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?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY Electric Quilling Tool

Before anyone goes out to buy this, I'd like to say that I won't be using this to quill! It spins so fast, I can't keep the strip edge even. However, I'll explain my "just because" experiment.

When Ann Martin of All Things Paper reviewed the Quill Ease Slotted Motorized Quilling Tool, I was reminded that I've always wanted to see if an electric eraser would be a good "Macgyverism". Off to Daiso (Japanese dollar store) I went, and picked up this electric eraser for $2. I went to the one in Richmond, but there are many US locations as well.

It's easy to take apart by twisting the upper ring and separating the halves. I had hoped my mini Japanese quilling tool (far right) would fit, but upon closer comparison, the diameter is too big to replace the eraser. Plus I don't think I could bear to damage my beloved tool.

Not to be deterred, I trimmed down a toothpick, gave it a slit, and shoved the pointy end into the eraser.

Here's what my coil looks like. It's ok, but really it spun too quickly for me to control well. If anyone knows if it's easy to turn down the spinning speed, maybe they could share this tip? All in all, a fun experiment for 2 bucks!

Quilling by 7th Graders

My brother-in-law is a teacher and was subbing for a class of 7th graders. He decided to engage them in a way they'd never been before, by showing them how to quill. I gave him a quick one hour lesson of the basics the night before, using toothpicks and .5" strips of white photocopy paper we cut by hand on a guillotine cutter.

After showing some examples, they started quilling. Both boys and girls got into it, but the girls took it to another level with focused and larger pieces, varying from the examples they were shown. I was astonished at what they achieved in just one hour! They grasped the basic shapes immediately and started creating their own unique pieces without any patterns.

Some girls decided to stay and finish their quilling during recess. I just love the bird (top right) and wonder if she felt it was finished? As an adult, I think I over-process new things to my own detriment. I loved hearing how the kids dove right in unimpeded. I've got lots to learn!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quilled Champagne Congratulations, A New Tutorial Pattern!

My friends got engaged and I wanted to quill them something to commemorate the happy occasion. Champagne glasses immediately came to mind and then I wondered what to put around the clinking glasses — confetti and streamers of course!

I think of pink for a rosy congratulations, whether for a graduation or even an invite to "eat, drink, and be merry". The example shown here has the pink dots ready-to-print along with the frame.

For a classic golden hue, great for an anniversary or to give to your spouse, you can choose to hole punch your own paper out of 1/8" (shown here) or 1/16" hole punch.

As you can see, there are two frame options available, and both come with and without pink bubbles, so you can choose whatever you like. Both have a ribbon along to bottom so you can type whatever message you like. After scoring and trimming, your finished card will be 4.5x6.25 inches when folded.

Of course, it's not complete until you've assembled a customized envelope in matching font as well.

As with all my quilling tutorial patterns, you won't need a ruler to measure the strips needed. Simply lay your strip on top and score/fold along the indicated lines. Then follow the illustrations and photos to see how they are easily assembled.

If you'd prefer a different size of card or don't want the frames, it's easy to make a few more pieces of confetti to throw around it. I like gluing my confetti at different angles so it really looks like it's fluttering around.

This latest quilling pattern is available in my Etsy shop (10% coupon code is in the caption below). I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of paper scraps on the floor.

I can finally buy my quilling supplies locally, at Precious Memories! They sold out of my book at my first ever quilling demo the other night. My nervousness was completed dispelled by the enthusiastic attendees.

I'd like to celebrate (pun intended) my achievement with a 10% coupon for my Etsy shop. Just enter CONGRATS10 (expires July 31) during your checkout.

Craft Ideas is hosting a giveaway of my book! 3 lucky winners will receive a copy if they enter before 9/30/2014.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cut-Coil Quilling for Rounded Flowers

I was buoyed by my quick and happy results from the cut coil technique for pointed petal flowers I showed in an earlier post, and assumed a rounded petal version would be just as easy. I started off well enough, with this flower as my first attempt.

It was a rocky road after that. I found it difficult to achieve results consistent enough to explain my process.

From top left to right, the strips measurements I used were:

1) 3 x 3" strips, not loosened
2) 4 x 3" strips, quilled with a skewer
3) 1 x 1.5, 2, 2.5" strips
4) 4 x 4" strips, uncoiled and re-coiled by hand for a looser coil = too many large rings
5) 3 x 3" strips, flattened curves by hand after cutting
6) 4 x 3" strips
7) 4 x 3" strips, not loosened at all
8) 4 x 3" strips, curves massaged after cutting
9) 4 x 3" strips, curves massaged after cutting

I enjoy these flowers overall, but want to make them more consistently, so they look like a bouquet and belong together, because I'd like to show how to make another monogram using the cut-coil technique in the future.

In example 4, uncoiling and re-coiling by hand is what I do to relax the tension of a coil. After coiling a strip, the tension is quite tight (as seen in the 2nd photo below). I use my tool to uncoil it, stopping just before the innermost coil. Then I re-coil it by hand, controlling the tension as I go to make a looser coil. This is different from simply coiling it loosely the first time, because now the paper has a memory of how it's been shaped. I'm simply doing it looser, and it ends up being concentric, like a conch shell. I show photos in my book, Pretty Quilled Cards, and I'll show it here in this blog when I get a chance to shoot again (I dropped my light bulb and it's shattered now).

I usually coil at the very tip of my tool, but since I wanted to cut the coils, I wrapped the paper further down the tool to have a larger inner circle.

