Paper Filigree/Quilling
Media Type: assemblage

Objective:  To use common, everyday materials to create visually intriguing artwork.

Materials: Paper (any color), glue, scissors, a pencil, ruler (optional) cardboard or cardstock (optional)

“Quilling” is the modern name for the art of Paper Filigree that was initially popular in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The artform is an exercise in using the common materials at-hand to imitate extravagant and elaborate carvings and metalwork.

Take a few minutes to explore this history of quilling. The website is also a great resource for future quilling project ideas here.


  • Cut many uniform strips of paper. Be mindful to keep the edges as straight as possible. You may want to use a ruler or straight edge.

  • Wrap one strip at a time around a pencil to create a coil. Repeat the process with all the strips of paper.

  • Put a tiny amount of glue on the end of the coil and gently press the end down to close the circle. Be mindful to wipe away any excess glue. Set aside to dry and repeat the process with all the other coils.

  • You might choose to create a variety of shapes other than circles. If you pinch one side of the circle, you can make a teardrop shape. If you press the circle totally flat you will make a leaf shape. If you press it flat one direction, then open it up and press it flat the other direction, you will create a square! Experiment!

  • Now it is time to glue the coils into a decorative design. Ideally, the coils should be glued to something stiff, like cardboard or cardstock, but regular paper will work if that’s all you have. You will need a spare piece of paper or cardboard to use as your gluing surface as well. Apply glue to the gluing surface and spread it out into an even layer.

  • Lay the coil in the glue on the gluing surface, then pick it up and place it onto your image area.

  • Repeat many times.

Well done!