Many of you have written to me to ask me more about quilling, so here are the basics. Quilling is known most commonly as paper filigree, and it is traced back to the 14th and 15th centuries. (Other names include paper-scrolling or paper mosaic.) Many believe that French nuns and monks created this technique to decorate religious objects, and the designs are believed to simulate wrought iron and carvings of the day. The technique gained the name quilling when American settlers used bird quills as their main instrument.
In short, quilling is the art of rolling or curling paper. The paper strips often come in bundles such as this. And, the paper is wrapped around the end of the slotted quilling tool shown here. You will be able to purchase them on numerous web sites. I purchased mine at a Dick Blick art store.
One should insert the very end of the paper into the slot, start twirling to wrap the paper evenly, give one final twist to tighten the roll, and release the paper. The end result will be a coil such as this. After the end of coil is attached with a tiny drop of glue, the quiller can leave the coil as a circle or pinch and twist it into particular shapes such as a teardrop.
Artists will then combine these coil shapes with other maneuvers of paper. Bending, folding, curling the paper like you would curling ribbon... If you search the internet, you will see all types of beautifully elaborate work - not just these goofy animals. I bought a beginner book, and these just happen to be the examples that are provided. But, many of you might recognize this technique after looking at a family member's framed wedding invitation or marriage certificate. Click here for some examples from the 2002 International Festival of Quilling.