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Quill-Ability – THe Art of Successful Quilling in Spite of Disability (Chapter 5)

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Quill-Ability – THe Art of Successful Quilling in Spite of Disability (Chapter 5)

Congratulations! You’ve studied the history of quilling, learned about the types of paper, the tools and supplies you’ll use. You’ve worked hard to learn to create good coils that have the same uniform look so that your quilled design will have a professional look to it. Your coils are now uniform in both shape and tension. When you manipulate the coils into the shapes needed for your design, they too are uniform.

You’ve finished your Quilling Chart with all the shapes and varied sizes (See Figure 4, Chapter 3 – BASIC QUILLING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES).

You understand the basic concepts of quilling, know the names of the different shapes, can create those shapes and can “feel” the correct tension needed to create good quilling coils which are the basis of any professional looking quilling design. You’ll find that because you worked hard and learned the fundamentals and practiced until you were proficient, your quilling will be more professional and pleasing to the eye then someone who has not spent the time to learn good basics. Their work will always look amateurish and will never achieve the true beauty of a quilled design. You have the firm foundation with which to quill successfully.

Erogonomics and Quilling

I’d like to talk here briefly about ergonomics and quilling. Not taking care of your body when you quill can create some horrible consequences including not being able to ever quill again. As you create coils, take frequent breaks. Allow your hands to rest in a neutral position and after a few minutes stretch your hands. Close the hand and then open your fingers outstretched. Point them upward with your palm side down. Do this several times. One of the things that happens when you quill is you will often forget the time. That’s when your body will forcibly remind you of your neglect. As soon as your hands start feeling tired, tingly, crampy, or in some other way feel uncomfortable your body is telling you to take a break. Put down your quilling. Get up, walk around. Put your hands in front of you and let them drop, then shake them. Open and close them several times, allowing your hands to stretch. ALWAYS listen to your body. Too many people in our country court permanent painful disability because they refuse to listen to what their body is telling them. Many times I hear “I’m on a deadline to finish this job. I don’t have time to take a break. It’s been my experience that I am more productive when I take frequent breaks and I produce more then if I force my body to work nonstop.

I frequently stop quilling to not only stretch but to also do my yoga exercises. This is especially helpful if you’ve reached a place in the creative process where you’re stumped. Taking a 15 minute yoga break will often free your creative processes. It will also relax your hands, arms, neck, and back thus preventing damage. I often feel as though I’ve taken a 2 hour “Power Nap” and find that I can suddenly see what needs to be done!

At the back of the book is a list of exercises you can do to prevent damage to your hands, arms, back, shoulders, neck and even your entire body. Remember to quill smart.

I know you are eager to create your first picture. But before you do please read through these directions. After you have read them you will be ready to create the pattern we’ve chosen. It uses many of the shapes you’ve learned to create and will help you better understand the quilling process. Feel free to deviate from the color choices we’ve made. We would prefer however that for this 1st project you not deviate from the shapes and sizes we’ve chosen. The following directions are basic and assume you are choosing the pattern.

