Quilling is the art of rolled, shaped, and glued paper that results in creating a unified, decorative design. The name quilling is thought to come from the origin of the art; birds’ feathers, or quills, were used to coil the strips of paper around.
The art of quilling has been around for centuries, with a remarkably varied historical background spanning across continents. The birth of quilling is a bit unclear, with opinions regarding this differing depending on the source. Popular opinion suggests that it was first seen in ancient Egypt, where certain filigree-type art inspired more modern quilling years later.
Quilling has persevered through time, most notably making its mark throughout the Western world. During the Renaissance, nuns and monks would roll gold-gilded paper trimmed from books to adorn religious objects, mimicking costly gold filigree. In later years, quilling continued to be practiced throughout Europe as it caught on as a leisurely activity for affluent women. They would adorn objects such as picture frames, baskets, and jewelry boxes.
Today, quilling is resurfacing again as a more accessible, affordable hobby for people of every age and background.
People practicing quilling today are afforded many options for tools and an array of different weight, quality, and thickness of paper. There are a few ways to approach beginning a design. For our line, we assign each artist one design for the most efficient workflow. This way, she can get to know the design and create a consistency in her work and our final product. We begin each card with a preliminary drawing of what the card will be.
Using a slotted needle tool, we ‘thread’ laser-cut strips of kishu paper (a high-quality, Japanese paper) through the tool and coil it around to create a tight coil. Each shape that makes up a card begins as a tight coil. From there, the coil is relaxed and molded with fingers or tweezers until the desired shape is attained, and is then glued down onto the card. This process is repeated again and again, until the quiller has layered on the entirety of the final design.
Quilling Card, rooted in Vietnam, has been incredibly fortunate to assemble a team of women who have become passionate about the art of quilling. In 2015, we were honored to become Fair Trade Certified with the Fair Trade Federation. The organization focuses on maintaining a code of values for just treatment of employees. They encourage growth and sustainable business all over the world. Saying a product is ‘handmade’, especially overseas, can often carry a negative connotation if there is no transparency about the working conditions and treatment of employees. Allying with the FTF, we are proud to have established successful, flourishing business practices.
In May of 2014, we opened the doors to our first factory in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. We were able to employ over 100 quillers, providing a stable, safe work environment with healthcare, and food benefits. We are continually striving to create a community of women that love the craft and genuinely enjoy the creative outlet that quilling can provide, while simultaneously providing a living for themselves. With the rapid growth of our business, we were able to open a second factory soon after, starting with more than 60 quillers. We have now given jobs to nearly 500 locals in Ho Chi Minh City.
In addition to our wonderful team, Quilling Card has also been able to establish a Cottage Industry in Vietnam. Societal aid for those with disabilities is not the same as it is in the US, and often leaves people out of work and helpless. We have set up a program where these members of the community can come take our supplies and complete work in their home, on their own time. They are paid per piece finished, and are able to contribute and create beautiful work they otherwise would not have the chance to do.