The style of quilled designs has changed significantly in the past decade and these developments are tremendously exciting. Thankfully, art isn’t static—how dull that would be! I often see images on Instagram that barely resemble classic quilling that was popular at the end of the last century.
Marriage Certificate by Ann Martin / Calligraphy by Living Letters Studio
It was a defining moment in which I decided to learn everything I could about paper quilling by joining online groups and borrowing library books. This led to the discovery that I was more creative than I ever imagined. Now I do commissioned pieces and enjoy teaching others to quill via projects in books and magazines and tutorials on my blog.
Also known as paper filigree, quilling has a long history that dates back at least several hundred years.
Ring of Keys by Ann Martin
Wedding Invitation Mat by Ann Martin
Silver Orb Pendant by Ann Martin
Inexpensive strips in several widths are readily available from online suppliers. Specialty choices include graduated shades, two-tone and two-sided colors, pearlized, vellum, corrugated, and even mirror foil. The type I most enjoy using has a fine metallic gold, silver, or copper edge. The elegant shine has definite wow-power, making it ideal for quilled jewelry.
Traditional, intricate quilling is still being done, and often beautifully so, but a healthy percentage of new adopters, most of whom are young women in their 20s and 30s, practice a form of contemporary line art composed of gently curved strips that are wider than the standard 1/8″ (3mm) width. Time-honored shapes— teardrops, marquises and crescents, for example—play only a very small role in the designs, if they are present at all.
Perhaps the 2016 USPS Love Stamp caught your eye when it was released in January. It features an enchanting paper heart composed of gracefully shaped elements created by UK paper artist, illustrator, and quilling trendsetter Yulia Brodskaya.
Love Stamp by Yulia Brodskaya
Paper Typography by Yulia Brodskaya
Amethyst by Yulia Brodskaya
Textile Market by Yulia Brodskaya
Textile Market, a vivid symphony of colors and patterns along with facial character lines that she creates so skillfully, was inspired by her photographic collection of market stalls.
Currently, Yulia is exploring a new avenue that she calls painting with paper and describes as the combining of folded strips, the way one would mix paints on a palette.
Violin by Sena Runa
Hot Air Balloon by Sena Runa
Sena has an enormous following on Instagram with more than 100,000 followers as a result of online features.
Papergraphy by Sabeena Karnik
Tropical ‘O’asis by Sabeena Karnik
Sabeena frequently designs dimensional lettering projects that she calls papergraphy, as well as illustrative quillwork.
The piece at right is one of three commissioned pieces Sabeena created for the sponsors of the 2016 USA Olympic swimming trials. The jubilant images were used on promotional banners, posters, and calendars.
USA Olympic Swimming Trials 2016 by Sabeena Karnik
Paper Mosaic by Erin Curet
Cherry Blossom by JUDiTH+ROLFE
Succulents by Meloney Celliers
Letter A – Iwona Wright (moon_bloom_)
A vast number of quillers in all corners of the world have been working with paper only a handful of years, yet they are bringing new advances to the art. Designers may combine quilling with a tablet-drawn image or place it atop color-shaded backgrounds. Some lean toward forming highly detailed standalone figures.
I hesitate to name even this short list as there are many others who also do exceptional work, but to see additional contemporary designs, Google Cecelia Louie, Natasha Molotkova, Licia Politis and Katherine Usowa. On Instagram, search out judithandrolfe, mainelyquilling, melly_the_elephant, moon_bloom_, paperliberated and quilledbyolia.
I think you’ll come away inspired to try your hand at paper quilling. You just might find it to be one of the most satisfying ventures of your life!
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