  • Choose your pattern and gather your tools together. This job is made much easier if you keep your quilling tools and supplies organized.
    • I keep my tools in a tackle box. There is also room for extra coils and shapes to be stored. When I create coils and shapes I usually make a few extra of each one just in case I make a mistake or mess up one of my shaped coils.
    • Make sure your tools are clean and in good shape. There is nothing worse then creating a coiled shape only to find you are unable to use it because it got dirty. This is especially important if you want to use light colors.
    • Find a good work area. Some people can quill anywhere but that is a skill you probably don’t have yet. The room should be quiet and relaxing. You should have a comfortable chair to sit in that supports both your back and your arms. A kitchen table or office desk that has been cleared of clutter, is clean and that has been covered with plastic to protect it, can be used as your quilling area. Good lighting is essential to prevent eye strain and mistakes in matching colors. HINT: A lamp that mimics the light the sun produces is a good investment. It will allow you to see the true colors of your quilling paper strips.
    • Read the directions carefully before you start quilling. Make sure you understand what the directions are telling you to do and you have all the needed supplies. There is nothing worse then to be halfway through a project and find that you used a wrong technique, or you’ve run out of a needed size or color. HINT: If unfamiliar with a technique or shape and you can’t find the answer in the book you’ve taken the pattern from (most pattern books have a section describing the shapes used in the patterns), from this book or from other local quillers, go online to a quilling group and ask someone there to help you. Many times the names of shapes may be different from the name you know it as. For more information look in Chapter 3 – BASIC QUILLING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES.
    • Choose your color strip packages and lay them out in the order they are listed in the directions. Don’t take them out of the package yet. HINT: If ordering paper for a large quilling project in which you will need several packages of paper, let the vender know this. They can often special order packages of paper from the same manufacturing run. Paper can vary slightly in color from run to run. This is unimportant if the paper is used over several quilling projects. It does however, become very important if you’re creating a design in which the papers will show variations in color and ruin the uniform look of your finished design.
    • Examine the pattern closely. Do you like the way the colors used in the pattern look together. Do you think another color might look better? If you’re not sure there is a technique that can help you decide. Take the quilling strips (in the colors chosen by the pattern creator) and lay them on the background paper you’re going to be using. Criss-cross the papers as shown in Figure 57b. Are the colors pleasing to your eye? If not, try other colors of your own choosing, lying them out using this same technique. Continue to change the papers until the color combination pleases you. Another trick is to use an artists color wheel. This inexpensive and easy to use tool can help you choose colors that work well together. It is especially helpful if you don’t trust your own color skill.
    • Make note of the lengths of each paper color needed. Do you have all the colors needed in the correct amounts? Make sure the chosen colors are all correct and the strips for each color are the same. Problems can be avoided if each time you use your papers, you take out the amounts needed and return the excess back to the original package (which should be labeled with the manufacturer, the code number, the width and the name of the color). When I first started quilling I used to shove my papers in a box, mixing them together without regard to paper type, color or even width. Many got damaged and the colors were all mixed together. I once started a ivory project only to find when finished and looked at under the noon day sun, part of the page had been done in Ivory but part had been done in a soft yellow. The design was ruined and had to be done over. I was very lucky that because I did not use a lot of glue, the soft yellow parts were carefully pulled off without damage to the background and I was able to redo those parts in the original Ivory color. The item was delivered late to my client. I was very lucky she gave me another quilling job that I was able to complete early. Remember a mistake like this can ruin your reputation. As stated before a “sun lamp” can be a very useful tool in helping you make sure that your colors are correct. In a room lit by regular light bulbs it is very difficult to tell the difference between White and Bright White or Ivory and Soft/Light Yellow. If you don’t have a “sun lamp”, you can also take your paper outside in the sunlight. Having mismatched papers are only a problem if you didn’t store your papers correctly as discussed in Chapter 4 – Basic Quilling.
    • After you’ve chosen your colors you’ll want to update your pattern so you don’t make any mistakes. I never mark in my books. I take a sheet of paper and create a ledger. For instance, if I’m replacing the Deep Rose color with Red, I will copy the directions replacing the word Rose with the word Red every place it appears: Original Pattern: Make the petals for each flower by rolling and gluing together 6 Deep Rose 5 inch Marquises as shown in the pattern. This is changed to: Make the petals for each flower by rolling and gluing together 6 Red 5 inch Marquises as shown in the pattern. Do this for every color change you’re going to make. I have a friend that uses post-it notes to do this.
    • Now you’re going to create all the proper lengths needed for each color. Using a ruler, tear your paper to the proper lengths. Do them one at a time, remembering to place the torn strips into a container marked with both color and length (this step can be skipped if you’re creating a simple design with colors that are easily distinguished from one another). HINT: As discussed in Chapter 3 – BASIC QUILLING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES, tearing paper is better then cutting it with scissors because the torn edges will not only blend better (thus creating the illusion of no seam) it will also create a more secure piece using less glue. If you are not going to complete the design that day, you can use baggies to keep the strips from getting mixed up. I usually use a baggie for each color and size (ie: if you’re using red in 3 lengths you’ll need 3 baggies labeled red and then the size). I find that by doing it this way I can start creating my coils all at once (something you can do while watching TV, riding in a car or waiting for your appointment at the doctors!). Because they’re labeled it’s easy to transport them, easy to use them, they stay clean and none get lost. The main advantage to this method is that after all your coils are made into shapes, you can start putting your picture together all at once.
    • Create all your coils and shape them. Make sure you place them back into the properly labeled baggie/container. Now you’re ready to put the shapes together to form your picture.
    • Place the pattern you’ve chosen on your design board. When using a design from a book I usually trace the pattern and use the traced copy on my design board. This allows me to keep my book in good condition and will allow me to reuse the pattern many times. Measure a piece of wax paper that is long enough to cover your pattern and so the edges will meet when wrapped around the board. Place the sheet of wax paper on top of the pattern wrapping it around the edges and meeting on the bottom of the board. At this time I usually place tape to join the 2 edges securely (See Figure 58, 59 and 60) I then use T-pins to secure the pattern so it does not shift as shown (Refer to Chapter 3 – BASIC QUILLING TERMS AND TECHNIQUES for more information). The wax paper will protect your pattern from glue, so it can be reused many times. For more information on design boards refer back to Chapter 2 – USEFUL QUILLING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES. HINT: It is not necessary to buy a design board. One can be created using cardboard or Styrofoam again refer back to Chapter 2 – USEFUL QUILLING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES for the creation of these handmade boards). HINT: Eventually patterns show signs of age because of the pinholes that will result as shapes are pinned into place over the pattern. Many times if you buy a vintage book or kit the pattern may be in poor shape. In either case the old pattern can be revived by taking contact paper or a full sheet label and applying it to the back of the tattered pattern. This will create a stable backing for the pattern and allow you to use it many more times. (Please do not violate copyright rules and make copies of patterns (even if they do not say copyright protected or have the © symbol to give away). You are allowed to make a copy for your own use only.
    • Now you can start putting your picture together. I usually “dry fit” my shapes (placing the shapes together without gluing them). This way if they aren’t quite right or I want to change a color or shape I can. Remember if you change your mind about a shape or color simply create a new baggie/container with the new color and size on it. Update your ledger too (this will help if you decide to create the same pattern with the same color palette.) Make sure you put the old baggie/container into a box or storage area that holds your bags of replaced colors/shapes so you don’t use it by mistake. Saving finished coils and shapes is not only cost effective but also comes in handy because chances are you’re going to use that color or shape in another project!
    • When the “dry fitted” pattern creates the picture I want, I am ready to glue the parts together. HINT: When using glue it is better to use too little then too much. A very small drop placed on the meeting edges will secure your shapes for years.
    • Here are several suggestions before you start gluing. Gather your supplies. You’ll need:
      • GLUE
        • As discussed in Chapter 2 – USEFUL QUILLING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES there are many types of glue. We’ve found that the best glue (and it’s inexpensive too) is Elmer’s Glue All. It is a white glue that dries clear. It’s important that you try other glues and decide which glue works best for you. The list in Chapter 2 will help guide you in your choice.
        • This can not be stressed enough. Use a very small amount of glue when joining your shaped coils. Too much glue may cause buckling or may show thus spoiling the professional look of your finished project.
        • If not using a glue bottle/applicator, you’ll need toothpicks or a needle to apply the glue to the shaped coil. Place your glue into a small open container (a contact lens case is excellent for this purpose) so you can dip your toothpick into it easily. Stir the glue often to keep it from forming a film or drying out. You can also put a damp sponge over it to keep the glue from drying out. HINT: A Contact lens case is very handy for holding your glue and the lid can be closed to keep your glue fresh.
        • In my opinion the best method for applying glue is to use an ultra fine glue applicator. Again use tiny drops of glue. HINT: A small glass with a wet sponge placed in the bottom will keep your applicator/bottle free flowing and prevent the tip from drying up. Place the bottle upside down with the tip touching the sponge.
      • TWEEZERS
        • You’ll find that a good pair of tweezers are excellent for placing those small pieces in the right place. I have several pairs. For more information on tweezers and the different types and their varied uses refer back to Chapter 2 – USEFUL QUILLING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES. Try several types to see which one works best for you. See Figure 61 which shows the different types of tweezers.
        • Tweezers can be used to hold your shaped coil while you put a few drops of glue on the edges you’re gluing together without damaging it.
        • Tweezers are useful to pull the center to your coils edge when creating concentric coils.
      • PINS
        • T-Pins or regular pins will help hold your pieces together while the glue dries. The pins will also allow you to put the project aside and finish it later should something come up ( something unimportant like preparing dinner LOL). I use several different T-pin sizes. For more information refer to Chapter 2 – USEFUL QUILLING TOOLS AND SUPPLIES.
        • As discussed before it is very important that you have a place you can put your pattern together and then glue it without someone knocking your work on the floor or bumping it. More important then the fact your project may be ruined is the chance of injury. I can tell you from experience that having a needle jammed into your finger or other body part is not enjoyable and can create a health hazard. Nothing spoils your day like having to go to the ER or doctor to get a tetanus shot.

