Category Archives: Paper bead jewellery

Chain reaction

A trio of quilled discs mounted on a smooth Sterling Silver snake chain, with matching earrings

It was never my intention to become a jewellery designer. However, fate (with a great deal of assistance from arts festival collaborators in Taunton) has conspired to introduce me into a wonderful new world of jump rings, round and flat-nosed pliers, earring posts and snake chains!

This journey began with my conical bead jewellery – created mainly from upcycled magazine pages and marbled paper offcuts – which have proved consistently popular over the years, and to which I have now dedicated a separate page here on my blog entitled ‘My Jewellery‘.

However, with help and encouragement from colleagues at the Polkadot Jewellery Gallery in Taunton – where my quilled paper and Sterling Silver jewellery is now stocked – I am developing a whole new collection of pieces which utilise crimped, metallic-edged quilling strips, alongside some selected conical bead pieces.  It’s proving to be a really exciting process, creatively challenging yet at the same time very fulfilling too.

My sales in the run-up to Christmas have been very encouraging, surpassing even my wildest expectations!

As the process continues, I am gradually moving away from any pre-conceived ideas that I had about jewellery. My mind is being opened to new design concepts and the merits of different chain lengths, styles and other metallic fittings which I now realise play such an important role in complementing the quilling itself.

It is, indeed, a chain reaction! One thing leads to another, and whilst today I am so thrilled to have recently discovered the beauty of smooth-sided snake chains (like the one in the picture at the top of this post), who knows what the future will hold?

 

I am often asked whether I sell my jewellery pieces online, and the answer is that – for the moment at least – I prefer to operate solely as a retail supplier, as I am doing with Polkadot. Having said that, however, I am willing to discuss one-off commissions with anyone who chooses to get in touch with me. You can find my contact details by clicking here.

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Ending 2018 on a high

2018 has been a momentous year for me, dominated by two major developments which I could not possibly have foreseen 12 months ago.

Firstly, out of the blue, I was approached by a publisher and commissioned to write a book about quilling … and my earlier ‘adoption’ by Polkadot Jewellery Gallery as part of this year’s Taunton Live Arts Festival has led directly to my becoming a newly-established designer/maker of paper jewellery!

It just goes to show that one should always expect the unexpected, yet still I cannot quite shake off the habit of trying to make plans for my future life!

My book – a comprehensive practical guide to quilling techniques – is now written, and was handed over to the publisher this morning. It will be at least six months before it is published, but the timescale is actually now shorter than I had originally been led to believe, and it looks as though it will be printed in time for the Quilling Guild’s annual Celebration event in 2019. I cannot reveal too much about its contents at this early stage, but can safely say it will be completely different from all the other quilling books currently on the market. In writing it, my aim has been to inspire readers across a very broad potential audience, ranging from general crafters to existing quillers and mixed media artists alike. I learned so much on my path towards attaining Higher Level Accreditation with the Quilling Guild in 2016, and in many ways I see this book as the culmination of that journey. I’m looking forward to seeing the page proofs with bated breath …

Meanwhile, I am continuing to work closely with my new colleagues at Polkadot to develop an innovative new range of quilled and paper bead jewellery, in which a good deal of customer interest is already being shown.  Pieces retained by the gallery from my ‘adoption’ display in the summer are continuing to sell in the run-up to Christmas, and I am gradually replacing them with new styles which particularly feature gold- and silver-effect metallics. I am learning more about different types and lengths of chains, the importance of using Sterling Silver rather than plated findings and the styles that appeal to customers in the context of an upmarket contemporary jewellery environment. Exciting times indeed!

Meanwhile, demand for my conical bead earrings and necklaces made from recycled magazine pages continues undiminished amongst friends, acquaintances and customers at my occasional public workshop events. I am even exploring making beads from marbled paper, old maps and artists’ reject monoprints, too, which fuels the insatiable attraction I feel towards colourful papers. Unwanted scraps of paper which are headed for the bin often have the potential to make fabulous beads!

So ends 2018, with the promise of lots more creative activity in the year ahead. To be honest, I simply cannot wait for it to start!

