Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Quilling a housewarming card

Some friends have a new home so I wanted to quill a "Happy Housewarming!" card for them.

I glued the heart outlines first to set the boundaries. Then I trimmed a popsicle stick on an angle to match the heart angle and set that in place. When making the house, I realized it was too big for the space and trimmed it down – I do that often. Just eyeball and adjust on the go. Same with the birds. They were too large at first, so I made them smaller by making the tails longer.

I used Aunt Berni's left over strips, and wow, it was fun! Why? By using what she had on hand, I was forced to use the colors on hand in whatever size was there. I don't normally use so many colors in this way and am happy with how lively and vibrant it turned out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How to organize messy quilling strips

This "before" shot is so typical of our quilling supply box, isn't it?

Here it is all cleaned up (on the right hand side). Past blog readers may recall my quilling storage box custom made to fit my Ikea drawers. After inheriting Aunt Berni's quilling supplies, I realized I didn't have enough spare room in my box and needed to condense it in my existing box trays.

So I removed the dividing walls on one layer and used thumbtacks to make those strips behave! This is a version of the thumb tack quilling storage method I've done in the past too. So how did I wave a magical wand to make this happen?

Sadly it's not that magical - just a lot of patience, which we quillers know about first hand. First I separated all of one color.

One by one, I lined up the ends of one side. If they were really unruly, I'd trim them. Then I pinched them with reverse tweezers (bulldog clips work too) and applied glue across all the ends. I have worked in a small print shop before and this is how note pads are made – on a much smaller scale of course. Allow it to dry completely.

I never trash small strips even at 1" in length because they are super handy in a case like this. I wrap them around the tidy end first, and slide it toward the messy end, aligning as I go. It reminds me of those paper belts wrapped around stacks of money.

As you can see, I used two such bands here but some may need three if it's a larger amount of strips or really wavy. Then I proceeded to crimp/glue the opposite ends and allowed it to dry.

Some strips may have glue remnants after much usage. Just look at the amazing quality Aunt Berni's strips had in the 70's! Not only was the glue thicker, but some also had a membrane of thread. They don't make them like they used to.

Using scissors, I trimmed the overhanging glue ends. After amassing these little bundles of similar colors, I glued the whole thing yet again to another strip of quilling paper to give the whole thing more substance and strength.

Working one end at a time, I re-glued all of Aunt Berni's strips together again. I did not choose to treat the opposite end the same way because she had varying lengths of paper, just as we do today when buying from different venders. Using thumb tacks, I attached the neat end to my foam core and working one batch at a time, tacked the opposite end until they became a tamed lion's mane.

I still like my binder method of storing leftover shorter strips, but I was on a roll by now and decided to try doing it to this as well. Hubby thinks I'm nuts, but actually I didn't want to mix up her slightly thicker strips with my contemporary papers. Oh admit it - it's more inviting to quill with now right?

What storage or organizational methods do you find works for you?

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After asking my readers how they organize their quilling strips, I heard from Julia from Latvia. Coincidentally, she had just finished her rainbow of supplies and wanted to share her colorful method. Her main requirements were to access any color immediately, and to not have any loose strips flying away.

She decided to use binder clips and a portable drying rack to view her collection, while allowing her to retrieve either a single strip or the whole pack. She hopes to label each binder clip with the color number to make re-ordering easier.

I admit I wish my drawers were deeper so I could view all my strips at one time. Way to organize Julia! Thanks for letting me share your idea with other quillers!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Precious Memories Class: 3 Styles of Quilled Flowers

I'm going to teach another class at Precious Memories on Thursday, Sept 25, from 6:30-9pm! For this class, I plan to show several ways to quill flowers, from traditional teardrop shapes, to my open-petal style, and finally to 3D die cut fringed blossoms.

The tetra pak is my favorite party favor because it's so quick and simple to make. We will be adding 6 traditional teardrop shapes and some greenery on top. You can download the template here on my past post: DIY Party Favor. When it's made of vellum, it's fun to give that visual tease when they see a hint of what's inside. 

This greeting card is made of simple squares, which frames the open-style flowers I show in my new book, Pretty Quilled Cards. I can imagine it being used for so many occasions!

I don't own a Big Shot die cutter, so I'm grateful to have the chance to try it at Precious Memories. Since they also have all letters of the alphabet and a GrandeMark, I thought a monogram was a great way to use 3D fringed flowers. The 5 flowers seen here are various die cuts (roses, fringed mums, wildflowers) made from Quilled Creations. Each student will receive a letter of their choice and the same flowers seen here (shadow box and background card stock not included).

