Friday, June 17, 2016

Tutorial - How to Re-stick a Cutting Mat

how to make cutting mat sticky again

I've had a collection of dying, dead, and really dead cutting mats in my drawers ever since I bought my first electric cutting machine, a Silhouette SD.  They have been waiting there all these years for a resurrection because I loathe trashing plastic and knew I'd find a method of re-applying an adhesive that I'd like some day, and that day is here.

I have tried using 2-way Zig glue, but found residue on my paper, even after it had dried for days. I tried using large sheets of double-sided adhesive (courtesy of a local signage store who was throwing it out), but I would inevitably cut through that layer and would end up having to peel it off my own cut pieces. A friend showed me a video of someone diluting Aleene's Tack It Over and Over Again with water and brushing it onto her mat.

I decided it give it a try, but without dilution nor a brush. I wanted to smear the glue, just like I always do when I'm quilling. I was so pleased to see it work so well! I was able to re-use my mats and no adhesive came away with my paper. The adhesive is smooth and grips card stock almost too well.

how to make cutting mat sticky again

On my first attempt, I didn't realize the thickness of the masking tape would end up yielding a much thicker area than the middle. It ended up gripping my card stock so strongly that I left pulp behind. With the photo above, you can see the reflection of where the build up of adhesive is, near the tape. In my video, I have deliberately scraped harder so it has much less strength. It still grips card stock very well, but now it doesn't separate the fibers – love it!

After filming, I had some dried glue on my fingers. I happened to have some rubbing alcohol on hand, and found it to be as effective as the Goo Gone I've seen others use.

If you give it a try, I'd love to hear about it. Please do leave a comment and let others learn from your experience too!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Quilling a Bird - Review and Example by J

I love hearing feedback! I love knowing how my designs worked out for other people – good or bad. Although I test and ask for feedback, it's after someone has achieved my hopes that I feel fulfilled. So I'm very grateful to have received this review below from J. 

She chose to use a translucent vellum for her window, which gives the viewer a playful tease. I like how the metallic silver is used throughout the card and box, tying in the colors with the teal and red. I'm simply purring to read that an experienced quiller agreed with me about how much easier the card stock is to work with. Who knows what'll be next?

The video for quilling a bird greeting card with a box is a great way to begin learning how to quill. Seeing each step is easier to follow than written instructions and the thicker card stock is much easier to handle than the usual narrow paper strips. The gluing tips and methods to keep the paper even helped me with my problem of messy glue spots showing and uneven edges. I like the friendly casual tone of the video “Hey, you got a good hold there.” and the pattern is fun and cheery to see after it is completed. The box was a little tricky. The tabs from the top needed a little help to insert into the bottom openings. I have done some quilling before but I still learned useful tips from this video. Seeing the steps would make it easy to make even for a beginner, I think.   ~ J

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Paper Quilling a Bird - Video Tutorial and Greeting Card Pattern

Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial and Pattern - Greeting Card

Last year, I was surprised to realize that many people are intimidated by quilling because it seemed complicated, or needed much practice to acquire the exacting results, as well as a whole shelf of new tools or materials. When one searches for examples of quilling coils, many boards and charts appear. Rather than seeing the board as a helpful dictionary, it can seem more like a confusing map with no “start here” sign.

Since then, I gave it much thought, and wanted to design a pattern to make paper quilling less daunting. I broke down the steps and used materials that were easier to handle. Essentially, I wanted to make a CIY greeting card kit that could be completed quickly and easily. Yes, that’s not a typo; CIY stands for Cut-It-Yourself, a phrase I’m coining. I love my electronic cutting machines (first a Silhouette SD and now a Cricut Explore Air), so why not have it cut all the pieces I need? Plus you won’t have a rat’s nest of supplies left over when you’re done.

Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial and Pattern - Inked Edges

Here is how my new design is so pioneering:
  • If you don’t have a quilling tool, that’s good! I used a crochet hook, but you can use a skewer stick or something similar.
  • You don't need a ruler because your cutting machine will cut the exact length needed, including the perforated fold marks – simply follow along the template provided.
  • Instead of the usual light weight paper, the bird is quilled out of card stock (Bazzil Sour Apple).
  • The strips are 1/4” in width, double what is typically used for quilling, which I hope makes the strips easier to handle. 

Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial and Pattern - Materials

All the elements I used are listed in my YouTube notes, and included in the PDF menu file that comes with the package.

Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial and Pattern - Accessories

After someone has accomplished their first quilled item, they then ask what they should do with it. If they are new to card making and paper crafting, it can seem overwhelming to now also figure out a layout. All the elements seen here are supplied, so as long as you can import SVG files, you’re set to go.

Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial and Pattern - Box

Of course, after the card is all done, the next question is how to protect the card before giving it away. I've designed a box with a peek-a-boo window, and it’s assembled without any glue! I think it’s my misspent youth folding origami that made me challenge myself this way, but somehow I get a thrill feeling the box flaps lock in place.

This project is groundbreaking not only in the way it’s made, but also in the fact that I’ve never shot my own video before. After becoming an instructor with Craftsy, I realized I simply had to put my shyness behind me and step up to bat. My nephews rolled their eyes at me when I admitted I didn’t know how to YouTube – good thing I didn’t fess up I somehow made 3 accounts by accident along the way. There was much to learn about how to film, add music, edit, even uploading. It was all new to me and I know I'll improve on my next one, but for now, I'm simply thrilled to have come this far and push myself into new territory.

I hope you’ll spend a moment to watch my first video and let me know what you think, especially if you’re new to quilling. I want to keep improving, so please comment or email me at paperzeninfo (at) My hope is that many who are tempted to try quilling will discover it's not hard as it looks. 

My new Paper Quilling a Bird Tutorial can be found in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 7 Quilling a Word

I've sometimes heard people say they're intimidated to try quilling. My gut reaction is to say "WHAT?!?". Then I want to grab a round toothpick, tear a scrap piece of paper from the weekly flyers, and show them there is no cost to trying it once, to see if they like it. Like introducing someone to new food, I'm hoping their eyebrows go up and then they're diving in for another bite - there is no better happiness for me than someone else sharing your love. Like a magician who demystifies a simple, yet seemingly incredulous trick, I want to entice them into my world and fall in love with paper in a way they didn't know was possible. To me, it's simply PLAYING!

Now I'd like to admit something. I've wanted to quill something like this BE-YOU-TIFUL type for a very long time, but had so many negative voices in my head, or what sounded like good reasons to me, but were really excuses not to attempt this project. Then I slowly came to realize I was intimidated, just like those who were hesitant to try quilling! I finally came around, had fun doing it, and sharing it along the way – the good, the bad, and the ugly gluey bits.

To help me get to this state of mind and acceptance of myself at this point in time, I have been watching Liz Gilbert on Oprah. For me, it was pivotal. Liz says about perfectionism: "It's just fear in really good shoes". So with this series, I hoped to show more of what I struggled with, what I knew, where I had my doubts, so that you can all see more than just the end of the journey, when all the glue bits are cleaned away. I realize it may appear to magically come about, but in reality, I'm working hard at it too, so don't give up when you're frustrated that it's not going as you planned.

quilling letters
At this first stage, the letters were complete, and I started on the fluid arcs. It was so exciting to imagine what it could be. I really liked the bright yellow contrasting the violet, and committed to some key strokes because I knew I wanted the eye to flow the way it's shown here. The YOU letters were asymmetrical, and I wanted to balance it with the entire word, hence the longer stroke to the right.

I wanted movement and vibrancy to come bursting out of YOU, as if it were your personality being let free, and allowed to flourish, breaking the boundaries at the tops of the letters.

At this point, I had to glue down the arcs because as I kept adding without gluing, the strips were colliding with one another and knocking each other over like dominoes. So I basically committed to this skeletal structure.

quilling letters
Then I hit a wall, at the awkward, teenage phase, when it was too late to undo some core elements. The right hand stroke that I initially loved so much was irritatingly limiting because it constrained the area and didn't allow more arcs to come out of the other half of the U.

