Quilling Out

In the art of quilling, all it takes is a little bit of glue, a lot of thin strips of paper, and a healthy amount of patience to create something beautiful and unique.

As usual, the Mattapoisett Free Public Library offered up more than books on Saturday, November 4, in its downstairs lecture room turned craft room for the day.

Children’s Services Director Jeanne McCullough knows a thing or two about quilling, a.k.a. paper filigree. She did a lot of quilling, she said, “B.C.”

“Before children,” said McCullough, when she would spend hours upon obsessive hours getting into quilling projects. Now she is passing on the basics of that skill to others who have a little bit more time to enjoy it.

The art of quilling is the careful twirling of thin strips of paper into tiny curly-Qs that are then glued at the end to keep them from unraveling and attached to other “teeny tiny toilet paper rolls,” as McCullough described them, to make a larger cohesive shape, such as an animal, flower, landscape, or anything else the imagination can spin out. You’re really only limited by your supplies and the patience you can muster up to see your creativity through.

McCullough led a group of about ten kids of at least fourth-grade age (younger kids likely lack the attention and fine motor skills) step by step with her homemade quilling tools (a thin wooden dowel with a clipped wide-eye needle at the end). With the paper strips stuck neatly to the end of the little “fork,” the group began their chosen “recipes” from quilling books offered at the library.

“Hold it steady with your fingers to make one nice even roll,” said McCullough. And watch out for those “tornados” that can result from the unsteady spiraling out of the paper strip.

Once the little rolls were finished, McCullough and the kids carefully dotted the end with a touch of glue from the end of a toothpick and let it dry on some parchment paper so it doesn’t stick.

The ‘quiller’ can control the tautness of the paper roll, and pinch it at different points to make shapes other than circles, and even add different colors to the rolls by gluing different paper strips together at their ends and continuing to spin.

It looks easy enough, but with practice it can become second nature, McCullough said.

The quilling supplies and books containing quilling project ideas will remain out and on display for anyone to use at the library’s STEAM center.

“So now you can sit and quill ‘til your heart’s content,” said McCullough.

So come chill out and ‘quill out’ at the Mattapoisett Library. Happy quilling, everyone!

By Jean Perry

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