So many things could be placed as the definitive symbol of summer. Depending on where you live, this could mean ocean waves, palm trees, barbeque grills, popsicles, pool floaties, or even Santa Claus! But I think the summer symbol we can all agree on, the one we all have in common, is the sun. All the summer experiences I’ve seen seem to revolve around the sun: getting outside when its in full glory at the beach, enjoying the bright early mornings, protecting ourselves from it by making sure to wear a hat, seeing it peeking through the trees, or staying inside away from it at times when it makes the earth too warm.

Since I’ve been on a summer theme kick lately, I wanted to choose the sun as my next subject for an art project. But what to do? The sun is present in virtually all artworks because its light is necessary to show depth and dimension, but as a subject usually gets relegated to the corner of a child’s drawing or painting.

Then I remembered quilling and got so excited to try a sun! I have been wanting to do another quilling project since I did my birds but have not been prioritizing it in my recent trials. Because of the curled nature of quilling, I knew that a loose, abstract sun would be a wonderful subject.

I went through my colored papers and selected a small variety of colors that, to me, represent my vision of the sun. I took them to my paper cutter and cut 1/3-inch strips. Remember, when working with a more delicate medium, such as these thin paper strips, smaller tools and movements are especially important. Be mindful of your materials and treat them with respect.

I began to compose my sun. I started with my typical quilling techniques and found it was too constrictive for my vision. The rays of the sun just didn’t come through correctly for me and I wasn’t getting that looseness I was trying to achieve. So, my paper manipulation became freer and less directive as I let the paper take control and just curl into the rays it wanted to curl into. Rolling, bending, and pinching the strips, and then letting them unfurl in a natural way, was the right call for me.

Gluing these strips is always a challenge, but that is where practice and patience come in. With practice and patience all students, myself included, can improve their skills. If you are determined to see something through, you can work through it and take your time to get it right.

What is used in this project:

  • 1/3-inch strips of colored construction paper in yellows, oranges, and pinks
  • A thick square of paper or cardboard for the background
  • Scissors
  • A pencil, round-handled paintbrush, or a proper quilling tool
  • White glue

How I created my sun:

  1. I cut my construction paper into 1/3-inch strips. I choose construction paper rather than pre-cut quilling strips because it can get a little pricey to buy the pre-made materials and I already had so much colored paper at home.
  2. Using a pencil, I wrapped my strips of paper around to get the curl I wanted. Sometimes I wrapped tightly, like for the center, and sometimes I wrapped loosely. Sometimes I even left some of the strip uncurled and only wrapped the end(s).
  3. I placed each strip to get the representation of the sun that made me happy.
  4. When the strips were placed to my satisfaction, I used white glue to secure them on the background. I needed to hold some strips in place for a minute or two, just to make sure they were fully adhered and wouldn’t unfurl where I wanted them to stay curled.

I made quite a few of these suns, and each sun I composed/built was completely different. Each time I started a new one I brought along the lessons I learned from all the previous trials. Art, and other skills we can learn, is not about failures but it is about that next step, which creates greater confidence and knowledge. My greatest accomplishments are from my willingness to just try it out, see what happens, and keep moving forward.