Happy second day of Fall! Here in Southern California, there isn’t much evidence of the changing seasons, but I’m getting myself in the spirit anyway. As someone raised in the Midwest, I look at photographs of the beautiful fall leaves with envy as my palms, pines, and pepper trees defy the calendar-approved official autumnal months. So to bring the beauty of fall to me, I chose the color changing autumn leaf as my subject for a quilling project. 

I consider quilling, otherwise known as paper filigree, an art with deep history and is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt. Quilling is an art form which takes skill and patience, as well as the usual practice to make an artist or craftsperson confident. I’ve shared some quilling projects with you before, and have been practicing since then to boost my artistic confidence.

There are tools and materials which aid in this amazing craft making exacting designs possible. Paper strips can be purchased pre-cut in different lengths, widths, colors, and patterns. The winding and curling of the paper can be done with a myriad of tools designed to give tighter or looser forms. There are stencils and templates for shapes, even combs to make an advanced weaving technique simple. These tools are all very useful and quite amazing in their variety. And I don’t use any of them. 

Here is what my set up looks like:

My form of “quilling” lends itself more to paper art, paper manipulation an abstract way to create a quilled look. My paper strips are not exact because I cut them myself with the help of a paper cutter. Each shape is not identical, color patterns are a bit more random. I favor a pencil or paintbrush as my tool to wind the paper, rather than the specific tools made for quilling, even though I have those in my art supplies too. I feel it is almost like unpracticed historic folk art.  

Now, I mean no disrespect to the artisans, craftspeople, and inventors who develop and create such wonderful tools and beautiful pieces of quilling art; they are impressive, and I am inspired by their effort and artwork. It’s just I personally have a difficult time following fundamental methods. My mind and hands seem to have a “go for it” mentality.  Stretch the rules, relax, follow the flow and do it your way.

Which brings me to the leaf design in this lesson. I stuck with a stereotypical fall leaf shape, like one from a maple tree, but once I began to fill in this design my “go for it” kicked in. I limited myself to just a few standard quilling shapes let my color plan fall into place as I grabbed what appealed to me. I pre-rolled the ends of some pieces to make the process easier. Being prepared and spending time on a little extra prep work and organization, like pre-curling some paper strips for quilling, makes me feel more confident and calmer when I’m creating my artwork.

My two examples are very different, as I had a different time frame for finishing each one. The first was done in spurts of time, picking it up and putting it down when I needed to, with no concern for how long it took.

The second, the leaf from the video, I  completed from start to finish in about 20 minutes and in one sitting. Doing your crafts and artwork in a limited time frame really affects the “exactness” of your piece.  Yet the spontaneity of time limits is also a gift as you can “go for it”.

If you have the freedom to do so, taking your time for any project will bring different results than you would have in a time crunch, but do not let it make you overthink or judge your work too harshly. Remember, this is a learning journey always. Keep in mind what your intentions are, feel free to take as much or as little time as you please because it is YOUR work.

Art has that freedom to it, no correct answer as you learn, no mistakes if you keep trying and a wealth of knowledge from your efforts.

So, if you’re one who enjoys and feels comfortable with exactness, then you do it. If you’re apt to “go for it” and see what develops, then do it. The time you take contributes to your uniqueness as an artist, putting your personal stamp on it, and no one can take that away.