Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Beginning Quilling

Quilling underwater project with fish, starfish and seaweed.

Today the boys and I had fun playing with quilling. I found some quilling paper that I had bought years ago for Katie, and I thought it would be fun for the boys to play with it a bit bit.

Wikipedia has a better description and history of this art than I could make, so I thought I would include this quote:
Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape. The paper is glued at the tip and the coil shaped, these shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork. During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. The paper most commonly used was strips of paper trimmed from the gilded edges of books. These gilded paper strips were then rolled to create the quilled shapes. Quilling often imitated the original ironwork of the day. In the 18th century, quilling became popular in Europe where gentle ladies of quality ("ladies of leisure") practiced the art. It was one of the few things ladies could do that was thought not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions. Quilling also spread to the Americas and there are a few examples from Colonial times.-Wikipedia

The first thing we did was jot down some ideas of the things we wanted to make. Flowers and fish are good starting projects.

Then the boys practiced making shapes -circles, ovals, almond shapes and triangles by curling the quilling paper strips. It is a bit tricky to do, and takes some patience. James liked taping the finished shapes rather than gluing them. They are typically glued so it won't show.

I have some quilling tools, although I could only find one of them this morning. I actually prefer this kind for younger quillers to the one pictured because it has a little slot to slip the end of the quilling paper strip in to hold it. The tools help to make tight circles, but you could use a large embroidery needle, plastic canvas needle or even a pencil, if you don't mind the circles not being too tight.

Whatever tool you decide to use, you wrap the paper tightly around the tool until it is the size you want it to be. By the way, you don't have to use the special quilling paper strips which come in a variety of widths. You can cut your own paper strips any width you would like (larger the better for smaller hands) out of construction paper or other thick paper. The quilling paper is just pre-cut into even widths and are of a perfect weight paper to hold up without tearing and yet easy to curl.

Glue the end of the paper to the roll and shape as you wish. Some people like to use a small piece of cork or a ceiling tile to pin the pieces together with straight or hat pins before gluing them down to the background. I did not do this step with the young boys.
You can get as creative as you wish with your quilling art work, including making some 3-D designs (here is an example), but remember that it takes more concentrated effort and patience than you might expect, so with young students, I would suggest trying a small creation, like the index card-sized creation at the top, which was done as a collaborative effort by my 7 and 10 year old with my help.


  1. Quilling a neat craft. I've done it occasionally over the years but am not an expert.

  2. Thank you for the history on it. I had never heard of its background before. And the quilling projects turned out just beautiful!

  3. Awesome project! Years ago, I purchased a book with quilling ideas, but was always intimidated by the process. I love the way you jump in and do it.

  4. They showed amazing patience. I don't know if I'd have the patience for quilling......

    I didn't know the historical background.

  5. Phyllis! You taught me something today. I have seen this before but didn't know what it was called. What a wonderful project. Kei will LOVE this!

  6. Very neat projects, and thanks for the historical info. We have a Klutz brand paper curling kit that the girls really wanted, but then they haven't done much with...I need to get that out again and see if they'd be interested now.

  7. I think they did an amazing job. I've tried quilling before but found it really tricky to get the hang of. It looks so pretty though, maybe I'll just have to give it another go :)

  8. This is fantastic! Love the project, the background, and the fun finished product.

  9. It's so pretty and fun!
    I'll be ready again soon! :)


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