Monday 28 May 2012

Some flowers for summer!

No new posts here on Quilliance for over a week - what's been happening?  Am I slowing up?  Well, no, not at all .... it's just that I now seem to be moving away from making quick-fire quilled cards, and concentrating more on larger projects such as framed pictures, which take me longer to complete.

So, here's the first one I'd like to share with you: it's a floral picture, set on top of a mount, which has been inspired by the beautiful work I regularly see online from my Blogger friends Neli and Baukje.  I'm keen to experiment with making different types of flowers, and I read an article recently about using punched shapes to create interesting flower centres which is exactly what I've done for the purple bloom here - I actually utilised a Christmas punch in the shape of a sprig of three tiny holly leaves! Two offset leaf sprigs punched out of yellow paper and curled up inside each other created exactly the effect that I wanted to achieve!

Meanwhile, I've just received my NAQGCON competition entries safely back from America - no prizes for me this time, but it's been a really exciting experience to participate in such an important event on the international quilling calendar.  To add to my excitement, this video clip from American TV has recently been posted on YouTube, and I was delighted to see my quilled woodpecker picture on display in the background to one of the interviews (you can catch a good glimpse of it at 54 seconds into the clip).  I've decided not to reveal this picture fully on my blog just yet, because I'm thinking of entering it into one of the Quilling Guild competitions here in the UK in September ... but I just couldn't resist celebrating its unscheduled TV debut!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

It started with a small quilled brooch ...

If there's one thing that life has taught me, it's always to "expect the unexpected".  Well, I simply cannot imagine a better example of this than the tale I am about to tell.

Several years back, I sold this quilled rosebud brooch to a customer at our Friday market who has since become a very dear friend. Her name is Moya, and she has become a dedicated fan of my quilling work, often wearing a piece of original 'Quilliance' jewellery when she goes out.

Well, a few weeks ago, Moya visited a beautiful Tudor mansion close to where we live in southern England: it's a magnificent stately home and parkland estate called The Vyne which is owned and opened to visitors by an organisation called The National Trust.

Wearing her rosebud brooch, she spent several happy hours visiting the house and gardens, ending up in the property's enticing gift shop.

It was there that a member of the shop staff noticed and remarked on Moya's brooch. When Moya mentioned that it had been created by a friend of hers, the lady in the shop expressed great admiration and suggested that my quilling might be of interest to one of the managers at The Vyne. Telling me about this afterwards, Moya wasn't entirely sure whether that was because they might want to offer quilled items for sale in the shop, or whether there was some kind of exhibition coming up where quilling might be displayed ... but she passed on the name of a contact who turned out to be the 'Visitor Experience Manager' for the property, so I decided to get in touch.

The e-mail that I sent was necessarily vague, since I did not really know the precise context of the enquiry, nor the name of the lady that Moya had spoken to in the shop! Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and provided some links to photos of my work, not really expecting to receive any response.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when the Visitor Experience Manager contacted me last week, expressing interest in my quilling workshops! In my e-mail, I had included a few lines about the history of quilling, which seemed relevant since The Vyne is such a historic property. Crucially, I had mentioned that the art of paper filigree was a popular pastime for young ladies in the late 18th Century and had been referred to in a famous novel of the time ('Sense and Sensibility') written by Jane Austen.

Well, it turns out that there is going to be a 'Jane Austen Day' at The Vyne on 21st July 2012 - and I have been asked to go there and demonstrate quilling!

They are expecting visitor numbers to be "in the thousands", so my standard two-hour workshop format for 10 people would not really be suitable. Instead, I am going to offer visitors a choice of two different quick 'drop-in/hands-on' quilling activities: firstly, to make a simple quilled gift tag that they can take away with them; and secondly to make a single quilled shape that can be added to the decoration of a picture frame (to be retained by The Vyne), just as it would have been done in Jane Austen's time. The frame decoration is also something I can be working on throughout the day by way of demonstration.

I see this as an excellent opportunity to spread the word about the art of quilling, and help bring it back into the public eye. It's also exciting to think that this might potentially open up other opportunities to promote quilling in conjunction with The National Trust. Bearing in mind the adage of "expecting the unexpected", who knows just where this is going to lead?

Thursday 10 May 2012

More quilling on a marbled background

Several people have asked me to produce a tutorial about the cards I made recently where quilling was set against a marbled paper effect background. So, today, I set myself the task of creating another card design and writing a post about how I made it.

Well, there isn't really a great deal to explain about this particular background technique. I did not create the marbled paper myself: instead, I downloaded it free as a digital image from the excellent Photoshop Roadmap site, via this link. There is a range of different marble-effect patterns on offer, all completely copyright-free and therefore authorised for use in any application.

Having downloaded the digital image for the marbled paper used on this design, I printed it directly on to my card inside an oval-shaped frame at 80% opacity. To do this, I used Apple Mac's Pages software, but I could equally well have done it using Photoshop Elements. However, for anyone who does not feel not confident about working with digital images in this way, a similar effect could easily be achieved by printing out the image on a sheet of paper and cutting the desired frame shape using a craft knife and a stencil. This could then be glued in position on the card.

For my own digitally-created card background, I added a narrow border around the oval in deep magenta, before placing a matching 'Happy Birthday' text box beside the oval shape. However, I could just as easily have drawn a border around a cut-out shape by hand, and used a peel-off for my greeting.

I like to study the shapes and colours inside this kind of marbled paper image before deciding on a style of quilling that will complement it. In this instance, I decided that bright yellow would look striking against the bold swirly pattern of charcoal grey, so I made some simple flowers using pairs of conjoined strips in two shades of yellow (one bright, one pale), joining them together with some stems and leaves made in vibrant lime green. I like the way these colours tone with the deep grey background and magenta border/lettering.

Why not take a look at the marbled paper patterns for yourself, and wait for inspiration to strike?

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Starting afresh

Since my last post, I have been away on holiday to my favourite 'paradise islands' - the Isles of Scilly, which lie out in the Atlantic Ocean, 28 miles from the south-west tip of Cornwall in southern England.

Each day for a week, we found ourselves alternately bathed in sunshine and washed by heavy rain showers, culminating in a massive storm which kept us indoors all day Sunday - but, as always, the incomparable beauty of these magical islands lifted our spirits like no other place on Earth.

Suitably refreshed, I am keen to get back to my quilling again. This first piece is one of those 'fantasy flowers' that I just made up as I went along, experimenting with various leaf-style huskings which were created using a straight row of pins (my 'vertical alternative' to a quilling comb), then folded and enclosed. The flower is a multi-strip 'cut eccentric coil' with each of the cut ends rolled down by just a few turns. I haven't decided where I'm going to mount this quilling yet, but I'm sure I'll find a home for it!

More to come - I hope - over the next few days.


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