Monday 31 January 2011

A silky smooth finish to the blog hop weekend

Well, the 'Life Is Sweet' blog hop proved to be a great success, thanks to excellent organisation by Sandy over at The Sweet Spot who master-minded it all!  Along with all my fellow 'hoppers' I'd like to say a big, big thank you to everyone who visited our blogs and left such encouraging comments ... and I'd especially like to welcome all the new Followers who have logged on to Quilliance after visiting this past weekend. I'm so glad to have you along for the ride!

In case you're still following the links for the Hop, you'll find the post I did for it here.

Meanwhile, the quilling goes on ... and I've got another Valentine's design to show you. The background for this one is a satin-effect heart which I managed to create in Photoshop Elements after following an excellent tutorial in the January 2011 edition of Papers and Pixels magazine.  (You can download the magazine via this link, and you'll find the tutorial on page 47). I was really pleased with the swirly effect, and I felt that it made the perfect background for some simple quilling. I made the rose by folding red and pink strips (glued together at one end) to create my favourite 'art deco' style type of bloom.  You simply fold the strips with your fingers instead of rolling them around a tool, and then let the resulting 'coil' relax into a loose curved-edge shape before trimming and gluing the ends. I was really pleased with the way the red and pink are offset by the magenta satin background, and used bright lime green for the leaves to make it all stand out.

Just before the blog hop began, I was honoured to receive 'The Love Blog' award from my friend Monica at Hand Made Cards With Love. Monica says that blogging is one of the best things that have happened to her, and she writes about her wonderful card projects with great enthusiasm. Do check out her blog to see her brilliant embossing and handmade flowers. And thank you, Monica, for the very kind words you said about me!

Saturday 29 January 2011

Life is sweet for my Valentine

Hi and welcome to Quilliance! If you've arrived here from Handmade by Regina on the Life Is Sweet blog hop, then you're in the right place!

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to post a Valentine card design. And what could be a sweeter background for the card than these gorgeous chocolates which I received as a treat on February 14th last year? Before eating the chocolates, I arranged them into a pattern and took a photograph, thinking that it would make an ideal subject for romantic cards. I have printed a section of the photo directly on to cardstock for this project, but you could easily cut out and glue down a similar picture and add some hand lettering if you wanted to copy this design manually.

The quilling is all quite simple. First, I made two hearts by joining pairs of teardrops, using deep red strips that I had run through my crimping machine. The crimping gives extra body to quilled coils: they tend to retain their tension when you remove them from your coiling tool, and because of that they are quite easy to shape into matching pairs. I used two half-length strips to make the teardrops for the smaller heart, and two full-length ones for the big heart.

Then I looked for some different colour strips to use for the filigree work. I ended up choosing brown and cream to echo the 'chocolates' theme. The filigree strips are all just 'S' shaped coils, with the ends coiled in opposite directions. For the brown one, I coiled more at one end than the other to give an asymmetric effect. Then I made two smaller S's from shorter lengths of cream strips, gluing them on to the centre of the brown strip opposite each other so that they form another small heart shape in the design. So there you have it: two ways of making quilled hearts in one pattern!

If you are a first-time visitor to Quilliance, do have a look around while you are here - I'd be delighted to welcome you as a Follower.

Then, when you are ready, hop off to the next Life Is Sweet destination at Suzana's Quilling With Fun blogspot.

In case you've got lost along the way, here's the complete list of sweet hopping blogs for today's event:

North American Quillers:

South American Quiller:

European Quillers:

Asian Quillers:

African Quiller:

Australian Quiller:

Thursday 27 January 2011

Join me on The Sweet Spot quilling blog hop Saturday 29th January!

Join me for a world tour of quilling blogs on Saturday 29th January, when Quilliance and several of my quilling friends will be taking part in an international 'blog hop' organised by Sandy over at The Sweet Spot.

The 'hop' begins at 08.00 EST (that's 13.00 UK time), and will take you on a voyage of discovery across five continents, picking up loads of quilling inspiration along the way.

