Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ladybug Party Favor Gift Box

I'm so excited to show you my latest party favor box design, an adorable ladybug!

The body is cut from a single sheet of black cardstock and after gluing, forms a dome. The wings are cut from a sheet of red cardstock and are so easy to put together. The iconic black dots are made with brads, which also serve to sculpt the wings.

After the wings are glued to the body, it automatically lifts a bit in the back, appearing as if ready to take flight!

Goodies can be stashed inside, accessed from the bottom. As you can see, there are two panels here to provide strength and rigidity. The size is 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches (octogonal) and fits comfortably in my hand. The digital download is available now in my Etsy shop.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A blog hop with a difference!

I was flattered to be asked by Pritesh to be part of her blog hop, originally started by Hussena

I love Pritesh's infectious enthusiasm for paper crafts and the ideas that flare up between us all. She shares many tutorials on her blog and I can tell we're cut from the same Type A cloth. Her work is precise, and varies widely from a tiny ornately detailed piece of jewelry to a staggering 5.5x3 foot panel – all from quilling paper. She'll analyze a paper challenge using her chemistry background, then present her lab results and findings so we all learn and grow alongside her.

And now, on to the Q&A of this blog hop:

1. What am I working on? 

My love of paper is focused on two genres, quilling and die cutting, and am most intrigued when both those worlds collide.

In quilling, I am working on a series tutorials for letter/alphabet/monogram projects and plan to progress from easy to advanced projects. Stay tuned for more!

In die cutting, I'm currently debating between more (left) or less (right) details within a dragonfly's wings.

I am also trying to mimic quilling by cutting my wings in that style, but it doesn't always work well because the details are so intricate – but when there's a will, there's a way and I'm sure I'll figure it out if I keep trying.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My quilling tends to be very airy and open. I initially went down this path to be frugal with my supplies because it was difficult to buy locally. I started to enjoy this minimalist look and found it to be more expressive with less strips.

Although I enjoyed origami as a child, I preferred making things that were not only decorative but also served a purpose. With my die cutting, I strive to make designs that fold well with minimum effort, with the least glue or cutting needed. My Halloween coffins are my highest achievement of this because the coffins fold together with great strength, without the aid of glue. My desk looked like a cemetery with months of partial attempts.

In some ways I find myself avoiding using more strips or glue because I shy away from more work - in essence being lazy. My co-worker said "The laziest people in the world are the most efficient people in the world because they find ways to get the same work done with less effort." So I'm not lazy, I'm just efficient!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

It's an itch. I have to scratch at that idea, drawing it out on paper and then watch it come to life before my eyes. I sit there stunned it looks just like imagined – or I sit there and wonder where it went so wrong? If I don't scratch the itch, it'll persist and give me no relief until I try it out. It also gives my fingers and mind freedom to play. It's all a type of playing, free as a child who forgets to eat or put on a jacket. I never want to lose that wonder of discovery and trying.

This invite is a combo of die cutting and quilling. I deliberately did not glue down quilling strips fully, allowing their playfulness in the mid-air express themselves in the shadows.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

When I saw a beautiful poppy photo, I was immediately drawn to its lines, tonal values, and expression just by being there as itself. I wondered if I could recreate that beauty with just paper and have it express the same beauty but in a different way. After sketching out the image, I imagined how to make it out of the paper I have and start to amass the colors and materials, placing them side by side to assess how well they go together.

After cutting the necessary elements, I experimented with the shaping and coiling of each element before gluing permanently. There are times mid-way through the process I feel like I'm working on a gangly, pimply teenager who is at an awkward phase but shows promise. I push through that doubt because it's simply faster to finish it rather than deal with how I'll feel if I don't find out how it ends, even if I'm not pleased with the final result.

I would say 75% of the time, my final result comes out as I imagined, and I feel the planets lined up and the world is turning as it should. It's a feeling of complete satisfaction, even if it's something as small as figuring out paper pollen can be made from a cheese grater. When it turns out the other 25%, my poor hubby has to console me and remind me I'm only human and to give it another try.

This is the part of the blog hop where I'm supposed to list two other quilling bloggers that readers could hop along to. I asked several of my peer group, but my timing seems to be quite off because they all happen to be fulfilling commitments already and had to respectfully decline. So rather than list quillers you likely know, I'm going to list some blogs/podcasts I follow for reasons other than quilling. Although these topics don't relate to quilling specifically, I have found listening to podcasts while commuting or working to be a source of camaraderie and growth.

I currently work full time as a graphic designer and wonder if a career working with paper is possible. It seems dreams can become reality following the wonderful tips and insights of Abby Glassenberg, While She Naps. Abby sews toys and is quite a pioneering voice when it comes to issues like copyrights or other challenges crafters are facing. I value her opinion greatly and am learning how to improve myself in so many ways.

Another podcast I enjoy is by Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women. She delves into the stories of many creative women who follow their passion and share what they've learned along the way.

Thank you for reading about my work and process. I love reading all your comments and gain much inspiration to keep realizing my hopes. I hope you'll enjoy the two innovators above as much as I do!


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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        U P D A T E
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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?
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