 

 

Everything’s gone cone-shaped

So Autumn has arrived at last … and after another wonderful Summer of quilling-related events, it’s time for me to settle down to some quiet productivity once again. Over the next three months, I plan to finish work on my book – a comprehensive, practical guide to quilling techniques which I have been commissioned by a publisher to write. If everything goes according to plan, the book should be printed and available for purchase in the closing months of 2019. It’s an exciting prospect. So, too, is the opportunity that has recently arisen for me to market my quilled jewellery through a high-profile contemporary jewellery gallery. Both these activities look set to shape the path my life will take in the months to come.

If you follow my blog, you may recall that back in the Summer I was ‘adopted’ as an artist by the Polkadot Gallery in Taunton, Somerset, as part of this year’s Taunton Live Arts Festival. This amazing opportunity allowed me to showcase a specially-created collection of quilled and paper bead jewellery in the gallery’s shop window throughout the month of July, and during that period I was successful in achieving several sales.  At the end of the month, I was delighted to be invited by the gallery owner to leave my remaining pieces there so that they could officially be taken into stock! Not only that, I was asked to make more and also to supply further items to Polkadot’s main gallery in Exeter, Devon.

One of the great benefits of working with the Polkadot team is the guidance they have given me in terms of developing jewellery styles which reflect current trends and are therefore most likely to sell. In particular, they have encouraged me to focus on developing cone-shaped beads which incorporate spiralling text within the design, alongside an unusual range of quilled solid coil and ring coil pieces which make innovative use of colour and metallic finishes. Sterling Silver chains and fittings also play an important part.

My cabinet at Polkadot’s Taunton gallery now contains the fruits of this collaboration, and I will be delivering further newly-developed stock to Exeter during October.

Development of the conical beads has involved me in a great deal of experimentation, as it certainly is not easy to get text correctly distributed and spaced when you roll and expand the paper being used.  Trial and error played a big role in the special promotional beads that Polkadot asked me to try and produce, but the successful result of this work can now be seen in the earrings pictured at the top of this post. I am particularly proud of them!

 

 

A retrospective

Staging my Fellow’s Retrospective display at the Quilling Guild‘s Celebration of Quilling in Hartley Wintney last weekend made me realise what a lot of quilling I have done in the last 10 years, and just how far I have progressed! It also reminded me that I haven’t posted anything about the various competition pieces I have quilled this year, so I am remedying the situation now.

Firstly, here are some photos of my display at the Quilling Guild event, in which I included pieces that I have managed to win awards for over the years, along with examples of the way my work is progressing to encompass mixed media/collage work as well as conventional paper filigree.

 

This was the first big display I have staged since taking part in the Taunton Live Arts Festival and Taunton Flower Show in the summer, and now that all the competition events for me in 2017 are over, I am finally free to share some of the other new pieces I have been working on during the year to date.

My activities at Taunton Live have been well documented on my Facebook page here, so I am not going to repeat them all over again. Suffice to say that I had a fantastic time at the festival, made lots of wonderful new friends, and have bookings for several quilling workshops in the town as a result.

At the Flower Show, I entered one of the crafts competition categories with this quilled typographical piece which was Highly Commended by the judges. The word “Vivary” is the name of the wonderful Victorian park in which the show is staged, and I tried to reflect its peaceful ambience of fresh green complemented by vibrant floral colours in my quilling. By submitting quilled typography, I suspect that I may have fallen foul of the strict category guidelines which stated that one’s entry should be a “picture” … but no matter, I was very pleased with my commendation and several people I met were full of praise for my piece, even stopping to congratulate me when they saw me taking the picture down at the end of the show!

I also won a Second Prize with this card, which I entered into the category which required an entirely hand-crafted creation (no commercial kit components!) to welcome the arrival of twin baby girls.  I set the quilling within a recessed box frame, covering the roof section with vortex coil tiles and adding a nest for the babies on the chimney which I fashioned from real hair (my own)!

Another piece that I’ve been keeping under wraps is this quilled pendant that I made for the Quilling Guild’s Annual Challenge competition, which I created using a side-looping technique that I developed when trying to quill birds’ feathers.

I also managed to win First Place (Masters) in the ‘Anything Goes’ category of this year’s Quilling Guild competitions with this little creation of a snail which sits inside a coiled ring of LED lights, alongside lots of elements made from kitchen foil to create reflections:

Here I am receiving my award from Jane Jenkins:

So now I think we’re up to date again with this record of my quilling activities in 2017.

