Sometimes I wonder how on earth I discovered certain things, but I distinctly remember learning how to do paper filagree(aka quilling) when I was in seventh grade. We were living in Los Alamos, NM (my father was a physicist, doing research there part of each year; we lived in Bryan, Texas the rest of the time). I must have found a book about quilling (I discovered calligraphy that same year) and found the paper strips somewhere. It is all a blur now, but it was fun to learn the different ways you could roll and pinch paper.
Most quillwork in museums dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was first practiced by Renaissance nuns and monks who are said to have made artistic use of the gilded edges of worn out bibles, and later by 18th century ladies who made artistic use of lots of free time.
Here are the basics of quilling, if you happen to have some thin strips of paper laying around (you roll the paper strips around a quilling needle tool, which looks something like a potters needle or awl):
And here’s a kit you can purchase if you are so inclined:
When I was finishing up my book, Playing With Paper, I happened to be in North Adams, MA visiting Storey Books, the publisher of my other books. Someone at Storey told me about Lisa Nilsson, who lives in North Adams. She happened to be out of town, but thankfully returned my e-mail and agreed to have her artwork featured in the gallery section of the book.