The starting point on Saturday is here - then just follow the links to your next destination. We hope to 'see' you then!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

A floral canvas for quilling

Last year I did quite a bit of quilling with crimped strips, and decided to return to the technique when creating this new card. When you roll a crimped strip, the resulting coil has so much extra texture and remains fairly tight even when you have released the tension, which is great. I love the fact that you can easily create teardrop and marquise shapes with these crimped coils, and I think they make beautiful flower petals.

The background for this card comes from a photo I took last year featuring a beautiful display of sweet peas and other summer flowers. But - you guessed it - I've been playing with Photoshop Elements again, and managed to create a kind of 'brush strokes on canvas' effect with the image. Please don't ask me which filter I used, because I can't remember! (It may have been the 'spray strokes' one, but I got so excited by the visual effect that I forgot to note it down!!)

Anyway, I thought it made a lovely colourful background, and I've added a little drop shadow outside the circular frame on this card for added effect. Then all I had to do was add some quilled flower petals and leaves to echo the colours in the picture.

Monday 24 January 2011

Snowdrops and a quilled winter aconite

Well, the snowdrops really ARE coming up in our garden - but the weather is turning cold again, so who knows how long we still have to wait for Spring?

To cheer myself up, I've made this simple card featuring a photo of some of last year's snowdrops, which were growing alongside the tight yellow buds of winter aconites. I decided to quill one of the aconite buds which, like Spring itself, is tightly closed right now but full of promise.  Another month, and we should start to see Nature really stir ...

Saturday 22 January 2011

It started with some flowers ...

You know that expression which says: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well, I feel this very strongly today as I write the first post for Quilliance Year Two!

I mentioned yesterday how excited I am about the creative potential that I'm discovering in Photoshop Elements - especially the facilities for adding special effects to photographs. By clicking around in the Filters menu, I've discovered all sorts of exciting visual effects, including one which transforms a photo into segments like a stained glass window. I think it works best on pictures which contain tiny details of contrasting colours, like these flowers which I photographed on the wonderful island of Herm last year:

If you look closely, you can see tiny pin-points of colour dotted around the dark blue centres of the flowers.  And just look at what happens when you add the stained glass effect in Photoshop:

I was so pleased with this, that I felt compelled to use it as a background for a new quilled card - and here it is, complete with a quilled butterfly whose wing colours are intended to echo those little details which have been individually highlighted in the stained glass segments. The second photo shows them best of all.

To everyone who so kindly commented on my Blogoversary post yesterday: thank you all so much! Your comments mean a great deal to me, and your blogs are an inspiration too. I look forward to lots more shared creativity in the year ahead ...

Friday 21 January 2011


On this day, a year ago, I started my blog. Today, twelve amazing months later, Quilliance has found its place within the rich diversity of the crafting 'blogosphere', with many thousands of 'hits' recorded and 51 fabulous followers! What's more, it's added a wonderful new dimension to my life, allowing me to 'meet' and befriend fellow quillers and kindred spirits right across the world. Thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting and sharing - you have enriched me more than words can say.

Now, as I embark on Year Two, I'm every bit as excited about my craft as I was when Quilliance first started. Then, I was just beginning to explore the possibilities of combining quilling with photography to create unusual cards; now I'm being blown away by the capabilities of my newly-acquired Photoshop Elements software which has put my imagination into over-drive with a host of new ideas. As soon as I start working on them, you'll read about it here!

In my very first post, on 21st January 2010, I quoted from a prayer which I have tried very hard to make reality throughout  the past year of my life:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Today, I'd like to share a further thought, which is that true happiness springs from nothing more than simply noticing and appreciating the things we have.

Working on my crafts and writing Quilliance have genuinely helped me to understand the deep wisdom of these words. And now it is my pleasure to pass them on to you.

Thursday 20 January 2011

More springtime quilling

Everyone was very kind about my ballerina (see yesterday's post), but, to be honest, I'm not sure that quilling delicate little figurines is really quite my thing! I'm much more into the colours of Nature, unusual patterns and bold designs ... so I'm pleased to get back to my Spring theme once again with some floral quilling for this card.