At this point, I wanted to scrap it, and start over. The arcs within the O were too even. The bottoms of the letters were not flowing with one another, like they were on top. I realized I should have pre-planned the fluidity between the letters better. The Y-O-U felt like individual letters, not a word in itself.

Each morning I'd look at this and wonder how to make it work. I'd try strip after strip, varying the colors or the strokes, and really felt in doubt about it all. I couldn't commit to gluing another strip for days and tried endless combinations, in full doubt of what I was doing. I wanted to end this series of posts without showing the final word, because I never promised I was going to explain that part anyway – you know, just in case my fears were realized and it didn't turn out well, so my embarrassment would never be public.

quilling letters
Finally, a solution came to me. I continued some arcs along the bottom, so the play could continue. Now I feel like it's an inspiring idea coming into a person, and that person letting it loose, watching it grow into something beautiful.

It's not perfect and I can see so many areas I want to improve, but as Liz says, it's better to have something "good" finished, rather than something wanting to be "perfect" stuck in my drawer. I have learned so much in doing this project, and that is the part I will treasure as I look at this piece on my wall.

Thank you all for coming along on this ride with me. Believe me, I understand the intimidation. Gluing the letters, while technically challenging, was not intimidating to me, because it's mainly production after choosing the size and font. Gluing the airy arcs, balancing the colors, the lengths, which ones would come out of the letters, etc - that was the intimidating part because I can't very well erase and start over again. Gluing the arcs down was a commitment – after all, the word was an investment of so much time. I'm glad I struggled through it, trying idea after idea to come up with a solution that felt ok.

If you've just started reading this post, you might enjoy the other parts of this series:
Has anyone tried my free letter B quilling template? Or one of your own? I'd love to see or hear about it!

I hope you are inspired to try something new with this series of posts, and go beyond your safety zone. Let go of your fears, and be YOU!

I'm grateful to all of you who comment and give your feedback. Your helpful insights help me grow!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 6 DIY Quilling Paper Strips and More

how to cut your own quilling paper

I'm often asked about paper, so here's a post that goes into the paper I used for this typography project. I do buy standard quilling paper online, but since buying my digital die cutter (a Silhouette SD first, and now a Cricut Explore Air), I prefer to cut my own for projects with larger arcs and more open areas.

For my first sans serif type project, I decided to use a thicker paper like Canson Mi-Tientes, which is 160 gsm, cut to 1/4" wide. I wanted the thicker paper to hold up better with the open letters and long arcs I planned to be making. This project is much larger than the greeting cards I typically do.

When I do cut the strips, I leave the ends intact on one side, and end up with a comb-like shape. You can download my free DIY quilling strip patterns, for both hand and machine cutting here. I like a comb shape because it keeps all the strips orderly and tidy. They are never fighting in my storage containers.

I also like the Mi-Tientes color selection because there are many shades between them. I wish constantly for more, but I'm at the mercy of my local fine art stores and what they carry. I will lay them all out like this photo and assess if they "go" together. I knew I wanted a bold color like the #507 Violet for the letters to be seen easily, and felt the greens, yellows, and oranges were a good complement.

how to choose your quilling tools

I usually use the Kemper Tool (meant for pottery) because of the tight coils it makes. However, with the thicker Mi-Tientes paper, it requires more effort to coil. I liked the results of using a thick sewing needle, but it was tiring my hands, since it had no handle. So I ended up using a crochet hook.

how to choose your quilling tools

Here is a better close up of all three coils.

quilling tools and their varying results

Here is a better contrast between the coils made with a needle tool vs a crochet hook. Can you see the miniature kinks in the smaller coil? This is the tension I dislike when trying to force the smaller coil on the thicker paper. It's not a big deal, really, and I prefer the smaller coil look overall, but my fingers tell me what they want to do.