There is still much for me to look forward to with the possibility of forming a local quilling group following the success of the Guild’s recent Celebration of Quilling event in Hampshire, and the prospect of an Artist’s Residency at the Creative Innovation Centre in Taunton next year.

Watch this space!!

 

 

Counting down to Taunton Live 2017!

Just a few weeks to go now before the start of this year’s amazing Taunton Live Arts Festival on 24th July and things are hotting up in more ways than one!  I have created a page on this blog on which you can look at the full festival programme here.

Amid blazing sunshine and soaring temperatures, I am currently putting the finishing touches to all the pieces I am going to be taking to this year’s festival as time ticks rapidly by. It’s hard to imagine that this year’s event could possibly be even more exciting for me than it was in 2016 (see this post which is full of happy memories) – but the signs are looking good indeed!

This year I am going to be exhibiting framed quilled artwork in two different places.  Firstly, I will be participating in the Go Create members’ exhibition at the Winchester Arms which is situated right at the heart of the outdoor festival events on Taunton’s Castle Green. I have decided to take one new piece and two remaining from my church exhibition of 2016 which I hope may yet find buyers in this centrally-situated venue. Here’s the new piece, which is entitled ‘Love the Levels’:

It’s my interpretation of the peat-rich flatlands of the glorious Somerset Levels, featuring quilling strip ‘strata’ and gold/silver edged coils depicting light glinting on the muddy puddles of the moorland which stretches for miles around the iconic mound of Glastonbury Tor. I also added a quilled willow tree and reeds to complete the image which for me captures just a little of the magical essence of Somerset. I hope that visitors will like it.

This year I have once again been fortunate to have been given further exhibition space in Taunton through the Festival’s fabulous ‘Adopt An Artist‘ scheme. My ‘adopter’ this year is Priory Close Veterinary Practice in Canon Street who have generously offered me wall space in their spacious waiting room, plus some shelves which are visible from the street through very attractive arched leaded light windows.  I am going to take a few of my quilled ‘sculptures’ like these for the window space:

… plus the focus of my display of framed pictures on the waiting room wall will be birds. These will include my recently-framed ‘Resplendent Quetzal’ bird of paradise (pictured below), along with my quilled turtle dove, green woodpecker, and ‘murmuration’ of starlings (also below) which I created using Diane Boden’s amazing ‘fairy dust sprinkles’ technique that I learned at the Quilling Guild‘s last International Festival of Quilling in Liverpool in 2013.

Still on the subject of birds, I blogged earlier about the yellow bird I’ve created for the ‘origami wall‘ which is being planned for the Festival, organised by my good friend Fran who currently has people across Taunton folding origami birds by the dozen! I’m a bit concerned that my quilled bird may look a little out of place amongst all the folded ones, whilst Fran is worried that I’ve spent a lot of time working on something that may – sadly – end up being stolen or vandalised (it’s an outdoor installation). However, I’ve said I’ll be happy just as long as my bird flies on the wall long enough for me to get a photo of it. We’ll just have to see how it goes …

On Wednesday 26th July, I’ll be doing a ‘pop-up’ quilling demonstration in Taunton’s main shopping area, the Orchard Centre, alongside other ‘pop-up’ performances by various Go Create Taunton members. I plan to be making some quilled jewellery for the public to watch, and there will be an opportunity for them to have a go at quilling if they want to – I’ll have plenty of starter kits on standby! This event will also provide me with the chance to offer some of my quilled merchandise for sale – I’ve been making quite a few new cards and jewellery items this year.

On the jewellery front, I’ve been developing some new-style quilled pendants which my friends in Taunton are already quite excited about:

Over the months, I’ve progressed from multi-coloured creations based on solid coils to some interlocking hoop designs, inspired by some of the wonderful ideas shared by the eminent Australian paper jewellery-maker Licia Politis in the Quilling Guild’s ‘Quillers Today‘ magazine a few years ago. (Quilling Guild members can access this feature via the Quilling Now! blog).

As for cards … well, I underwent a bit of an ‘epiphany’ this Spring after attending a ‘Collage Creativity’ course at the wonderful Dillington House adult education centre.  Before going on this course, I had already started working on a few ‘mixed media’ designs featuring quilling, typography panels and embossing like this one:

However, after being told in no uncertain terms by the collage tutor to “put that craft knife down!!”, my designs have morphed into a much softer style with torn edges and distress inking along these lines:

I hope that the cards I have made will prove popular in Taunton.

