I’ve had a few people ask me for advice on quilling letters. While I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, trial and error has led me to a few tips. When I started quilling, I used to print out my type on plain paper, then trace it (very lightly) on to the Bristol or whatever paper I intended to quill on. This certainly works, but I found that if my letters didn’t exactly line up with my marks, they would be visible in the finished piece. And it was near impossible to get an eraser in close enough to get rid of them. Also, glue + eraser dust is a bad combination.
Eventually, I bought a light box. Mine was about $65, with around 12” x 18” working space, plenty big for my usual size work (12” x 12”.) I’ve been very happy with it for about 2 years now. I’m able to project my design onto the Bristol, and really the only trick is to make sure everything lines up correctly before you tape things down- crooked quilling makes everyone sad.
All that being said, here are a couple of things I’ve learned:
Keep it Simple, Stupid
When I’m planning type, I play around in Illustrator with different fonts. I try to find a typeface that will reflect the feel I’m going for, while not being impossible to execute in paper. I usually stick to sans-serif fonts, especially for pieces with more than a few words. One fancy letter? Go for it. A whole sentence in a script font? Forget it.
Bigger is Better
It sounds obvious, but it took me a while to learn that trying to quill half-inch letters is much more difficult than quilling inch-and-a-half letters. Unless I have a compelling reason to make my letters tiny, I go for broke and make them HUGE. Well, maybe not HUGE, but at least, not little-bitty.
Cut Glue Once
I think this is supposed to be about carpentry, but it applies to quilling as well. Make double sure your strip is the right length before you glue it down. Once it’s glued, unless you have a very steady hand and an extremely sharp Exacto blade, you’re not going to be able to trim or remove that sucker.
Bit by Bit
I’ve found it easier to do letters in pieces, rather than trying to make an entire letter in one go. It’s a bit tricky to glue down a whole “m”, but easy enough to tackle it in two or three sections. Try to make your sections meet at the corners of the letters, but if you need to join two pieces in the middle, be sure to tear the ends of your strips to give them an uneven surface- they will blend together better than a sharp straight overlap.
And I’m afraid that’s about it. There’s no magic to quilling letters, just trial and error. And patience. I hope these tips help, and happy quilling!