quilling tools and their varying results

Here is a comparison between standard quilling paper (left) and the Mi-Tientes (right), both coiled with my Kemper quilling needle tool. As you can see, the thicker paper can't be forced to be much smaller – I actually tried re-making it a couple times so that my innermost coil could be super tiny (and that's why it looks a bit different from the first few photos).

tearing vs cutting quilling paper ends

Another tip for using Mi-Tientes paper is to tear the ends. The green here joins nicely with the yellow because of the taper, where I tore the end.

tearing vs cutting quilling paper ends

Here is a close up of the tear from the side.

tearing vs cutting quilling paper ends

Here is another example of subtle joining, where the middle green strip nicely disappears.

tearing vs cutting quilling paper ends

In contrast, this is what it looks like if you don't tear.

tearing vs cutting quilling paper ends

Why didn't I tear these ends? Um, well, you know how those temperamental artist types are... I was really in the flow. I'll live.

After trying to photograph my word, I realize cutting the strips 1/4" was a tad thick. It casts deeper shadows than I prefer. Next time, I'll cut them 1/8" instead. 

I hope this helps you with your own quilling, no matter what paper or tool you choose to use. Please let me know if this impacts your own projects by leaving a comment on my blog!

If you want to try quilling the letter B, subscribe to my e-newsletter and you will receive the free PDF pattern. MailChimp will automatically send you a confirmation email and the link will be there. If you have any difficulty, please email me at paperzeninfo (at) Subscribe here! Or simply follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Quilling Letters Tutorial

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Y2K Chocolate Bug

It's the end of 2015 and I was doing some de-cluttering. I looked more closely at this progression board in a shadow box frame and realized I really needed to say good-bye.

It was made for the year 2000 New Year's Eve, when there was widespread concern that computers and other gadgets would not be able to discern 1900 when the numbers were truncated to 00s. It seems laughable now, but it was quite a topic of discussion back then. Some friends and I got together to create this Y2K chocolate bug to celebrate the new year, planning to offer it to hotels, restaurants, or other firms. It wasn't a stellar financial adventure, but I learned quite a bit about the process of making a custom chocolate product.

First I sculpted different types of bug heads out of Fimo clay.

Then different types of bodies were tested. Not all bodies are the same. Look closely at the bottom right bug, the final, and you'll see the legs and eyes are made in a way that didn't have areas that might catch in a process called vacuum forming. Any under hanging areas would prevent the model from getting released. The purple and green bits of clay were added to patch up nooks and crannies or additions to the first version.

What's vacuum forming? It's a process where a sheet of plastic is heated and draped over a model, taking its shape, so that you can make more models.

I put the final Fimo model on a hole punched board where a vacuum sucked through the holes from below, holding the model in place. A sheet of plastic is heated from above and draped over the model, with all the remaining air sucked out. After cooling, the model can be popped out of the plastic sheet. Above is a mold taken from my final, and the details are held pretty well. Can you envision if the body had areas that tucked under? The model would then be trapped.

After vacuum forming, I mixed 2-part resin and poured it into the mold to make about a dozen or so models. These were then affixed to a board to create a whole vacuum formed sheet of bugs, for chocolate filling.

And here's the final product - of course it didn't have all these white pimples 15 years ago, hence the reason for me to toss this board. I've heard it's simply oxidization of the chocolate, but sometimes it's just time to say good-bye.

Here's the packaging for the Y2K Byte the Bug – quite the process and memories! This is the best part of a blog - keep the memories without the clutter.

Another big memory for me in 2015 is of course, becoming a Craftsy instructor. I really didn't think it was possible to reach out to that star, and yet it somehow found its way to shine on me. It was such a daunting adventure, and I'm proud I managed to overcome my anxieties and self-doubts to pursue it.

I really have you to thank for commenting on my posts and giving me feedback. Reading your comments helps me feel like I'm not just whispering in the wind, alone in my room. I love hearing how my efforts here inspire others to get caught up in the fun of playing with paper and how it gets appreciated in your lives.