I even used a skewer stick to achieve larger circles. I would save the tightly wrapped coil for the innermost part of my flower as a starting point of the flower.

I think the main difficulty lay in the fact that after the coils were cut, the arcs were so different and needed massaging into a usable curve. The pinched petals in my previous post were already mainly shaped. So this type of flower took more time for me and it was harder to maintain consistency.
Anyway, I hope you have better results than I did! If you do give it a go, I'd love to hear about it. 

Phillippa Reid of Quilliance had already made the leap to this flower and has made a wonderful cut-coil round petal flower, encircled with a mix of techniques and colors. She has also experimented with cut-coil methods previously and has other links in her post worthy of a visit!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quilling an Easy Letter Monogram

One question I'm commonly asked is how to make a quilled monogram. When someone is new to quilling, it is daunting to make such a large customized project, especially when they want it to be done in an afternoon.

Rather than tackling how to outline a letter (an advanced technique I plan to discuss later), I want to show a quick and easy way to make a monogram for room d├ęcor. This letter M has been covered by 3 types of quilled dots/circles. You can certainly minimize the design with a single type, but I wanted to show various ways of making circles out of quilling strips.

Before cutting my materials, I gather them to ensure they go well together. Here's what I used:
  • Green patterned paper from DCWV Doodlin' Around Stack
  • Metallic bronze card stock from Stardream
  • Orange paper from Daiso (a local dollar store with Japanese items)
  • Light blue quilling strips
  • Ikea 9x9 picture frame

Choose any font you wish, type your letter at about 4.25" high, and print it out. The font shown here is TeX Gyre Bonum, Bold, with a size of 450 pt. Staple it on top of your card stock to prevent the papers from shifting as you cut.

Tight Coil
To make these solid dots, I used 3.5" long strips and started my needle tool partway down from the top edge. Rubbing my fingers as if I'm removing dried glue, I roll the paper up and around the tool. If the paper doesn't catch around your needle, moisten your fingertip. After applying glue to seal the end, push the coil off your tool. At this stage, I can see my edges are not perfectly aligned, so I place the coil on my work surface and use a flat item to squish the coils completely flush. You will see a solid coil on top, while the bottom has a tiny hole.

Loose Coil
To make the Loose Coils, I curled a 3.5" strip around my tool and released it within an 8 mm (about .25") diameter circle template. I place adhesive foam beneath my circle template to raise the template about midway up the paper strip, keeping it more easily fenced in.

When I swipe up a dab of glue with my needle tool, it's usually facing one direction. See how there is a clean area on the opposite side? Look at the previous photo again. You'll see I use this clean section to push my coils out of the way before dabbing my glue on the end. I usually have tissues nearby to clean off my tool each time. Toothpicks could certainly be used instead of gunking up your tool, but I prefer not interrupting my flow by picking and putting down my tools.

To make the large circles, I found using the circle template harder than wrapping around a solid object, in this case, a Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive bottle. The circle on the left is just a tad out of shape. Perhaps a lipstick tube would work too – anything with a plastic surface allows me to slip the finished ring off more easily.

To start, I scraped a 5" length strip. The top left in the photo above shows what a scraped coil looks like. I ended up with a circumference of about 16mm or .5". The size does not have to be exact, just whatever you have around that makes a larger circle.

Wrap the coil around your object to eyeball a general length.

You don't want glue on the innermost ring - just the length after that. I used a UHU glue stick to smear the adhesive rather than liquid glue.

Wrap the strip around your object, trying to keep the edges aligned.

While the glue is still moist, slip the ring off and use either your fingers or a flat object to gently press the rings flush. Actually, I rarely use my fingers, but each time I took a photo with a flat item, it covered up the quilling, so bear with me! Flush edges always makes your work look neater.

Then I slip the ring back on the glue bottle to allow the glue to fully dry, so I can achieve a perfectly round ring. 

I drew, then cut a giraffe and had intended to use matching bronze coils on top, but found them too distracting from the monogram. Instead I used 1/8" and 1/4" hole punches to punch matching bronze dots. I have used my punches for years and noticed the edges are not as clean as I'd like. To solve this, I put my paper in between two sheets of scrap card stock. Being sandwiched makes my bronze paper cut so much more cleanly.

After gluing the dots on my giraffe, I flipped it over and placed adhesive foam squares on the back. I enjoy the subtle shadows cast when an item is lifted off the page.

Make as many dots and circles as you need, and place them on your letter. To keep things random, I cut one of the large rings apart and glued the two sections in different parts of the letter.


Before gluing everything down, I suggest getting up from your chair and taking a break. Give it a day if you can. When you come back, you may see a different way of laying out the elements. I find myself subconsciously placing elements in the middle, so I keep playing with it until it looks random enough.

I plan to make this tutorial into a free downloadable PDF so it's easy to print and have by your craft table. The strips will all be pre-measured for you, as all my quilling patterns are. The giraffe will also be included in two ways - both as a pattern to cut out on your chosen paper and as a colored printable to save time. The eyes and antlers can get a bit tricky to cut, but you can replace it with any animal you prefer.

When the PDF tutorial is ready, I'll come back here and update this post. If you'd like to be notified immediately (or if you'd like to receive news this way), simply join my newsletter.

* * *

I've now completed the PDF file with measurements, instructions, photos, and giraffe template. I hope you'll leave a comment on my blog if it helped you make a customized project for your loved one!

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