Today is the first day of spring, and what better way to celebrate this beautiful, colorful, fresh season than with a glimpse into the creative life of Alli Bartkowski, author of Quilled Flowers: A Garden of 35 Paper Projects. Alli is the founder and owner of Quilled Creations, the world’s leading provider of paper quilling supplies, and she’s an accredited member of the North American Quilling Guild.
With how-to photos, step-by-step instructions, and templates for every project, Quilled Flowers is filled with a gorgeous array of blooms including a Peony Bouquet, Zinnia Gift Bows, a Ranunculus Hair Comb, Pretty Potted Violets, flowered cards, stand-alone blossoms, and inspiration for weddings, gifts, and décor of all styles. Join Alli as she shares a fresh take on paper quilling through her own original designs and techniques, and celebrate spring by creating your own garden of paper flowers!
How would you describe the book Quilled Flowers to someone who hasn’t yet read it?
Alli: Quilled Flowers is book that will inspire you to learn how to quill! It’s full of projects and techniques for the beginner to the very experienced crafter. Quilling is often seen flat and in two-dimensions for cards or in frames. But for this book I wanted to also bring the beauty of quilling to life in three-dimensions through flowers that can be placed as a centerpiece on your kitchen table.
Alli: My family and friends’ feedback was my favorite experience. Many of them would ask me to create their favorite flower for the book. They inspired me to try making flowers that I’ve never created with quilled shapes. So when I see those projects in my book, I think of them. For example, my younger daughter fell in love with foxgloves. So for that framed project, I added two little bees to remind me of her and her sister.
Do you have a favorite project among this garden of beautiful paper creations?
Alli: My favorite project would be the ranunculus or peonies. I made so many of these spiral cut flowers with different edges, shapes, sizes and colors. I was determined to perfect this technique because I could see the potential in this idea. There’s also nothing like using your hands to really crinkle, mold, and shape paper into something so beautiful! When I show my students this technique, they usually gasp when I tell them to crush the spiral in their hands! But it really works! Our hands can be the best tools!
Alli: When I travel on the airplane, I like to take my quilling along. I also love quilling on long car rides with my husband driving (of course). It helps me from getting carsick! But the most interesting place would be where my friend ended up bringing her quilling. While in labor, she took her quilling to the hospital to pass time between contractions. Let’s just say she was able to introduce quilling to many nurses and doctors there!
In the book, you describe the first time quilling caught your attention and how it inspired you to begin experimenting and designing on your own. What is it about the art of rolling and shaping strips of paper that you think speaks to you as an artist?
Alli: As an artist, I loved the idea that simple strips of rolled paper could be turned into art. It’s a medium that is very forgiving. If you made a shape that didn’t look right, then it’s easy to change and fix. So, when designing my own creations, it was fun to play and experiment with designs. After a while, I started to see things in quilled shapes (teardrops, squares, triangles) and that’s when your mind starts exploding with inspiration.
Alli: I do like petite projects because I know I can finish them within a day or weekend. But I would love to do a large-scale piece someday. My dream piece would be a life-size quilled fashionable gown to display at tradeshows.
Creating artwork is always a blend of innovation and inspiration, and the work you created in Quilled Flowers is clearly inspired by the beauty in nature. Who are some artists whose work inspires you, and why do you appreciate their creativity?
Alli: I admire the work of Yulia Brodskaya. She has really taken quilling to an art form that is contemporary and visually stunning. Her pieces tell a story and it draws you into her world. She has an amazing eye for colors, symmetry and balance.
By writing this book, you’re inspiring readers of all experience levels to dive into the art of paper quilling, and Quilled Flowers is undoubtedly reaching readers who are new to the practice. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with first-time quillers?
Alli: I’ve taught many first-time quillers and they all have the same excited comments after their first quilled project, “it is really easy to learn!”, “it looks so complicated, but it’s so simple”, “I can’t believe all you do is pinch the coil.” That’s the hurdle I always have to face, getting other to try it and so that they see how easy it is. But once they do, they’re so glad they did.
Thanks so much for sharing, Alli, and congratulations on the publication of Quilled Flowers!
For another look at the art of paper quilling, visit my post about paper quilling and some of the artists creating beautiful work with paper.