    As you glue each piece together make sure you
    allow adequate time for the glue to dry. I usually glue small groups of
    pieces together before I glue the entire shape. As each group of shapes is
    glued make sure to secure it by placing a pin inside the shape (See Figure
    62). You’ll find that the glued shapes are very sturdy.
    After the pieces are glued together you’ll want to
    place the finished shape on a background. You’ll find that once the project
    is very flexible and can be manipulated into creating a 3D shape! Pegs can
    be used to create lift in various areas of the design ( Refer to Chapter 3 – BASIC QUILLING TERMS AND
    TECHNIQUES for more information about the use of pegs.) Now you’re
    ready to glue again. Remember less glue is more. To secure the
    design to the background I usually lift an edge, apply a tiny drop of glue, set it down lightly, repeating this procedure until the entire piece is secure. Do not use pins to secure the design to the background because the pin will create holes that will show, ruining your project.

    After the glue dries and the background can be lifted safely, you’ll want to finish your piece by framing it or placing it in your scrapbook or on a card.

    You can also spray the finished piece with acrylic spray to protect it and prevent aging. Many times I want the item to gain the soft yellowing often associated with aging.

    This is not the only method you can use.
    Some people prefer to tear a strip to the proper length, create the correct sized coil, shape it and pin it in place on the pattern, then they move onto the 2nd coil and repeat the action. After the piece is completed they will glue it. Others glue the shapes together as they finish them. This is not a good method in my opinion because there is no easy way to correct a mistake or change something that does not please you.

    I find that the method I use is faster and more efficient for me but may not work for you. You may even use a method used by no one else and that’s OK too. Each person must decide which method works best for them as we are all individuals and this is one of the areas in which there is no “RIGHT” method.

    Now you’re ready to create your 1st design.

    Copyright © Gael and Charlotte Stubbs, “Quill-ability, Quilling despite Disability. A Quilling book for Quillers of all ages and abilities ©2005 All rights reserved

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