My family is big on ornaments. Growing up our tree was a hodge-podge of vacation finds from around the world, antique pieces and homemade treasures. But for as long as I can remember, these little paper snowflakes made an appearance on my parent’s tree. I’ve always liked the look of them but never knew where they came from until a few years ago.
Turns out, my mom had made these “paper quilling” ornaments when she was first married. With my dad in grad school and my mom a teacher, funds were tight but she still wanted a pretty tree. While only a few are left, they’re now a sweet reminder of the fact that beauty doesn’t have to cost much. Romantic, right?
According to my brief research, paper quilling – or paper filigree – has been an artform for over 500 years. Long ago it was done as a way of embellishing religious documents and later, in the 18th century and Victorian eras, as a suitable artform for proper young ladies(1).
Paper quilling is fairly easy and mindless, although it can be time-consuming. It’s a good thing to do while watching TV. Basically you just roll the strips of paper into shapes and glue them together. Different shape combos of circles, scrolls, teardrops and such make up different snowflake patterns.
1/4″ strips of paper (or a quilling kit)
a tiny paintbrush, darning needle or something similarly sized
I would recommend buying a kit or two online to get started. They come with instructions, paper and design templates. After you get the hang of it you could make up your own designs.
I’ve also decorated a few of this year’s gifts with my quilled ornaments, which is a fun way to pretty up your gift wrap and give an extra little present at the same time.