Precious Memories is a local scrapbook store, and is the only place I know of in the Lower Mainland to stock an entire wall of quilling paper and supplies. Hurray! I can finally find quilling supplies without going online.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Tribute to Aunt Berni

I received a message through FaceBook from Kirsten the other day, whose Aunt Berni passed away a few years ago. While cleaning out her belongings, Kirsten and her mom found a box of quilling supplies and wanted to find someone who would appreciate and use her supplies. I was the incredibly lucky person they found, and I wanted to express my gratitude by writing a tribute to her aunt by showcasing her work and tools.

Berni (Bernice Spencer Wilmeth) enjoyed quilling flowers and created this lovely bouquet full of a variety of blossoms. There's something about ovals that frame a bouquet nicely. Kirsten tells me the quilling is on top of olive green raw silk - can you imagine using that in your craft room? I've never thought about quilling on top of fabric. My favorite is the blossom near the middle, shown from the side in a range of pinks. A similar, smaller bud is just to the left of it.

Here is a basket of flowers she made. Can you see all the layering involved here in the basket weaving and overlapping flowers? Can you imagine the patience it took to place all those elements? They didn't have Zig glue back then!

I now know how archeologists must feel, with fingers tingling to peel back the years, uncovering treasure. Her box of half-made shapes were safely stored in a hosiery box. Unopened strips were .49 cents for 50 strips, purchased at American Handicraft.

This is the slotted quilling tool Berni used - Hazel's Quill Quiky! Don't you just love this retro teal? My mom had a hand blender in this color. There is a hand cranked slotted tool and a disk with circle template. Turn the disk over to uncover a storage area for pins. They're used for making eccentric coils and maquise shapes. I think they took more care back then to ensure they were very even.

The slot is similar to ones I've seen for making paper beads. One hand holds the strip in place and the other cranks the lever on the opposite side. Even though the turning isn't smooth anymore (perhaps needs cleaning or from disuse), the tension is extremely even!
She had 4 books from the 70s, some purchased from F&W Smith for 1 dollar. The basic beginner shapes are similar to the ones we have today. They used a corsage pin as a needle tool back then.

And oh, the paper! Sigh, just look at these gorgeous colors! They are earthy without being drab, vibrant without being bright. Can you see a hint of texture? They are also ever so slightly thicker than our usual fare and I look forward to trying them out. Wish I could buy this kind of paper today!

Was it kismet that my neighbor had 4 nieces visiting from Norway and Canada, and they asked for a quilling demo? Of course after making some simple hearts, they were asking where to buy supplies. They were leaving in a few days and wouldn't have time to shop while fitting in time with relatives. So I gave them the majority of the paper, in hopes that quilling may now be rekindled abroad.

Beyond quilling, Berni's talents lay in oil painting, sewing (clothes, quilts, purses), cooking, decorating, and flower arranging. She always wanted a little store – in today's world of Etsy and e-stores, I think she would have had quite a successful business. I'm so grateful to Kirsten and her family for letting me showcase Berni's quilling and supplies!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cut-Coil Quilling A Reverse Monogram

This 2" thumbnail is from my sketch book. At first I had planned to make quilled teardrops surround a letter shape, then remove the letter and allow the negative space be the monogram. Then I realized the Cut-Coil technique could be something better to experiment with.

I do enjoy the stately look of serifs, and placed my previously made cut-coil flower gift tags underneath a letter E to help imagine how it might turn out. I felt the serifs would cut into the flowers too much, so opted for a sans serif font instead. The one I chose to use is Amaranth, Bold, at 500 pt (a free font from Font Squirrel).

After cutting it out of card stock, I turned it upside down to add "plinths" made of quilling strips I trimmed in half widths. This made it the perfect mid-way height to fence in my quilling – not too high or low. 

After making solid coils and gluing them to all the corners, I dabbed the circles with Zig 2-way glue. When it's dry, it allows me to place my letter onto my work surface and keep it in place. When I'm done quilling, I can remove it without leaving a mark. I will sometimes even use it for my quilled pieces when I'm not sure of the placement but need to keep the elements tame until I'm ready for permanent glue.

Although I tried to make a video to explain this process, I haven't quite figured out all the technical kinks so am going to re-iterate my process a bit more fully here again.

I chose to use 3 colors that came in 26" lengths: 4 Red, 6 Fuschia, and 5 Pink were used in total for this entire project. I made a small inner coil to start off the flower (left), then made 5 coils of 4" lengths, wrapped around a skewer stick to ensure I got larger rings.

Using fine tip tweezers, I pushed the coils toward the end of the outermost ring. Then I pinched the opposite side. I snipped through all the layers and have my cut coils.

 Placing a finger lightly on the coils, I separate them one by one using tweezers.

Here are all the components I had anticipated using for one large flower.

Starting with the inner coil, I glue the smallest cut pieces all around it. I simply keeping picking up the smallest pieces, rotate the flower until the petal appears to fit well, before gluing permanently. As it comes in contact with the letter, I flow around it.

