seem like a complicated process, but to Juskova, it’s just how she sees things. “My art side turns those calculations into clever and visually calming designs,” she says. “I simply got addicted to quilling and was able to combine my two passions – art and math.”

Her goal, she says, “is to make math beautiful.”

Roberta G. Wax

Roberta G. Wax


Roberta Wax is an award-winning journalist and imperfect crafter. A former news reporter, her freelance articles and projects have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, from the Los Angeles Times and Emmy magazine to Cloth Paper Scissors, Somerset Studio, Craftideas, Belle Armoire, etc. She has also designed for craft companies. Although she has no art background she was a crafty Girl Scout leader. www.creativeunblock.com

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