Quilling the Taunton Live logo

In July, I will be hosting two quilling workshops as part of the Taunton Live 2016 arts festival – one a ‘drop-in’ make and take session in the town’s main shopping centre on Thursday 21st, and the other a pre-bookable three hour workshop in Taunton Library on Friday 22nd. The festival organisers have been extremely supportive of me and my quilling, which is a real thrill for me as I am delighted to be able to participate in such an exciting event in the town that I love!

A while ago, I was asked whether I’d like to have a go at quilling the festival logo, which is a colourful swirly design as you can see here:

Taunton Live Logo_1C - Copy (2)

So, of course, I thought: yes, I can do that! The idea of reproducing the swirls with fanned-out multi-strip open coils immediately sprang to mind. Once I got started, however, I realised that the task was a little more challenging than it had at first appeared.

Look closely at the logo, and you’ll see that the thickness of swirls is maintained throughout much of the length of each one, rather than tapering sharply as a multi-strip open coil normally would. So I found myself having to add extra bundles of multiple strips to my open coils in order to bulk out the shapes so that they conformed more closely with the design.

Also, there are subtle colour variations in each swirl which I also needed to ‘suggest’ in my quilling.

Here you can see the first logo that I quilled, taking these challenges into account:

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Well, I’m pleased to say that the festival organisers were very pleased with my effort and asked whether I’d be willing to quill a second one, with the intention that both finished pieces could be presented during the event as prizes. What an honour! So I took up the challenge once again, but this time I decided to use a different technique.

Now, I’m not normally a fan of filling in large open spaces with eye/leaf shapes – but I decided that on this occasion the closed loose coil approach might be a better way of creating the swirls.

So, out came my work board and pins, and I tried this different approach, moulding my coils to fit one other within the confines of each swirl outline, before wrapping everything around with a containing strip.

Here’s how it turned out:

Taunton Live logo #2

… and here’s a ‘work in progress’ shot – note the numerous pin holes left over from the completed swirls!

Taunton Live logo work in progress

For each of the little crescents, I found it was necessary to mould a whole-strip eye shape around a dowel and glue it on the back to hold the shape securely. Once again, pins were essential for this purpose.

For the ‘hint’ of colour variation, I’ve added an extra strip (or two!) on one side of each swirl’s outer border as you can see.

All in all, this was an interesting and enjoyable exercise. Now I just need to frame the pieces and look forward to seeing who will receive them as prizes in July!

As a postscript to this story, my first logo is currently being used as the cover photo on the GoCreate Taunton Facebook page!

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Tracery and deconstruction

Every now and then, my love of experimentation gets the better of me and I eagerly set convention aside to try some ‘different’ forms of quilling.

DSCF7273Regular readers of this blog will know that I often like to cut things up when trying something new, and a few weeks ago I tried cutting through some of the spiracles (loops) of an eccentric coil, just to see what interesting things might happen! I’m not a particularly enthusiastic cook, but I do enjoy watching the TV programme Masterchef, and I’ve noticed that the chefs in the competition are often very keen to ‘deconstruct’ classic dishes, presenting familiar ingredients in different and surprising forms. I had this in mind while I played with my eccentric coil, looking for ways in which I might cut the loops and then put them back together in new ways. The shape shown on the left is the result!

Once I started, I realised that there are all sorts of ways in which the spiracles of a coil can be shaped and repositioned … and I also could not resist inserting a few new coils inside the loops of the original one! Incidentally, all this has strong echoes of the cut coil flowers that I wrote about a while ago, and which I believe also offer some interesting potential.

After seeing my ‘deconstructed’ eccentric coil in a post on Facebook, Jane Jenkins asked me whether I had tried deconstructing a husking, so I decided to give that a go too. I fiddled about with a wheatear and also an alternate side looped husking, but didn’t really get very far with either – both the shapes are just too linear. I’ve concluded that spirals offer far more opportunities for creative variation than straight, narrow loops, but if further inspiration strikes I will definitely let you know!