My wish for 2016 is for you and I to both keep pushing past safe boundaries for a Happy, Crafty New Year!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

2 Minute Christmas Tree Place Cards

Whoever coined the phrase "All is Calm" for this time of year must have been retired. With all the busy things to get done, I still wish my table could look a bit more "Martha Stewart-ish". Who has time to bake goodies, shop, wrap, cook, AND put out a hand-made place card?

So I came up with this 2 minute place card that was made from the left over card stock from another project, in the shape of a Christmas Tree.


  • 2 strips of green card stock, 11" long x .5" wide
  • silver card stock
  • star hole punch
  • white ink pad
  • white pen
  • toothpick
  • slotted quilling tool

  1. Overlap the two green strips and glue together to make a strip that is about 21.5" long.
  2. Run the white ink pad along one edge (this will be the top of the tree).
  3. Write your guest's name on one end.
  4. Insert the opposite end into your slotted quilling tool, and start coiling.
  5. Quillers know to "push" the coil off the tool, but in this case, please "pull" it off the tool and deliberately make a tornado.
  6. Punch 2 silver stars and glue them back to back, sandwiching the toothpick in between.
  7. Glue the toothpick to the innermost coil of the tree and snip off the excess.
  8. Your table is ready to set!

Hope you enjoy making this quick hand made decoration. There's plenty more to learn to make with Crafty's online classes. Share the excitement of learning something new with the ones you love. Craftsy classes up to 50% off until Dec 26, 2015!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 5 Joining Curves

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

When I quill any letter in the alphabet of a sans serif font, I start in the corner to hide my seams — all except for the letter O. What to do when there is no corner?

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

In the photo above you'll see how I've "rubbed" the letter O into shape, and left the seams on the side (it's being shown sideways). Why the side and not on the top or bottom?

The tension of the O is greater there because of the rubbing needed to make the tighter curves. I will not need to rub as much along the sides, so it'll make it easier to join and shape.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

After "kissing" my glue with the end, a gentle nudge from above makes the two ends meet. I've taped down my plastic piece to keep it from moving.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

I like using my reverse tweezers here rather than my fine tip tweezers because of the flat nose. See how they grip the two ends and ensure they are aligned? My tweezers go where my fingers can't. Since they are reverse tweezers, I set it upside down on my table and allow it to dry hanging in the air while I tackle something else.

The reverse tweezers come in a Making Memories Tool Kit I bought years ago, and had thought I'd use more of the items in it. I sometimes use the hammer and hole punchers, but basically I've never stored my tweezers back in the kit because I'm always using it.  I do enjoy the metal awl, but broke that a few weeks back (quilling is vigorous work!). That's why I ended up using the needle from the kit, and did enjoy the results on the Mi-Tientes paper, but my hand got tired more quickly – obviously I need to visit Michaels again.

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

OK, here's the beauty shot of the join.

Ah, but I'll fess up here — I used Photoshop to clean it up for a pretty picture! What's that? You want to see the "before" shot?

quilling letter word monogram tutorial pattern

OK, here it is without any touch ups. I glued my first, clean letter O down before I got some good photos. So these photos are of a second letter O, and my tools were not cleaned of glue - so don't forget to wipe them clean!

Remember, try not to feel discouraged when you're trying something new and it didn't turn out the way you imagined. Just the act of DOING is the learning that you are putting into your skill set, but you don't see that as readily. If you feel intimidated to start quilling, look at this photo and know that I'm always learning my lessons too!

The paper shown here is Canson Mi-Tientes, #507 Violet, 160 gsm, 1/4" wide.

If these tutorials are helping with your quilling, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Can anyone guess the word I'm quilling?

 Craftsy Sale

If you've been tempted to try one of Craftsy's classes, this is a good week to add this to your stocking stuffer wish list. ALL their classes are on sale for up to 50% off from Monday (12/21/2015) to Saturday (12/26/2015).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My beloved glue bottle

My glue bottle died! {sniff, sniff} It was during the photographing of this Quilling 101 series that I accidentally tipped it over, and "snap"! Off with it's head!

