Old craft becomes new again to youngsters at Roanoke library

Reagan Hess (left), 8, admires the quilling work of his sister, Elli Hess, 7, as she winds up another strip of paper during the quilling class held Thursday, July 21, at the Roanoke Public Library. The siblings are the children of Jennifer Hess, of Roanoke.
Reagan Hess (left), 8, admires the quilling work of his sister, Elli Hess, 7, as she winds up another strip of paper during the quilling class held Thursday, July 21, at the Roanoke Public Library. The siblings are the children of Jennifer Hess, of Roanoke. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published July 25, 2016.

When there’s nothing new under the summer sun, some kids at Roanoke Public Library have learned they can trust something old to be a new fascination.

It’s called quilling — a craft that dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, explains Library Assistant Karen Baker, who led a class for kids on Thursday, July 21. Baker herself claims she’s a novice quiller, but says she found the art beguiling.

“My kids did it in school, so that’s how I knew about it,” she explains. “It’s an old paper craft.”

Quilling involves using strips of brightly colored paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together into circles. The circles, which resemble  spirals, are then measured, molded and pinched into shapes, which are then brought together — much like a jigsaw puzzle — to create a colorful work of art.

“It’s curling the paper into circles and shapes that makes a bigger image,” Baker says.

A modern bent to quilling is a spinning tool, which features a notch to fasten the end of the paper strip. The artist then turns the tool, keeping it secure as it winds into a concentric circle. A small drop of glue is added to the end of the strip to keep it together.

“From there, those circles all make different shapes,” Baker adds. The shapes can include a teardrop, triangle, square, half circle or tulip, among others.

Baker, who describes herself as a visual learner, got more tips from YouTube, which offers videos on quilling, and ideas on pictures that can be formed once the components are made. They can be anything from flowers, insects, birds and even cartoon characters and abstract designs. Letters can also be made, outlined with straight strips and filled in with quilled paper rolls for a whimsical effect.

Reagan Hess, 8, of Roanoke, and his sister, Elli Hess, 7, quickly became entranced with making the pieces of tiny, rolled paper. They got a head start on making shapes in several colors and sizes before deciding what kind of picture they would make with them.

“It looks like a monster eye,” Reagan said, as he held up a green roll pinched into a “lemon” shape. “I’m going to make two of them, just like that one, and make a monster. And then I can make an eagle.”

Elli quickly picked up the trick of getting the end of the paper on the tool then turning the tool to roll up a spool.

“I like the shapes,” she said, referring to the marquise and teardrop shapes she formed herself.

Baker says quilling is a craft that knows no age bounds, and she plans to offer another class for adults — or anyone who is interested, really — in an evening session sometime in the near future.

The quilling class is one of three offered at the Roanoke Library this summer. The next art class will be rock painting for teens, held Thursday, July 28, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the library, located at 314 N. Main St., Suite 120, Roanoke. Kids can bring their own rocks if they wish. Paint materials will be provided as well. For more information call the library at 672-2989.