Designer Q & A: Meet Jewelry Designer Ann Martin, Author of The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry

Holding Ann Martin’s quilled Art Deco Earrings in my hand one day, I actually had to remind myself they were made of paper and glue, not silver as they first appeared. While the delicate coils reflected light and gave the illusion of metal, they felt surprisingly lightweight yet sturdy.

In her new book The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry, the quilling enthusiast and All Things Paper blogger shows readers how to turn narrow strips of metallic-edge paper into their own earrings and pendants. Curious how she got into making jewelry, we sat down for a quick Q&A about quilling and finding inspiration.

Jodi: Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Ann. Quilling is such a beautiful art form but not everyone knows about it. How did you get started?

Ann: About a dozen years ago, an article in Martha Stewart Living magazine caught my eye—who knew swirling flourishes could be created just by rolling and shaping strips of paper?! The designs were so pretty, I knew immediately that I must learn to quill. I set about reading everything I could find on the subject and asked questions of quilling enthusiasts I met online. I joined a Yahoo group a few years later and made my first jewelry piece, a rainbow/pot o’ gold brooch for a March exchange among worldwide members. I’ve enjoyed rolling narrow strips of paper, the art/craft known as quilling, ever since.

Designer Q & A: Meet Jewelry Designer Ann Martin, Author of The Art of Quilled Paper Jewelry

Art Deco Earrings by Ann Martin

J: Your blog All Things Paper features an amazing variety of quilled projects. What inspired you to start making jewelry?

A: Handmade greeting cards are a common use of quilling, but because they require quite a bit of effort for something that is soon hidden away in a drawer or, gasp, discarded, I realized I wanted to make something that would be long lasting. Quilled jewelry is durable and can be worn again and again. I love that I can create a piece in the evening and wear it the next day. Plus, quilled jewelry makes a terrific gift because it’s so unusual, not to mention lightweight and comfortable to wear.

J: The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry features twenty different designs. How did you come up with the projects?

A: I found that while making one design, I would start thinking up the next and one idea led to another. Before long I had quite the collection of pieces that were gathered in the book. I chose to limit them to necklaces and earrings because they generally stay out of harm’s way when worn. But of course, we’re talking paper here, so a reasonable amount of care needs to be taken when wearing quilled jewelry. You don’t want to get it wet or hold a baby who loves to grab and squeeze shiny things. Eyeglasses usually survive, but a lacy, quilled pendant might not.

Designer Q & A: Meet Jewelry Designer Ann Martin, Author of The Art of Quilled Paper Jewelry

Double Ring Pendant by Ann Martin

J: All of the projects in your book are gorgeous. Just out of curiosity, do you have a favorite?

A: It’s difficult to pick a favorite, but I am partial to the Double Ring Pendant. I remember making it on the evening of December 31st while the house was quiet and still. I was concentrating so deeply, a few pleasant hours flew by in a flash. It was such a good feeling to look at the pendant the next morning in the light of a brand new year. The circular design makes me think of the sun with its life-giving rays. I especially like the center ring of domed tight coils because they add an extra layer of dimension.

J: For those new to quilling, which project or projects in your book would you recommend trying first?

A: The projects in The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry are arranged from simplest to most complex, so I recommend starting with the first one, the Shooting Star Earrings, followed by its companion piece, the Celestial Flower Pendant.

Designer Q & A: Meet Jewelry Designer Ann Martin, Author of The Art of Quilled Paper Jewelry

Shooting Star Earrings (left) and Celestial Sun Pendant (Right) by Ann Martin

J: Are there any particular tools you recommend for beginners?

A: There is truly no need to purchase tools or supplies at first. You can cut a sheet of printer paper into 1/8″ strips and practice rolling them one at a time on any slim, sturdy wire, and then pinch the coils into various shapes. My first tool was a cake/muffin tester from my kitchen drawer, but a cocktail stick, bamboo skewer or even a round toothpick will work for rolling as well. Once you’ve decided you enjoy quilling, you can buy an inexpensive quilling tool, a package of multicolored strips, and a bottle of paper crafting glue.

J: Do you have any tips for new quillers?

A: The most important thing a new quiller can do is practice. Be accepting of the fact that it takes time to perfect the rolling technique — you’ll want your coils to spring open evenly and be uniform in size. But don’t let the idea of practicing deter you from giving quilling a try. Within a few hours, your fingers will be familiar with the feel of the paper and the tool. Pretty quick for what may turn out to be a lifetime hobby!

To give quilled jewelry the look of metal, use silver, gold, or copper edged papers. They’re beautiful and readily available from online suppliers, such as Custom Quilling, Quilling Supply Plus, and Whimsiquills.

For a bonus project from Ann and more, see these posts:

-Jodi Butler
Content Editor, Craft Books

Learn to make your own wearable paper art with The Art of Quilling Paper Jewelry


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