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The hows and whys of Quilling

Updated: Oct 6

Guest Blogger: Hat Jefferys


The art of quilling has been around for so long no one can actually remember exactly when it all started! China would claim it’s a tradition of theirs whilst ancient Egypt begs to differ!

In the early days - around 300-400 AD - people (I say people – I mean women) used the quilling techniques to roll silver and gold threads around pillars, furniture and vases - beautifully combining the pinched metals with precious gemstones. Paper then replaced the metals in 1200s due to it being cheaper and easier to source. It was became so prominent even French and Italian nuns were at it – which no doubt increased its popularity even further!



Just so we all know what I’m talking about - the verb to quill is to fold lace, muslin or other light material into narrow flutes or pleat and when so pleated the material is then called quilling. An actual quill (a feather from a birds wing or tail) was used to wind the material.

Fast forward to now and below are a number of reasons why quilling has become increasingly popular over recent years (reasons not including the three lockdowns!)


  • It is an art form that is favoured by children and adults due to the varying range of skills required to produce beautiful work.

  • Great for improving your fine motor skills, dexterity and concentration - and who doesn’t need more of that?

  • As your technique improves you can incorporate more complex designs into your work and let your imagination run riot!

  • Compared to a lot of hobbies the initial layout for materials is very affordable

While we’re on the subject - and I don’t know if this is of any interest to anyone but the largest quilling paper mosaic measures 30.51 m² and was achieved by United Arab Emirates University, in Al Ain on 9 September 2018. 532 students of the university created the mosaic over a period of 6 months, using 276,800 strips of quilling paper! Mmmm…. a bit of colour might have been nice!



I was lucky enough to have a cyber chat with the hugely talented Karen from Just Create who supplies Good Craic Rostrevor and Silent Valley with her stunning quilled art pieces and I asked her about her interest in art.

K: I have always been very interested in art in school which led me to study a BA(Hons) degree in photography in Ulster University. A few years after this ended, my sister who has Down’s Syndrome, left school and there was the question of who was going to look after her during the day until she got a place at the local disability centre. My mum couldn’t give up her job to do so, so I quit my part time job to look after her during the day. I loved art and wanted to create so I would try and make things at home with her or myself in the evenings. I came across quilling online at about 2am one night and it was love at first sight. I had never seen anything like it before and I couldn’t wait to try it and I haven’t stopped since.

Whenever my sister go a permanent place at our local centre for adults with disabilities during the day I thought I would have a go at selling some of my paper art as it was so unusual. And the business, Just Create by Karen, was born.

I love running my own business as it lets me enjoy my passion for art and paper quilling, while still allowing me to be available for my sister



GC: Do you know how far afield your work has travelled?

K: One of my pieces has travelled as far as Dubai! It was a name frame for a new born baby girl.

GC: Do you sell at markets or fairs?

K: Normally I do sell at fairs and things, but due to sister being on the critically extremely vulnerable list due to COVID, I’m not going to be doing any for the foreseeable future. But hopefully I will again some day.

GC: What are your best sellers?

K: Best sellers would be my rain cloud frame! Love the rainbow colours of the raindrops. My cat and dog frames are very popular as well. I have made one paper quilled clock and one rock art piece. I’d like to try something other than frames. Homeware like the clocks and vases perhaps.


GC: When do you start preparing your seasonal work?

K: Seasonal items always start in September at the latest! I’m currently making them now. I usually have ideas or plan in August time then begin creating in September.

GC: Finally, do you have any future artistic plans?

K: I’d like to try a large canvas piece. I’m thinking maybe underwater scene with corals and fish and things. A really detailed large piece. Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the colours. They inspire me so much.

Click on this link to meet Karen and have a peep around her workshop!










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