The flowers in the top right-hand picture are from a photograph I took last Spring, featuring one of the most amazing floral displays I've ever seen. A brilliant array of bulbs and flowering plants had been assembled in a deep planter outside a tea shop that I visited in Marlborough (southern England), giving rise to such a profusion of colour that it literally took my breath away. In this design, I started by quilling just one of the flowers (a white-petalled daisy with brilliant sun-burst centre), and then added just a few more coloured shapes to echo the petals in some of the other blooms. The linking S-coil is, of course, in my favourite lime green which is guaranteed to lift the colour in any quilled design!

The photo at the bottom left features cherry blossom - another very welcome sign of Spring.

I'm pleased with this one ... hope you like it too!

Wednesday 19 January 2011

A quilled ballerina

I've had a few enquiries recently for cards which feature dancers. Ballet seems to be very popular among young girls at the moment, so I thought I'd have a go at creating a ballerina design. I started with my tried and tested 'four squares' background, and - yes, I KNOW I was going to give the lace borders a rest for a while, but in the end I just couldn't resist adding one to this card.

The ballerina was a bit tricky to create, especially as I didn't want to add extra thickness to the card by layering her arms. (Here in the UK, thicker cards mean extra mailing costs, and customers don't like it - understandably!) So here she is, anyway, with just one arm visible and hopefully just about enough grace to get through her first audition.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Some quilling to herald the coming of Spring!

My card box urgently needs some new designs, as the flowery ones are nearly all gone. So, as Spring is surely just around the corner, I decided to search for some early signs amongst the pictures in my photo collection. Snowdrops are an absolute must - they are starting to come up in the garden already. And purple polyanthus - I snapped these flowers last year, and their time has finally arrived!

I returned to my 'four squares' design format which has proved popular in the past: two photos, two coloured blanks and some quilling to link them all together. Starting with a simple S coil in my favourite fresh lime green, I simply added some detail from both the featured flowers. (It's hard to see in this photo, but the quilled polyanthus petal at the top left is a purple coil edged with white). As always, Nature has all the best colours and patterns, which I love to try and echo in my quilling.  I hope this design will convey some of the joys of Spring to the person who one day receives this card.

Friday 14 January 2011

Quilled boys' toys!

It's great to be selling cards again after the long Christmas break, and it means I've got some re-stocking to do - the perfect excuse to spend hours quilling! But in between the ever-popular flower and butterfly designs, I've had a couple of 'boyish' projects to do.

Firstly, I was asked to create this birthday card by a regular customer who loves designs with cut-outs. She wanted me to quill a train on the inside of the card that would show through at the front, so I did what she asked, adding a single cloud of smoke on the outside face of the card to link it all together.

And then I had another go at the 'Baby Boy' design, after some friends of ours recently became grand-parents. This time I have made the bear smaller and the balloon bigger (just as I had planned) and I think it works much better than the earlier version. (Apologies for the shadow on this card  - I had to take the photograph in artificial light.)

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Another quilled flower: making it up as I go!

Sometimes I find that one thing just leads to another where quilling is concerned.

I sold an 80th birthday card at the market last Friday and needed to replace it, with no particular idea of what to do - except that it should be a feminine design. So I started by printing a card with a pink panel and lace border (yes, I know, it's lace yet again - but these borders look so good!!)  Then, inspired by my friend Suzana's wonderful quilled orchids, I thought I'd start constructing a fantasy flower with flattened 'eye' shapes pressed together to form the bloom.  That looked OK, so I added some yellow stamens and a little green calyx - and then I went a bit crazy making leaves and tendrils with the green (just love that bright lime colour!). By this time, there was far too much green, and very little symmetry in the design - so I added another flower bud, and then two more just to balance everything up! I could still be quilling it now, but the whole design was starting to grow out of control and sometimes you just have to STOP, don't you?

So finally I did stop, and mounted the flower on the card with all its attendant buds and tendrils. And here it is:

Tuesday 11 January 2011

New arrivals with some quilling

Well, I'm still exploring the amazing capabilities of Photoshop Elements (PSE), and came across a whole array of clip-art shapes and images in the Editing Palette.

I needed a new 'Baby Boy' card after selling my last one on Friday, and while I was about it, I decided to update my 'Baby Girl' design, too. So I imported the bear and the stork images, and had a play around to create two new backgrounds for some quilled balloons.

