The history of quilling art

Quilling art is the art form of rolling paper strips into different shapes and putting them together to create art work.

There is no evidence concerning the origin of this art, but it is commonly believed to have developed after the invention of paper in China around 150 BC. Another reference to this art appears in the Ancient Egypt. There is no doubt that the art has a long history and has spread worldwide.

Around 300 to 400 BC, silver and gold threads were wrapped around pillars and vases or combined with beautiful gemstones for decoration. During the 1200’s, this art was common until the materials used became expensive then colour paper strips were used instead. There are a lot of debates about the origin of the art and many countries claim it started in their backyard. There is definitely a multicultural feel to this art.

Documents relating to quilling exist since the 1200’s but they are more detailed from around the 1500’s, a time when French and Italian nuns used the torn strips of bibles rolled by goose feathers to decorate religious items and pictures which would explain where the name quilling came from.

Historical events show that quilling became popular in the early 1700s to the early 1800s ( Georgian times) in Europe and England. The art became a common hobby for girls, being taught to roll paper around a needle. Some schools promoted the art as a classroom activity. Some of the art work from around this time is still in existence with the school girl’s name on the back. It remained popular until the 1800s (Regency era) but then its popularity faded by the late 1800s.

Quilling was a recreational activity for idle upper-class women who used the art to decorate interiors spaces such as curtains, kitchen cabinets, frames, tea boxes, wine trays, baskets, toolboxes, wine makers, and even beds or tables and chairs. Some single men may have taken time to make pictures for their fiances. Later, migrants brought the art to the USA, and it has undergone several stages of renaissance until this day. Nowadays quilling become more commercial with high demand for pictures, cards and interior decorations enriched by this art.

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