The other thing I’ve been experimenting with is an attempt to reproduce Gothic architectural tracery patterns in quilling. In architecture, tracery is the network of interlaced ornamental stone ‘ribs’ which can be seen supporting the intricate panels of stained glass windows – I have often admired this feature when visiting old English churches and cathedrals. Tracery gives us beautiful trefoil and quatrefoil shapes which are formed by positioning incomplete circles together. I’ve found that it’s possible to recreate these patterns in quilling, simply by cutting regular sections out of ring coils. To achieve consistency in my cut circles, I’ve made marks on the dowels that I roll the rings around so that I always make the cuts in exactly the same place. Then, with a little imagination and careful gluing, I’ve managed to create the simple tracery-style quilling that you see below. Experiments are ongoing!

tracery card

A new direction

I’ve always been fascinated by collage work, so recently decided to try and combine a little collage with quilling! When I relocated my craft room recently, I came across several drawers-full of patterned/coloured scraps of paper that I’ve been collecting ever since I first got ‘into’ crafts – and now their time has finally come!

Helen's card copyrighted

This card, made for my daughter-in-law, uses the ‘sandwich’ quilling strip border edging that I described in an earlier post, lined up around a green square (her favourite colour!) which I had printed on to a card blank. I used two flower-shaped templates to create an overlapping design drawn on to a piece of cardboard (you can see the templates I used and the layout in the picture below.) Being drawn on to card, the individual segments were easy to cut out and draw around with pencil on my chosen background papers … then it was just a simple matter of cutting the papers and fitting the resulting shapes together on the card. Once I had glued them in place, it was time to add some quilling!

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I created the ‘Happy Birthday Helen’ paper using my word processing software with a mix of typefaces to produce a typographical square which could be printed out.

As a result of all this, I’ve definitely got the collage ‘bug’ and can’t wait to start using lots more different background papers in future projects.  Watch this space!!

Yes, I do quill flowers … occasionally!!

It seems I’ve got a bit of a reputation … and deservedly so, because it’s based on an indisputable fact: I’m not particularly ‘into’ quilling flowers!!

I CAN quill them, of course, and I have made many, many of them in the past during my ‘card-making years’ – but these days my preference leans much more towards abstract work than conventional quilled ‘prettiness’. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, and I guess it shows in style of the work that I generally produce.

However … I did make an exception this year when I created a card to enter into one of the prestigious craft competitions at Taunton Flower Show – a very high-profile horticultural and country show staged annually in the South West of England.

The requirement was for a card to welcome the arrival of a new-born baby, and here’s my design, made to conform strictly to the competition criteria of ‘an original design using no commercially-made embellishments’:

It's a girl copyrighted

Flower close-up copyrightedI decided that, if I was going to make a quilled flower, it would definitely have to be a ‘wow factor’ one! So I set to work with a combination of huskings made on onion-holder prongs, ‘curly’ pixie-hood loops (as first pioneered by my friend Janetta van Roekel), teardrop shapes and a central fringed pom-pom using a graduated strip – all in one of my favourite colour combinations.

I quilled the lettering using a multi-strip outline technique that I learned from Jane Jenkins and which we are, incidentally, going to feature in the Autumn 2015 issue of ‘Quillers Today‘ magazine because I’m sure that many other quillers will be interested to try it.

Anyway, my decision to go down a more conventional, ‘prettily designed’ route definitely paid off, as I won an award for this particular card at the Flower Show. That really meant a very great deal to me since Taunton (where the Show was held) has always occupied a very special place in my heart.

It goes to prove, too, that exceptions do sometimes prove the rule … now, will my reputation remain intact?

The mother of invention?

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. In my case, however, it’s always been a passion for experimentation that drives me forward in my quilling. So experimentation is most definitely the mother of invention for me!

Back in the days when I was blogging more frequently than I’m able to do now, I had a bit of a reputation for trying out new ideas. So here, in that same vein, is another experiment of mine which might perhaps inspire others to get the creative ‘juices’ flowing!

tree copyright croppedThe inspiration for this quirky looking ‘tree’ came from an antique ostrich feather fan which I saw in a museum. I noticed that the shafts of the feathers were firmly fixed together side by side at the base of the fan, but the soft wispy parts of the feathers spread randomly up and away from their shafts to form an interesting, unstructured two-dimensional effect. With this in mind, I glued a bundle of strips together at their bases and twisted their remaining lengths randomly in a variety of closed coil, tendril and open coil shapes, rolling at an angle in order to lift the twists upwards to create random multi-dimensional patterns. I also experimented with crimping short sections of some of the strips to achieve added interest in terms of texture. This was achieved by gently folding the strips, inserting the fold into a crimping machine for a few short turns, reversing the cogs to release the strip and then straightening it out again. By doing this, it was possible to make a strip which has a small section of crimping along its inner length while the two ends remain flat.

