Quilling: the art of paper curls

Quilling is an art known since ancient times and is also called paper filigree. Mainly these consisted of devotional works of art, but they were also created as decorative art in the Stuart period (1603-1714) as a pastime hobby for the ladies of high society. 

Quilling: The art technique in which paper takes new forms When we think about paper, we usually imagine it as a flat sheet, which is a two-dimensional space on which to draw, paint, print or write. 

What happens if we cut it, roll it up, and fold it? The paper takes a 3D shape and allows us to create artworks.

Some of the magnificent artworks made with the quilling technique by Yulia Brodskaya. Credits: Mymodernmet.com

Some of the magnificent artworks made with the quilling technique by Yulia Brodskaya. 

Quilling, or paper filigree, is not just the exclusive prerogative of artists, as it can be enjoyed by everyone.

One of the artworks of Sarah Yakawonis, by quilling she created this text by folding and curling strips of coloured paper.

We interviewed Elena Marconato, who is mainly involved in designing, creating and running educational courses and workshops. They are used as a way to stimulate creative and critical thinking, in addition to developing student’s sensory capabilities. Thanks to Elena we will understand the importance and value of quilling, in particular for children at primary and secondary school level.

Interview with Elena Marconato: The benefits of quilling for children 

What is quilling?

Essentially, it is about the rolling of simple strips of paper to create curls, circles and geometric shapes. This very beautiful and relatively easy technique can be adapted for various school groups. In fact, for younger children the technique adopted is simply by using strips that can be rolled up between the fingers.

With primary school children, we can offer activities that are slightly more demanding by presenting them with useful tools to aid the process. The simplicity of the raw material, paper, allows us to obtain extremely colourful results, as offered by the wide range of colours available with Cartotecnica Favini.

What can be made using this technique?

Quilling is a technique that is well suited for a variety of project applications. For the youngest children, many curls of coloured paper can be used to decorate a frame or a card. For older children, the card allows us, for example, to form and build a series of animals. Just give the right size to the paper strips and roll them up and follow a pattern.

However, as soon as a child becomes familiar with the material and with a simple needle (which we can made at home!) they can decorate beautiful initial letters or even create colourful jewellery.

What are the benefits that a child derives from quilling techniques?

It is beneficial for the development of fine motor skills. Centring around promoting a child’s manual dexterity through hand to eye coordination and with the aim of performing refined and precise movement. This is an essential step in the development and growth of a child.

The exercise helps a child to perform movement and use abilities that will help in developing self-management and spatial organization, ultimately to reach a goal for task autonomy.

In addition to motor skills, are there other points in favour of quilling?

The development of fine motor skills, quilling has three additional benefits:

  • By “doing” and repeating movements and actions children experience the concept of cause and effect: each action corresponds to a reaction; 
  • The repetition of the movement is not monotonous as the creative possibilities are infinite, so on the contrary, it helps to promote confidence for a child. 
  • Achieving a successful result strengthens a child’s self-confidence (and more).

Which papers do you prefer?

From the results that are obtained, you would think that such exacting work would demand specialist materials for its creation. In reality, we start with simple materials, such as paper. I prefer to use Le Cirque by Cartotecnica Favini with the children in 160gsm.

The assortment of colours offers a very attractive result in the work for the little ones. The papers will then be cut to obtain strips of various lengths.

If we want to work in an ecological way, we can also recycle paper that has already been used, or use one of the papers produced by Favini from creative reuse. Once cut into the strips, this paper turns out to be a superb product with an eye on the environment.

Are there other useful materials needed for quilling?

On the market, it is possible to find tools to create the various forms that are the basis of our works. But we can work very well by using materials that can easily be found in our homes and with everyday recycled materials. In fact, the needle to roll the paper may be easily constructed using a wool needle and a simple cork or a pencil with a rubber. A simple comb helps us to make spikes and bows.

Quilling is a creative and educational activity for children, not only from the development of motor skills and hand to eye skills, but also for the stimulation of creativity.

Some pieces made with quilling by Elena Marconato to create shapes, animals, letters or accessories.

With the quilling, or paper filigree, a child is educated to recycle and respect the resources: from the paper to the tools used to roll up and create shapes; as everything can easily be found in the home, reused and recycled. 

This spirit of course is perfectly in line with the philosophy of creative reuse that is followed by Favini for the development of new innovative and sustainable products. Favini’s research into new raw materials from alternative materials to cellulose, such as algae and agro-industrial by-products and leather goods processing has led into the production of the eco papers of Shiro, Crush and Remake. 

Favini paper reams are available with different surface finishes and different thicknesses that can further stimulate tactile perception. Furthermore, the vast assortment of colours offers the children visual stimulation. 

Are you curious to have a go at the quilling technique? Elena Marconato offers some ideas and examples to see what we can achieve by simply rolling paper. 

If we want to have fun making animals such as a butterfly or bird, Elena recommends to cut strips of paper 2.5 cm wide from sheets of Favini Burano paper 200gsm. Once the strips have been prepared, using a pencil, they can be rolled and shaped into the desired shapes.

A butterfly made with quilling with coloured Favini Le Cirque paper strips.

It is not only animals, that can be made by quilling from simple strips of paper you can also make original letters and earrings. In these cases, it is recommended to use a domestic pasta machine that cuts the homemade pasta. When doing it this way the strips obtained will be uniform and around 3mm wide.

Quilling allows us to create very original accessories, like these Favini’s paper earrings.

The letter in the photo is made using strips of Favini paper rolled and shaped.

Source: favini.com

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