Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape. The paper is glued at the tip and the coil shaped, these shaped coils are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork.
During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. The paper most commonly used was strips of paper trimmed from the gilded edges of books. These gilded paper strips were then rolled to create the quilled shapes. Quilling often imitated the original ironwork of the day.
In the 18th century, quilling became popular in Europe where gentle ladies of quality (“ladies of leisure”) practiced the art. It was one of the few things ladies could do that was thought not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions. Quilling also spread to the Americas and there are a few examples from Colonial times.
Many quilled art works can be found on cabinets and stands, cribbage boards, ladies’ purses, a wide range of both pictures and frames, work baskets, tea caddies, coats of arms and wine coasters. Storage boxes, larger than most jewelry boxes with drawers and/or tops that opened, quilled lock boxes, and much more. Some items were specially designed for quilling with recessed surfaces. Quilling was also combined or married with other techniques such as embroidery and painting.
The craft has gone through many transformations and changes through the ages using new techniques, styles and materials. Dimensional quilling creates 3D items.
Today, quilling is seeing a resurgence in popularity with quillers (people who practice the art of quilling) on every continent and in every walk of life. No longer confined to the “upper classes”, this is a peoples art form and the beauty of the art is always expanding. The craft has become increasingly popular due to the low cost of the material. It is used to decorate wedding invitations, birth announcements, greeting cards, scrapbook pages, and boxes. Quilling can be found in art galleries in Europe and in the United States and is an art that is practiced around the world.