Category Archives: Techniques

My book – the final countdown!

A glimpse of the front cover artwork

The final proofs have been checked and signed off … and now my book – ‘QUILLING – THE ART OF PAPER FILIGREE’ – is going off to print, ready for worldwide publication in July 2019!

This photo shows the quilled piece which I created especially for the photograph on the front cover.

Apart from a brief outing at the Quilling Guild‘s Celebration Weekend last year, I’ve been keeping it largely ‘under wraps’ until now.

The time has now come, I feel, to tell the whole story of how the idea of the book first came into being.

It had never been my intention to write a book, as I am always kept busy in my role as Editor of Quillers Today magazine for Guild members, in addition to my own quilled projects. Out of the blue, however, I was contacted by the Commissioning Editor of the UK-based Crowood Press at the end of February last year, stating that they wanted to commission a practical book on quilling – and would I be interested in writing it for them?

At first, I hesitated. The requirement for 25,000 – 30,000 words and 150+ photos sounded like an awful lot of work on top of all my other commitments! As an experienced freelance writer, however – (my past career for many years) – I knew that I could do it … but I felt equally clear about the the only type of book I’d be prepared to write.

My book would have to be different from all the other project-based books that currently proliferate in the crafting market. It would be a comprehensive ‘how-to’ guide presenting every aspect of quilling in all its inspirational variety. It would deal with hands-on practicalities in a very detailed way, seeking to encourage readers’ own innate creativity through the mastery of technique.

I shared this viewpoint with the Editor, who replied reassuringly that “it seems we both want to publish the same book”!

I was hooked. I brainstormed a synopsis for the work over the course of a weekend, and from that point on – once contracts had been signed – the book literally powered its way out of my head like an express train!!

It took me nine months in total, with several weeks’ break during the Summer which were taken up fulfilling various arts festival and other commitments.

The writing was completed just before Christmas 2018. I was told that the manuscript would be passed to a Copy Editor who might suggest changes or raise queries if anything didn’t make sense. There were none! My copy and photographs were passed straight through to the typesetter without any requests for alterations. When the layout came back to me for proof-reading, the corrections needed were minimal. Such a smooth passage through the production process has boosted my confidence no end! Now the files are being passed to an overseas printer, and I must wait patiently for delivery of the printed books which will eventually arrive in the UK by container ship, in time for publication in July.

Once published, it will be available to order (internationally) through the publisher’s website, as well as being sold through bookshops. I will share more information about this just as soon as I am able.

Meanwhile, patience (tempered by a degree of trepidation!) is the order of the day.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute of the process. This book means more to me than all the brochures, newsletters and PR features I wrote throughout a lengthy freelance career in marketing, most of which now lie forgotten in a box, unlooked at and unloved. Quilling has undoubtedly become my life in recent years … and this book will surely be my legacy.

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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!

 

 

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:

DSCF7386

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!

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!

DSCF7237

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?