When I first imagined the challenge of how the petals would interact with the letter's outer edges, I had assumed I'd want to cut the flower petal midway, to make it appear to be peeking from behind the letter.

However, after removing the E, I realized that's the wrong look completely. I now plan to remove those snipped petals. How did I remove glued quilled items?

I lay an x-acto knife it on it's edge and slowly slice into the glue, separating the paper as best as possible.

The paper fibers on my surface are ruffled up, so I use the other end of my quilling tool and slide it over my surface to smoothen it out. I do plan to glue a full petal in this space, so the residual marring won't be very noticeable.

Here is the start of my quilled monogram. I plan to soften the harder letter lines with added petals so it's not so deliberate-looking.

Here's the next stage where the E is taking more shape.

I think it's 95% there but will take the time to look at it with fresh eyes on another day and fill in the spots I think need filling. Honestly, I don't know if this is what I had in mind. I wanted the flowers to flow more into one another and I had thought the petals on the edge of the letter would be less obstructed looking.

One student at my quilling demo the other day admitted she was hesitant to start quilling even though she had wanted to for years. I was surprised because in my mind, it's just paper – not a huge investment. However, at the beginning of this I was hesitant in case it "didn't work out" and feared investing my emotional disappointment. In fact, I was assembling the flowers without gluing them to the surface, which took excruciatingly long to do – just so I could move them around until I had the "perfect" spot for them. I made 3 flowers this way, then gave up or else I'd never be done. Now I have a much better appreciation for her tentativeness in trying something new. In the end, I realize the only way to learn if this was going to turn out was to simply "do it"!

I'm often asked how long it takes me to quill a project. It took 3 weeks to reach this stage in between my job and life. I often start a timer at the beginning of a project, to record a true time, and I've never successfully remembered to either shut it off when the phone rings or turn it back on after dinner.

Does anyone else have a method of tracking time that works for them?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Die Cut Star for Birthday Gift Topper

So I bought a birthday card. GASP! I know, I know. You have to cut me some slack though, as we've been ripping out carpet to install wood flooring. Besides, the card was about aliens and have glow in the dark sticker eyeballs for him to play with, a great compliment to our headlamp gift.

Anyway, as I went to write our nephew our birthday wishes, ink came splooshing out of my Sharpie marker. Why? Because I read that if you have a dry marker, let it soak up rubbing alcohol and it'll be revitalized. Well it was so full of life it couldn't wait to leave it's mark.

Silhouette to the rescue! I grabbed some metallic silver vinyl and cut out the first letter of his name. I then added some more vinyl stars around the card to make it look on purpose.

Of course since my beloved cutter was already on, and I needed a bow to top off the wrapped present, I decided to make the star G much larger, in the form of a tent card.

Adding rectangles to the bottom and overlapping the top and bottom star points, it allowed me to connect all the tent card pieces together and quickly add this on top of his gift, a great foreshadowing of what's inside.

It was supposed to be a quick gift wrap session and let me get back to "home-work", but happy accidents like this make me grateful I was delayed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Business Card Holders (via digital die cutter)

For my first quilling demo, I had wanted to bring along and display business cards so attendees would know where to find more tutorials on my blog. I searched for existing DIY business card holders out there (SVG files for digital cutting machines), but they were either meant for carrying or displaying, not both.

So my brain kept at it and here's what I've come up with so far. When it's closed, it's akin to a pack of cards – contained and compact. I made the lid 1/4" shorter so it gives me something to grip when separating the two pieces.

Then I simply slide the top upwards (cue Transformers theme music), bend the top backwards, then slide it back down.

Ta-dah! It stands by itself!

It still needs a bit of work because all I did was reduce the bottom overall. However, that doesn't truly allow for proper paper tolerances, as seen by the bowing along the length and over-snug fit in the depth. I'd like to improve my understanding of proper calculations one day.

Here's another concept, but it works better in theory. I based it on Allison Patrick's Phone Book Letter Holder, found in Ann Martin's All Things Paper book. I've played with this before and keep thinking there are more applications for it.

Again, my main goal was a 2 for 1 usage – carrying and displaying. From left to right:

1) I started off making accordion folds with tabbed slits in the top folds.

2) The tabs allow me to slide in the cards very easily.

3) Large panels are on the ends, which I adhered to the "book cover" with a glue stick. I zig zagged back and forth along the spine with white glue, then adhered the remaining panel to the cover.

4-5) Opening up the book allows the "pages" to fan out, making it easy to pick up a card while giving an usual display.

6) The spine's width is 3/8" and is quite full when loaded with just 10 cards, which is why I'm not enthusiastic about this idea. Also, the front of the cards are not visible at a glance. Ah well, it was fun to test it out anyway.

Has anyone else wanted to carry and display cards at an event before? What did you use?
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