The bear was originally brown and white, but I eventually managed to colour in the sections and get him on to a blue background - that's a few more steps forward for me on the PSE learning curve!!  The stork I just enlarged a bit and pulled on to a pink background.  Then all I had to do was add the quilled balloons.  Next time I'm going to make the bear smaller and the blue balloon bigger for the Boy card - but at least this is a start!

Sunday 9 January 2011

Quilling 2011: an encouraging start!

Well, I took my new lace border cards to the market on Friday, and immediately sold the pink one with the quilled roses! As the for pond picture with the quilled flag iris featured in my last post, it's still in my card box - but the editor of our local village magazine wants to use it on the front cover of her February edition ... so, all in all, it's been an encouraging start!

I'm still experimenting with the lace images, and here's my latest attempt to introduce a bit more colour into the design. This time I've pulled the lace border over a two-tone circle, and created a fantasy flower with joined-up strips in complementary colours to sit inside. I've used an open scrolling technique to make the main leaf sections, and couldn't resist adding some coiled tendrils to complete the design.

Thursday 6 January 2011

New digital horizons for my quilling

UPDATE: To find out more about digital quilling using Photoshop Elements, please click here.

ORIGINAL POST: I've recently invested in the Photoshop Elements photo-editing software package - and it's brilliant!! I'm still blundering around, discovering how to use it and exploring all the features - it's quite a learning curve for me! But I've already discovered some amazing effects.

To make the background for this card, I uploaded a colour photograph that I took last year of the 'scarecrow lady' who stands in our village pond, keeping guard over a floating duck house. By checking out the various effects in the Photoshop image editing menu, I stumbled upon one which turns a normal photograph into what looks like a charcoal drawing. What a transformation! I've used the resulting image as a background for this quilled card, adding some bright yellow quilled flag irises which really do grow around the pond in summer.

I'm really pleased with the effect, as the picture now has quite a restful, almost historical feel, and it sets off the colours brilliantly. Can't wait to try more of these ...

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Quilled flowers and lace - part two!

The set of digital lace images that I mentioned in yesterday's post also included this pretty ring border. I thought it looked lovely on a pink background, and then all it needed was the addition of some simple quilled flowers (made from red and pink strips, folded together).

It feels so good to be crafting again ... happy days!

Tuesday 4 January 2011

I'm quilling again ... with flowers and lace!

As promised, here's my very first new quilled card for 2011, and I'm starting the new year with a fresh background technique.

As followers of Quilliance will know, I've been using photographic backgrounds for my quilling for quite a while, but now that I'm getting more into digital art I've also started to see great potential for 'digi-scrapbooking elements' like this lovely lace border by Karen Stimson which can be downloaded as a 'freebie' by readers of Papers and Pixels magazine (December edition). It's actually part of a set of gorgeous lace designs.

Using my Mac Pages software, I simply pulled the lace image on top of a plain blue background for this card, and I felt it would make the perfect frame for an elegant quilled motif. So I've created this lady in a flowing dress carrying a huge bouquet of flowers.  I think the design has a delicate, summery feel - just what I need on a drab winter's day!

Monday 3 January 2011

Paradise regained!

Happy new year everyone! Now that the festivities are all over, I'm going to let you into a secret: I'm not really a great fan of Christmas. Here in the UK, normal life practically comes to a halt for the whole month of December as we prepare for and celebrate Christmas/New Year. It feels to me as if everything goes on hold until after New Year's Day - and even then, there's more to be done as all the decorations are taken down and put away.

But finally - finally! - I managed to get back into my craft room today, and have just spent the entire afternoon quilling for the first time in several weeks. What bliss! In fact, I remarked to my mother that it feels to me like 'Paradise regained'. Unfortunately, it was dark before I could finish and photograph the card designs I produced, so I will have to wait to post them over the next few days. Right now, all I have to show you is another digital layout which I have recently managed to complete, featuring what is, for me, another aspect of Paradise: the beautiful Isles of Scilly where we often spend our holidays. If you look closely, you'll see a little quilled starfish towards the base of the design. That's the best I can do in terms of quilling for today, but tomorrow I'll photograph my new quilled cards for posting here on Quilliance - and things really will be back to normal once again!


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