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!!




My moment of glory!


On Saturday 17th September 2016, I was awarded my Higher Level Accreditation certificate and Fellowship of The Quilling Guild by Josie Jenkins, Chairman of the Guild, following our Annual General Meeting in York.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful occasion for me. I will let the photos speak for themselves …





I’m delighted to say that I also won First Prize (Masters) for Technical Ability with this piece in the Guild’s annual competitions too:



Onward and upward … my Accreditation story

I launched this new blog of mine back in July 2014 with the momentous words: “It’s FINISHED!!!! The huge quilling project that I’ve been working on for the past 7 months is finally complete, but I will not be able to post anything publicly about it for quite a while yet …”

Quite a while indeed. Only now, almost two years later, can I finally reveal that I had in fact been working on my submission for The Quilling Guild‘s Higher Level Accreditation scheme … an immense personal challenge which has at last resulted in success:

Quilling Guild announcement

As explained on the Accreditation page of The Quilling Guild’s website, “The Higher Level of Accreditation demands a standard of quilling knowledge and ability which can only be achieved after many years of practice.” To enter, I had to produce a sampler folder comprising 190 different variations of recognised quilling techniques, all of which were subjected to stringent examination by a panel of experts during the assessment process. To accompany this, I was also required to submit up to five pieces of original quilled artwork to demonstrate a broad scope of expertise in different types of quilling. Wanting to give the process my very best shot, I opted to submit the full five.

It was a massive task. The sampler alone took months to complete, as I strove for perfection one shape at a time. For the Accreditation, all the sampler shapes have to be glued on to black paper, which is guaranteed to show up any accidental blobs of glue you leave behind. Needless to say, the assessors will deduct marks if your shapes are not neat and regular, and also if any glue is showing.

You are supplied with a comprehensive information pack which describes in detail exactly what the assessors are looking for in every technique – and you have to dig deep into your own quilling experience/knowledge to come up with additional variations which not only conform to the guidelines but also differ significantly from each other.

The samplers are divided into six technique categories: Closed Loose Coils, Wheatears, Open Coils, Alternate Side Looping, Tight Coils, Fringed Flowers/Pom Poms and ‘Other Techniques’ such as zig-zagging, bandaging and crimping which have their origins in antique quilling. In order to pass, you have to score at least 50% of the possible marks in each category. Accreditation cannot be awarded if marks for any one technique fall below 50%.

I did not pass first time. I fell short of the required mark in one of the categories – Closed Loose Coils – so had to re-submit that section. But, far from being a disaster, there were actually two very positive aspects to this. Firstly, I was able to ‘bank’ the marks I had already attained in all the other categories, so there was no need to do those over again. Secondly – and perhaps most important – I had learned so much and gained such a lot of valuable practice in tackling my first batch of coils that I knew I could do better second time around.

So, I re-submitted my Closed Loose Coils, and opted to repeat my Open Coils, too, because I was confident that I could improve on my original mark.

As any quiller will know, Closed Loose Coils and Open Coils are essentially similar in terms of the rolling technique that is required. For the Accreditation, you need to create spirals which are perfectly round, begin in the perfect centre, and have ‘spiracles’ (the ever-increasing circles which form a coil) that are perfectly equally spaced. Easier said than done, especially in the case of Closed Loose Coils which have to be made using 22.5 cm (9 inch) strips and must turn out no less than 13 mm (half an inch) in diameter.

If you can discern the difference between the two coils below, you are well on your way to appreciating what a perfect Closed Loose Coil should be:

Coil 1Coil 2

The coil on the left was my first attempt (glued down with trembling hands at the height of a storm, just at the moment of a power cut – but that’s another story!!). The coil on the right was my re-submitted version, and turned out much closer to what the assessors were looking for.

My ‘light bulb’ moment occurred, not as you might expect during the power cut (!!), but afterwards when I realised the true meaning of the words “a perfect spiral must begin in the perfect centre”. From that moment on, I saw the light and began to perfect my finger-rolling technique.

Now, I know that the question of whether or not to use a quilling tool has always been a controversial one. Personally, I have never used a slotted tool, as the kinked appearance of the centres of the resulting coils has always been unacceptable to me. I approached my Accreditation challenge as a firm believer in the needle tool, but even this did not give me the means to produce “perfect spirals that begin in the perfect centre”. So, kicking and screaming, I reluctantly converted to the ranks of those quillers who roll with their fingers. I have never looked back.

