A Short History of Quilling

Before quilling arrived in Vietnam, it was already seen in many countries. There hasn’t been proper documentation on how the quilling art was started. Most people understand that quilling started after the invention of paper in China, however other have claimed that quilling started in ancient Egypt. Regardless of where quilling originates, it has spread around the world. For example, around 300-400 AD, people used the quilling techniques to roll silver and gold threads around pillars and vases, and combined them with gemstones. In the 1200s, this art form was very popular until coloured metals became scarce and more difficult to manoeuvre by hand. Coloured paper was then replaced.

There are some documents recording quilling paintings from 1200 but quilling became more prominent when French and Italian nuns rolled up paper strips from old and torn bibles to decorate religious items and pictures. The word quilling, which refers to using a goose feather has been transformed to mean paper filigree, when the nuns used paper to decorate rather than silver and gold threads.

The ladies of leisure practiced the quilling art in the 1600s and 1700s. In the Stuart period, quilling became popular in the beginning of the 1700s and in the Georgian period in the 1800s, in Europe and England, quilling became a trend and hobby for many young women, and was taught in school. Young women could show their craftiness by quilling flower to decorate blinds, cupboards, tea boxes, card tables, tool boxes, wine vases, and furniture. But quilling wasn’t a pastime for working women, as they couldn’t afford materials such as metal, acrylic, shells that are used to decorate with quilling. Moreover only the upper class women would have time to practice this meticulous art form.

This art form was taught at school. One can still find quilling products done by pupils with their names and schools penciled in. This art form was popular in the Regency period in the 1800s then faded towards the end of the century. There were some unsuccessful efforts in reviving the art form. Immigrants have brought this art from to North America, and it has gone through many transformations and has been revived today.

Quilling or paper filigree is an art form using creativity of the hands, brain and characters. Tiny strips of coloured paper are rolled, shaped and glued together on different fabric and materials, turning them into special products and bringing a fresh breath of air to arts.