Greetings, crafty ones! Jenn, here, with a beginner's guide to quilling for anyone who wants to learn something new (or old, as the case may be)!
Quilling has been around quite a while--we're talking 16th or 17th century, at least, and possibly even as far back as Ancient Egypt. It only uses a few special tools (that are very inexpensive to pick up in most craft stores or make yourself), narrow strips of paper, and, of course, a good glue.
While any glue that dries clear will work, I prefer Helmar Super-Tac Glue because it holds quickly and dries pretty fast, too. Quilling requires a certain amount of precision-gluing, however, so I would normally pour out a small puddle of glue and use a toothpick to apply small dabs to the end of the quilling strips. That method works but it can be a bit wasteful, so for this post I picked up an ultra-fine writer tip in the craft paint aisle and it fit my bottle of Helmar Super-Tac Glue perfectly. This made applying just enough glue very simple and completely mess-free.
The quilling tool has a narrow slot where you insert the paper. This keeps the end from slipping around and makes your task of rolling the paper around and around in a coil. The coil is what quilling is all about, through there are a lot of things you can do with that simple coil.
You can leave the coil tightly-wound, securing the free end with a dab of Helmar Super-Tac Glue. These tight coils can be used as building blocks for quilled images or as supports for multi-level designs.
Or you can let the coil unwind a little (or a lot), still securing the free end with Helmar Super-Tac Glue. A tool like the one shown above has different sizes holes you can set your coils into to keep them uniformly shaped; useful for creating different shapes.
Because it's not all about the circles--that's just the beginning. A loose coil can be used to make all sorts of different shapes, depending on where you pinch the edges.
A single pinch at one end creates a teardrop shape that can be left as-is or curved. Or you can push down the rounded end of the teardrop towards the center to make a heart. Two pinches opposite each other make a marquis-shape. Once again, you can curve the pinched ends to make a more fluid marquis.
If you make the pinches closer together you can get a half-circle for your troubles, and with a little more manipulation an arch is formed. Three pinches gives you a triangle, and four a square. If you pull two opposite corners of the square out you can make a diamond, or space your pinches closer together by pairs to make a rectangle.
Those were all "closed" shapes, you can also curl one or both ends of a strip and leave it free to make swirls and swoops and scrolls.
To secure your shapes to a card base, item, or each other, dot some Helmar Super-Tac Glue along the edges of the coils, on whichever side you decide is the bottom.
Once you get the hang of the basic shapes, you can branch out and get creative. For the whale card I slipped the quilling tool onto the center of some paper strips to create the waves, and used two strips of blue paper to create a large curved teardrop for the body of the whale and an open heart (two ends of a folded strip curled in towards the center) for the tail. A 3/4 square for the corner sun and twisted marquis shapes for the rays.
Most quilling strips have straight edges, but I recently found these shaped strips at the store and they make amazing flowers. Once you coil the strip and secure the end, you gently peel back the "petals" to create the flower. Just imagine what you could do with some pretty border dies!
These are all examples of relatively flat, or 2-D, quilling. Using larger strips or other tools (quilling combs are a thing) can vary what you do with quilling. There are some amazing examples of miniature sculptures online from the various quilling guilds in the US and Europe. I hope you'll give it a try!
Wishing you creative days!