I learned that if you condition a strip thoroughly with your fingernail (on both sides) before rolling, and then roll it up roughly just to get a basic degree of curve in it, you can then unwind it, form a proper centre, and re-roll gently between your fingers to form a true spiral. I learned to roll and re-roll coils repeatedly, adjusting the tension as necessary. Eventually – and it did take practice – I began to witness the miracle of near-perfect coils forming themselves in my hands.

Absolute perfection is, of course, impossible – but I learned that if you have a clear picture in your mind of exactly what you are aiming for, significant improvements are absolutely within your grasp!

Applying this approach to my Open Coils, too, I managed to increase my Accreditation marks to the point where I actually achieved a Pass with Distinction!!

Make no mistake: the whole Accreditation process was very, very challenging. However, looking back on it all, I can honestly say that it was very, very, very rewarding too!

Of course, the samplers were only part of my Accreditation story. I also had to submit my five pieces of artwork which, although accounting for 20% of the overall marks, were crucial to the overall success of my submission. Without telling you what they were for, I have already featured some of my pieces here on the blog.

Here they are again:

SeahorsesYou can read more about this piece, which I’ve called “A trio of seahorses”, here.

Bordering on Antiquity

You can read more about this piece, “Bordering on antiquity”, here.

Black pearl montageI wanted to include a 3D piece as well as quilled pictures, so created this little paper sculpture called “Black pearl” – more details here.


Plus I also included this piece which was my attempt to translate Zentangle™ patterns into quilling, using ‘on-edge’ graphic techniques.


%22Quilled mosaic%22

Finally, you’ll find details of this quilled mosaic on my old blog here.

I am very proud to say that my Accreditation work will be placed on show at The Quilling Guild’s forthcoming Annual Meeting in York on 17th September 2016.

After that – who knows? I plan to focus on raising awareness of quilling as an art form and passing on what I have learned to others through demonstrations and workshops. I am very much looking forward to demonstrating quilling as part of the Taunton Live 2016 arts festival in July, where some of my quilled pictures will also be exhibited. Plus I have another exhibition to prepare for in Spring 2017 at Gallery 55 in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire.

Some may say that I am a glutton for punishment, but I couldn’t be happier. Quilling is now an integral part of my life, and I am more proud of this Accreditation achievement than anything I have ever done. Onward and upward indeed …

An undersea fantasy

Octopus copyrighted

Now that the Quilling Guild‘s competitions for 2015 are over, I can finally share with you my ‘fantasy octopus’ which is pictured here.

This piece comprises literally thousands of quilled pieces, which took me well over six months to complete and assemble! The shape of the octopus is bordered with tiny solid coils (all fastidiously made without holes in the middle!), while the grey infill pieces are a combination of tiny ‘S’ shaped open coils and mini vortexes.

The suckers are all solid coils made using sequential permutations of two carefully chosen sets of colours. They vary in size to reflect the pulsating movement of an octopus when it swims. On some tentacles two rows of suckers are showing, while on others there is only one row; this reflects the way the octopus constantly rotates its ‘limbs’ as it moves through the water.

I mounted the octopus on a multi-layered ‘mat’ of specialist papers to create a semi-transparent watery effect. This was accidentally enhanced when the piece was on public display in a marquee earlier this year, where high humidity and condensation produced unintentional ‘ripples’ in the background water in an unexpected act of serendipity!!

The photo you see above was taken BEFORE the marquee experience, which occurred when I entered the octopus into a competition at the highly prestigious Taunton Flower Show in August. I’m delighted to say that the piece received an award at the show, which was especially gratifying considering that it was judged up against pieces made using many other ‘mainstream’ craft techniques such as embroidery and cross-stitch. Below you can see a photo of it at the show, in its ‘rippled’ state – which I now consider to have been a very ‘happy accident’!


Musings of a magazine editor

Such is the power of social media that I seem to be picking up new ‘Followers’ of my blog and ‘Likers’ of my Facebook page at an amazing rate, despite the fact that I haven’t actually published any new material on either of them for ages! Suffice to say that life, death and family matters have conspired to divert me from playing a particularly active role in the world of quilling over the past couple of months … and all this has unfortunately kept Quilliance very quiet indeed.

So, finally, I am ready to break the silence and re-connect with all my wonderful online friends again. But, do you know what? The truth is, I’ve gone and done it again! Yes, folks, I’ve embarked on another huge new quilling project that I can’t actually blog about yet because it’s destined for entry into this year’s Quilling Guild competitions, and must therefore remain under wraps. D’oh!! Being the glutton for punishment that I am, it’s a complicated piece which is going to include well in excess of 1,500 tight pegs – some plain, some multi-coloured and ALL of them finger-rolled without holes in the middle! I must be mad!