I used this technique recently in another piece, too, in an attempt to create something that looks a bit like seaweed!

seaweed copyright cropped

The message behind all this, I suppose, is that quilling does not have to be conventionally two-dimensional or three-dimensional – it can actually end up as something in between! Vive la différence!

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.

 

 

A new flower blooms

DSCF6554I’ve used the ‘sandwich’ edging that I described in my earlier post to make a border for a new quilled flower which I was inspired to make by Cecelia Louie in her recent tutorial for creating outline flowers – you can find it on her ‘Paper Zen’ blog here.

I’ve always admired Cecelia’s work, and even more so since writing a review of her excellent new book Pretty Quilled Cards which appeared on my old Quilliance blog here. Cecelia created a flower by rolling a coil, pressing it unglued into a teardrop shape and then cutting through the rounded end to create lots of little petal-shaped segments. Great idea! I made some coils using two pink strips glued together along their length for extra strength, and chose to make my own cut through the pinched points to produce rounded petals. Like Cecelia, I then set about creating a flower using these little sections of curved pink strip, grouped around a central coil in a gently asymmetric fashion, just as you would see in nature. I have secured each petal with TINY little dots of glue on the ends, assembling the whole bloom on a clingfilm-covered board with pins.

My flower is edged with little white teardrops, all bordered around with a length of crimped purple strip.

I’ve always thought that cutting coils offers a great deal of creative potential. It reminded me of the ‘cut eccentric coils’ which I experimented with a few years ago – you can read about them here and here. Also, I really love the unusually open style that sections of gently curved, on-edge strips bring to quilling.

I was wondering what to do with this flower, and have decided to mount it on to a card ready to take to The Quilling Guild‘s forthcoming Annual General Meeting and Display of Work at Dereham, Norfolk, UK, in September. (Read all about it here.) The Guild is aiming to create a display of the greatest number of quilled flowers in one place which we hope may one day form part of a Guinness World Record attempt. Our initial target is 1,000 flowers, so there is still a lot of quilling to be done!

Feeling edgy!

If there’s one thing I have learned over the past few months, it is that two strips are often better than one … and multiple strips can open the door to a whole host of possibilities.

I’ve found that two standard quilling strips glued together along their length are great for use in ‘on-edge’ and open filigree work, as they can be readily curved and ‘sculpted’, just like working with light card. I suspect that it’s not just the extra thickness, but also the plasticity of the dried glue in between the two layers that helps them hold their shape so well.

Being me, of course, I’m not content with just joining a couple of strips together! In fact, I’ve been experimenting with creating multiple ‘sandwich’ strips which are nine, 12 or even 15 layers thick (see photo below)!

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This particular one is a 15-strip ‘sandwich’, made up from five separate parts: three strips of lime green glued together; three strips of olive green glued together; three strips of yellow glued together and then crimped while the glue is still wet; another three strips of olive green glued together; then three strips of brown glued together. I made each colour component separately, then joined the lime green to the olive, the olive to the yellow, the yellow to the olive etc and allowed the whole thing to dry thoroughly before use.

Once the glue between the all strips has completely dried (you have to be patient!), these ‘sandwich’ strips can be bent and shaped to form substantial edge pieces and borders for quilled designs. They even hold their shape when curved inwards for ‘concave’ shaped features, provided you apply a thin layer of glue to the underside.  When you just want straight sections, you can cut the sandwiched strip with scissors, although it requires a bit of effort – you could, alternatively, use a paper cutting knife (but be sure to mind your fingers while you cut!).

Here’s another example that I have used in a recent project …

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Sandwich incorporating two sets of gold-edged crimped strips

I’ve found that you need to use a minimum of three strips of each colour to make a strong visual impact. The addition of crimped sections adds interest to the overall effect.

 

 

I used my 15-strip ‘sandwich’ to make a border frame for a new quilled project which I will share in another post.

It’s great to be back!!