Actually, this is the 2nd time it's had a life threatening situation. I accidentally bumped it off the table onto the cement floor, during my Craftsy class filming, and it broke just above the shoulder area. They were SUCH professionals! One person drove to Michael's and another used Crazy glue to re-attach it. Both returned in half an hour, with such earnest expressions on their faces, hoping their solutions would be acceptable – they were so sweet and understood what it meant to me!!! I do have a Quilled Creations Precision Tip Glue Applicator Bottle, 0.5-Ounce bottle as a back up, but to have my beloved bottle die a final death was heart wrenching.

It was bound to happen. I bought it at Michaels in the t-shirt paints aisles (haven't seen it since), and used this bottle for about 10 years. There were 3 nozzles (I found the 3rd one way after this photo was taken), 4 varying wires to unblock the nozzles, and a couple of squeeze bottles - I tossed the packaging long ago, so can't remember all the details now.

And then life went on. I managed to jam the opposite end of my x-acto blade in the residual nozzle plastic and scrape it all out slowly, so I could re-screw onto a new bottle. I felt most comfortable with the nozzle in the middle (not too small, not too large). It turns out the shoulders of the left bottle fit on top of the bottle sold by Quilled Creations, and voila! I have a new best friend.

Why did I choose this path? I kind of like the small size of the Quilled Creations bottle for transportation reasons, and the glue has to travel less to reach the nozzle. I didn't prefer the larger nozzle it came with, and although the cap is a nice idea, I find it in my way when applying glue.

In my first photo, I show a push pin in the nozzle. For some reason, it seems to keep the glue from drying out, and all other items I've shoved in there to prevent clogging seems to rust.

What fine tip glue bottles do you prefer? I was SO grateful to Inna for commenting about Aleene's glue in 2012 and I found out where to buy a replacement for my Kemper quilling tool when it broke, so I'm all ears!

* * * UPDATE * * *

Thanks to MizDenise and her sleuthing husband, she found the same nozzles I stumbled on a decade ago. It's called Small Bottles Tips by Loew Cornell. Thanks so much for sharing that with us MizDenise. I know so many will enjoy the same glue precision I have been having.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

The next letter I'm quilling is the capital letter E. Although I try to form my letter as accurately to the final setting as possible, there's no way I can simply glue the letter E without it being misshapen. Fighting the letter is like herding cats, so rather than do that, I'm going to glue it in stages.

First I lay down a bead of glue about the length of the long vertical piece of the letter E.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

After dipping in the glue, I will turn it over and check for missing spots – like the area near the right. So I will re-dip in glue until the entire length is coated (the glue shown on this letter is a bit heavy, but I left it like this so it shows up better in the photos for you).

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

I glued the left side down first because it seemed to give the most leeway in dealing with the rest of the letter.

Don't pick it up like I'm showing here! I'm exaggerating it so you can see how much flexibility there is in dealing with the unglued parts.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Next, place glue on a scrap strip and slide it under the letter portion you'd like to glue. Using tweezers to pick up the unglued letter portions here is very handy. Dab the letter onto the glue and set the letter in place. Repeat this, gluing section, by section. You are in control every step of the way and have time to loosen your shoulders too!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

When I reached the end and had to glue the corner, I pushed the left strip aside using my tweezers.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Dab glue along the end and bring the two corners together.

Note: apply less glue than I've shown here so you're not transferring a soggy blob. When I'm taking photos in my light tent, my back is tired from hunching over shot after shot, so I have less patience with my techniques than I show here.

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

Finally I slide a straight edge against the corner to ensure the seams are lined up.

The paper shown here is Canson Mi-Tientes, #507 Violet, 160 gsm, 1/4" wide.

Would you like to have the measurements to quill your own letter B? My newsletter subscribers will receive the free PDF pattern. To receive the download link, simply subscribe and confirm. A thank you email will be sent to you automatically after confirmation, where you'll find the download link (if you have any difficulty, please email me at paperzeninfo (at) Subscribe here!

Quilling Letters 101 - Part 4 Gluing Letters in Stages

I hope these tips help you quill your own letters. Please let me know how your progress is going in the comment section!