I AM going to try and develop a few more new quilling ideas alongside this project, however, so hopefully I will be able to produce enough new interesting posts to justify my followers’ continuing interest in me.

Meanwhile, I can tell you that I’m also getting busy again preparing features for ‘Quillers Today’, The Quilling Guild‘s exclusive members’ magazine. I’m SO excited about the forthcoming Spring edition! One of the best things about being a magazine editor is that you never know quite what the next email or postal delivery is going to bring – and I’ve received some amazing material from members in recent weeks, including some breathtaking examples of antique quilling that, as far as I know, have never been seen in public before! The filigree work created by 16th and 17th Century Carmelite nuns is already well documented in quilling history, but did you know that the tradition of quilling in Carmelite monasteries continues to this day? Well, neither did I until I learned of it recently from some newly-recruited members of The Quilling Guild … and what I’ve discovered is going to make a fabulous feature in the magazine! If you don’t want to miss it, simply join us as a Member of The Quilling Guild. The next magazine is due to be published in early Spring.

Another source of excitement is the fact that I’ve just been asked to stage a workshop for a very enthusiastic young quiller’s 9th birthday party next month – that should be a lovely, if chaotic, experience! I’ll let you know how I get on.

Well, there you go – I’ve broken my silence at last. And I really will try not to leave it so long next time!

Happy new year everyone!

Bordering on Antiquity

Bordering on Antiquity

I have just returned from The Quilling Guild’s fabulous AGM and Display weekend in Dereham, Norfolk, and am still buzzing with excitement over the fact that I received THREE awards for one of my competition entries!!

This framed piece, which I call ‘Bordering on Antiquity’ is one of the ‘secret’ pieces which I had been working on during all my months of blogging silence last winter/spring – finally, I have the opportunity to share it with you here!

The awards I received were:
First Place in the Masters category for Colour Sense
First Place for Technical Ability
First Place for Intricacy
… and I simply could not feel more proud.

Here are some notes that I wrote earlier about what inspired me to make the piece and how I went about creating it:

This piece was designed to explore some of the border decoration techniques seen in antique quilling and bring them together in a modern design.

Chichester Cathedral windowMy inspiration came from an interest in the concept of overlapping/interlocking circles and, in particular, a modern stained glass window seen in Chichester Cathedral (shown here) whose design I very much admire.

I wanted the background for my design to be a rich gold colour, and this influenced my choice of bright, complementary colours for the quilling which I wanted to ‘jump off the page’ as if lit from behind (rather like the stained glass window). The borders for the circle sections were hand-cut from light card which I knew would hold its shape after being curved to the necessary radius. The card I chose for the brown circle borders is semi-metallic with a slightly bronzed effect to complement the sparkling metallic edges of some of the quilled sections. With the exception of the fringed flower petals, all the strips used in this project were 3mm in width.

Corner viewI began by creating some overlapping circle and spiral shapes on my computer, set within a square border. I printed this out and placed it under clingfilm on a mounting board into which pins could be inserted. To delineate the square border, I ‘bandaged’ and cut to size four batches of strips which were glued together at the corners and held in place with pins. I then cut and curved the cardboard strips for the circular and spiral sections, gluing them into position and securing with pins. These marked out the various sections which I wanted to fill using techniques seen in antique quilling.

Techniques used:

Spiral: tight pegs and an alternating pattern of closed loose coils and curved teardrops, seen in the 19th century instructions for Mosaicon.

Border of oval ‘medallions’ made using shaped tight pegs edged with gold, closed loose coils and an outer ‘sandwich’ edge comprising plain and crimped (metallic) strips. The medallions are separated by ring coils. Use of such medallions is described in Brenda Rhodes’ ‘History of the Art of Quilling’ as an 18th century technique.

Shaped ring coil joined to tight pegs and two leaf shapes, leading the eye to the central point of the design. The shaped ring coil is another example from the Mosaicon instructions.

Border of ‘S’ coils and huskings following a suggested border design which also comes from the Mosaicon instructions.

Border comprising open coil ‘cherries’, vortex coils and teardrops, spaced using closed loose coils – my own invention – inside a ‘sandwich’ of plain and crimped metallic strips.

Pom-pom style fringed flower made by overlapping sloping strips of orange and yellow paper, with three-colour wheatear petals and a green ‘tendril’, mounted on a tight peg to raise it above the level of the circular borders.

The main challenge encountered when making this piece was scaling the border components to fit reducing-width curves, achieved by careful experimentation!

I was pleased with the way this piece turned out, but never dreamed that it would achieve such success in The Quilling Guild’s competitions. It just goes to prove, once again, that you should always expect the unexpected!

Placement cards