These merchandise items will also be on sale at what I regard as my ‘main event’ at the Festival: I am honoured to be hosting a display of the Quilling Guild’s amazing GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title display of 6,241 quilled flowers at the Temple Church in Upper High Street, on 28th and 29th July from 12 noon – 4.00pm each day.

I’ll be demonstrating quilled flowers at this free event, and I’m hoping that lots of people will come to see the display which is being billed as one of the highlights of the Festival.

So, with all this going on, I’m sure you can imagine my rising sense of excitement as I count the days until the beginning of Taunton Live on 24th July. If you live in, or find yourself in the area during the Festival week, do please come and see me at one of my events, and take in the rest of the Festival which will be packed with spectacular art and performances of every kind. It is my absolute pleasure and privilege to be part of it.

Quilling with marbled paper

DSCF6584I’m always on the look-out for potential new quilling materials, so was delighted to make the acquaintance of a hand-marbled paper supplier last week at the fabulous Taunton Flower Show. Marshall and Fuller produce an amazing range of uniquely patterned papers whose weight is ideal for quilling applications, so I just had to treat myself by buying a sheet to play with.

DSCF6587Here’s a photo of a section of the sheet that I bought … yes, with a pattern like that it was guaranteed to get the creative ‘juices’ flowing! What’s more, I was assured by the manufacturer that the colours do not run in contact with PVA glue or varnish, so I just couldn’t wait to start experimenting. First, I cut some 3mm wide strips and backed them by gluing standard quilling strips in complementary colours along their length. When dry, this produced some very substantial strips – patterned on one side – which held their coil beautifully after rolling. Here, you can see the lovely effect that quilling with these produced:

DSCF6585

Then, I tried rolling up some long triangular sections of the paper to make some beads, and I’m absolutely thrilled with the result! The little sections of pattern combine together in a really attractive and interesting way, and (although I say it myself), I think these earrings are absolutely stunning!

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I just can’t wait to experiment some more, so watch this space …

Candy stripe paper bead earrings

ycv7tAInspired by a recent tutorial/free printable giveaway on Susan Niner Janes’ blog, Papercraft Post, I was keen to have another go at paper bead making. Susan’s clever idea was to add patterned ‘toppers’ to the narrower ends of tapered paper strips which are rolled into beads, so that an attractive design appears on the widest part of the bead after rolling. I wondered whether I could create my own patterns using short sections of quilling strips to produce a ‘candy stripe’ effect – and these earrings are the result.

To make the beads for my earrings, I tapered the edges of 20mm wide iris-folding strips by careful measurement and cutting to achieve a symmetrical shape. To the wider end (on the inside of the bead when rolled), I glued a short looped-over length of paper twine to form an integral hanging hook for my earring beads. This doubled-over length of twine runs across the whole width of the strip right at the end, providing a fairly firm central ‘core’ to roll the bead around. The resulting loop is useful because it gives you something to hold on to when smoothing the bead into shape and also when applying glue/varnish. Plus, of course, it provides a fixing to thread the jump ring through when making the beads into earrings!

For the candy stripes, I selected 8 short lengths of left-over 3mm quilling strips and glued them diagonally, edge to edge, across the narrowest end of the strips (to appear on the outside of the bead when rolled).

After rolling each bead, I found I could easily slide the outer band of candy stripes up and down in order to ‘play’ with the finished shape, and the central paper twine loop could also be pulled and pushed to help achieve optimum shape and smoothness before fixing the finished bead with an outer coat of glue. Once I was happy with the shape of each bead, I applied the fixing coat of glue with a brush and popped a cocktail stick through the loop to help hold it upright while drying. (I insert my cocktail sticks into the tiny holes of a ‘pin art’ board for drying purposes, but you could equally well use a bulldog clip or a lump of plasticine to hold them.) Once the glue was dry, I finished by applying a layer of clear nail varnish.

I’m quite pleased with the end result, and am sure there must be many more interesting ways of enhancing beads with ‘toppers’. Do check out Susan’s blog here for further bead-making inspiration.