Three great things about paper quilled jewellery

From a maker’s point of view, the very best thing about paper quilled jewellery must surely be its creative versatility. As is always the case with quilling, the range of possible techniques that can be utilised is an inspiration in itself – a point that is stressed throughout my book, and which I make no apology for repeating here.

This versatility extends to colour and finish, too, since quilling strips are available in such an amazing range of different shades. Some – which I particularly like to utilise – are even edged with special applications that give the appearance of precious metals.

People often express concern that beads and charms made from paper may lack longevity and dissolve in the rain – but their fears are completely unfounded! I treat all my jewellery pieces with a special non-toxic glue/varnish which makes them hard, strong and water resistant.

To prove the point, I once experimented by holding a varnished paper bead underneath a running tap for several minutes:

After being dried out in an airing cupboard overnight, the bead re-hardened and was good as new!

We are probably all familiar with paper mâché, in which shredded paper is mixed with flour and water, moulded into the required shape and left to dry. The dried-out mixture is rock hard … and exactly the same applies to quilled pieces after the glue/varnish has set. I always liken the end result to the consistency of balsa wood – surprisingly strong, yet amazingly light in weight.

Which brings us to the third great thing about paper quilled jewellery – it’s really light to wear. For people who like big dangly earrings, but hate the feeling of their ear lobes being weighted down, quilled earrings are an absolute joy!

Recently, I started making my own earring wires out of Sterling Silver, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they are. The ends are filed so that they pass smoothly through pierced ears, and the long-drop design actually complements the quilling by making a feature of the wire itself. These earrings are big enough to make a bold fashion statement, yet they really are so light that it’s easy to forget you are wearing them at all!

A lot of thought goes into designing quilled paper jewellery, so it’s only right that careful consideration should be given to the choice of metal fittings too.

Sterling Silver is a must, not only in terms of its bright lustrous appearance, but also its suitability for wear by people who suffer with allergies. I now regard cheaper, silver plated fittings as very inferior substitutes.

When it comes to necklaces, I have fallen totally in love with snake chains, whose smooth sinusoidal curves look wonderful with quilled pendants and charms. Colourful quilling can also be offset beautifully by black/oxidised chains. When selecting fittings, it definitely pays to be creative!

One final thing … if you are thinking about purchasing jewellery as a gift, what better way to celebrate a first wedding anniversary which is, after all, associated with the material paper? If the paper has the appearance of silver or gold, so much the better!

All photos and designs copyright Philippa Reid.

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