Sunday 16 March 2014

'Pretty Quilled Cards' - a book review

When I first started paper quilling (self-taught, from books), I quickly abandoned my early attempts to create loose and open coils in favour of huskings wound around pins on a board - they seemed so much easier and more reliable to make! Confused by an array of apparently contradictory instructions for rolling coils through slots, around needles and between my fingers, I actually avoided this most basic of quilling techniques for at least six months, before finally resolving to 'tame' those errant coils forever.

The rest, as they say, is history ... but I wish I could have found a book to help me gain a real insight into the behaviour of unruly paper strips right from the beginning.

The introductory section of a new book, by Quilling Guild member Cecelia Louie, would have done the job perfectly. Cecelia's book, entitled 'Pretty Quilled Cards: 25+ Creative Designs for Greetings & Celebrations', is a new addition to Lark Crafts' library of crafting publications, and I was delighted when Cecelia approached me recently to ask if I would review it.

The book has much to offer quillers at all levels, beginners and experienced filigree artists alike. It focuses solely on designs which can be created with loose coils and open scrolls (with just a little fringing and weaving thrown in) - but how versatile these techniques are! Cecelia's work is, by her own admission, very 'loose' and open in style, but this strongly reflects the almost 'graphical' approach to quilling that is currently gaining popularity in the world of commercial art. It looks amazing.

The instructional section is comprehensive, not only explaining clearly how to roll coils both with a slotted tool AND a needle, but also revealing the valuable secrets of how to sculpt paper strips into desired shapes by 'softening', 'rubbing' and 'scraping'. This is all knowledge that I have gained instinctively over the years through a lengthy process of trial and error, but how wonderful it would have been to have had it at my disposal when I was learning! With this book, I'd say you can learn how to 'tame' your strips effectively right from day one.

The projects in Cecelia's book are attractively presented in a ground-breaking way, with actual-size illustrations of every component for each of her designs. Strips can be measured out by laying them along printed guide lengths, which are marked to show the precise locations of necessary folds, cuts and gluing points. Each project is graded to indicate its degree of difficulty, but even those marked at the highest skill levels should be straightforward to accomplish since every element of the design is described and illustrated individually.

I found Cecelia's written instructions to be precise and easy to follow, especially as they are accompanied by consistent cross-referenced step numbers and diagram annotations. I also liked the fact that the book includes various background designs and embellishments which can be photocopied and incorporated directly into card designs.

I learned quite a few things, too - like how to create a complete ring of flower petals from a single strip, simply by 'softening' and creasing. I was also intrigued by the idea of crimping a glued-together bundle of strips while the glue is still wet - the end result looks just like thick icing - and a nifty little trick to create a very authentic looking umbrella handle ... I'm going to have to try that one!

There are many ideas in this book that I will definitely take up and incorporate into my own designs. For anybody just starting out on their own quilling adventure, too, I would say that this is a book which is certain both to empower and inspire, with an impressive range of projects to make and be proud of!

'Pretty Quilled Cards' is now available on Amazon via this link.


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