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Getting Started With Paper Quilling

Paper quilling is the art of coiling and shaping thin strips of paper into beautiful creations. These pieces can be added to a card to really dress it up, or could be a work of art on their own. Today I decided to try paper quilling for the first time.  It looks fun and I have seen so many amazing pieces of art from paper quilling that I want to try.  I plan to add some paper quilling to cards I will make in the future.  So, lets jump into it and play around with some paper quilling.   

There are two types of quilling tools, a slotted tool and an advanced unslotted tool.  I chose the slotted tool.  The slot just helps get your paper strip started off straight and limits it moving/sliding a little bit.  Use which ever one you feel more comfortable with.   

The first piece I tried to make was a heart.  I first started by placing one end of my paper strip through the slotted hole in the quilling tool.  Then I started curling that end around the quilling tool.  I found it was easier if you place one finger under the paper strip as a guide when quilling it.  This finger is used as a guide to keep the paper strip straight on the quilling tool.  I used more of my finger nail for this rather than the actual finger.  Another finger can be used to guide the paper strip and prevent it from moving upward on your quilling tool.  I found I liked this finger to be more at the top of the quilling tool or along the side guiding the paper where I want it to go. 

Once you have the amount of desired paper wrapped around your quilling tool, then gently push the paper off the quilling tool with the finger nail that was guiding the bottom of the paper strip.  This will help keep it aligned as it is taken off the quilling tool. If some of the paper unravels a little it is okay.  Now do the same thing to the other end of the paper strip.  You should have two pretty tight curls on both ends of your paper strip. 

I then used one finger to gently pull the curl in the opposite direction to uncurl it a little.  I did this to both sides.  The piece kind of forms the heart shape on its own, but carefully play with the paper till you are happy with its shape.  Then place a very small piece of glue between the two curls and hold for a few seconds with the tweezers.  Your hear is now finished.  My boyfriend also tried to make a heart.  His turned out a lot better than mine, because I cut my paper strip way to short and thus did not wrap the ends around the quilling tool enough.  I also did not use the tweezers, thus smashing the curls of mine a little when holding it while the glue dried. 

If you want your heart or another piece you make to be placed on a card or glued down to something else, then first squirt out a thin layer of glue onto a flat surface.  Then use your tweezers to carefully pick up your piece and dip it into the glue.  Be careful the curls do not get stuck in the glue when you pull your piece back out.  If it is a bigger piece, then you may want to dip smaller sections of the piece in the glue at a time.  This method will help keep the glue from getting all over your piece.  

Next, I tried an “S” like shape.  It was done pretty much the same way as the heart, but I opened my curls a little more.  I also wanted the curls to be going in opposite directions.  So, before starting the second curl I used the quilling tool and ran it along the paper strip, that was not yet curled.  This technique is similar to when you curl ribbon on a gift, but a lot easier to do. If you accidently do this in the wrong direction, then just do it again in the opposite direction.  The paper is pretty forgiving.  You can also add small curls or leaves to your design to add more detail to it.  Here I cut apart my heart I made earlier to see how they would look added to my “S” shape.   

Next, I decided to try out the crinkle machine.  It was very easy to use and works great, but I am not sure when I might want my pieces to be crinkled.  You just insert the paper strip into one side and rotate the top.  The piece will come out the other end with a nice crinkle to it.

I decided to try and make a heart with this crinkled piece of paper I just made.  So, I pinned it down inside the heart shaped piece with the cork under it.  I let it sit for a few minutes, then placed a little glue at the two ends and let it dry.  It turned out pretty good.  

Now for some fun random shapes.  I started off by making a tight coil, just roll the entire strip of paper around the quilling tool, and glue the end down before taking it off the quilling tool. 

You can even push the tight coil out a little or a lot to make other shapes.  When I pushed it out a lot it kind of looked like a carrot without the leafy greens or a unicorn horn.  I just used the back end of the quilling tool to do this.  I later learned the half circle shapes are suppose to be used to do this. So, I may try this out next time.

For the next piece I quilled another piece of paper all the way, but did not glue it.  Instead I let it uncoil itself a little inside the circle shape.  Once is stopped uncoiling, I glued the end down.  This is called an open coil. 

With the open coil I pinched both of its ends down to form a cat eye. 

You can also make a duck foot from the cat eye.  Once you have the cat eye shape (pinch the two ends of the open coil) just pinch the middle between the two ends.  You may want to also squeeze the entire piece towards the middle piece you just made to help shape it.   

If you pinch just one side of the open coil you can make a rain drop.  You could also bend the pinched end a little to give a little more character to the rain drop.  Note: The pieces in the photos looks a little rough because I used the same piece to try all of these different shapes, since I was just trying things, I did not want to waste a lot of paper.  So, this piece got handled and messed with a lot.  Also sorry some of my pictures are a little blurry. It is hard to hold the camera and the pieces at the same time. I should have checked them before moving on to the next thing.

I do not know much about paper quilling so I bought a little bit of everything.  After playing around with the paper quilling a little bit, I would recommend a few pieces to get you started.  One would be a quilling tool.  You can get the advanced one or the slotted one.  I personally like the slotted one, at least right now.  The slot seems to help keep the paper strip from sliding around quite so much.  The slot does create a small flat end at the center of your pieces, but it is pretty minimal.  I also recommend the corkboard with a few basic patterns in various sizes.  You can tear the paper with your fingers, but it makes a cleaner line if you use scissors.  Any scissors should do though.  The glue bottle with the very narrow tip is quite nice to have.  It will be less messy than using the toothpick I was using.  I saw a recommendation somewhere to put the glue container upside down in a container with a wet paper towel at the bottom.  This will allow the glue to always be ready to use and no need to squeeze it a few times waiting for the glue to come out and possibly getting too much glue at once.  The wet paper towel will also keep the glue from clogging or drying out at the tip.  So, this is something I will try next time when I am quilling for a while. 

I also highly recommend the tweezers.  These are great for holding things as they dry so you do not mess up your designs like I did with the heart.  They also help you pick up the pieces.  They need to be these very small tweezers with the bend at the end. I also think the pins to help hold things in place could be nice to have.  I have not used the comb like thing yet, but I saw a few ideas I might try the comb with.  So, we will see how that goes.  Lastly you will need the paper strips.  If you have a Cricut you could cut your own paper strips.  I bought my paper strips from Ebay, and they were not too expensive.  I did not use the other tools much, but maybe I will use them more in the future.   Below is the Amazon link to the paper quilling kit I purchased as well as the Ebay link where I bought my paper strips.

This post may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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