How to Make a Quilling Tool

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Quilling is the art of rolling narrow strips of paper and pinching them in certain ways to form specific shapes, a technique that began in the 13th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe, the art was known as "paper filigree," but when the art spread to the American colonies, the colonists dubbed the technique "quilling." Today, crafters can buy quilling paper in many colors, already cut into thin strips, as well as several types of quilling tools. One of the most useful of the quilling tools is one that has a wooden handle and on one end has a metal piece that resembles an enlarged eye-end of a needle. A crafter threads one end of a strip of paper into the "eye" of the tool and then begins to turn the handle with one hand while the other hand guides the paper as it winds around and around into a tight coil. Rather than spend $10 on a quilling tool, you can easily make one yourself from a 6-inch length of dowel rod and a cotter pin.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/4-inch wooden dowel rod
  • 1 1/2-inch long cotter pin
  • Drill and bits
  • Epoxy glue
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Quilling paper

Cut a 6-inch length of a 3/4-inch wooden dowel rod. Use the sandpaper to smooth the outer surfaces as well as the ends and corners of the piece of dowel rod. Ensure the dowel rod is sanded smooth to avoid getting splinters in your hand.

Look at the cotter pin and select a similar size drill bit. Mark the center of one end of the dowel rod and drill a hole about 1/2-inch deep.

Place the bent end of the cotter pin into the hole in the dowel rod to ensure it fits snugly, then remove the cotter pin.

Put a drop of epoxy glue into the hole in the dowel rod and insert the bent end of the cotter pin into the hole. Ensure that no glue is on the cotter pin above the level of the end of the dowel rod. Use the glue sparingly to avoid getting any into the slot in the exposed part of the cotter pin. Wipe off any excess glue and allow the glue to dry thoroughly.

To use the tool, slip one end of a piece of quilling paper into the opening of the cotter pin and begin to turn the dowel rod with one hand while you guide the paper with the other. After the piece of paper has been completely rolled up around the cotter pin, slip the coil of paper up and off the top end of the cotter pin.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may paint the dowel rod, if you wish.
  • Keep the tool away from small children, as the cotter pin could be a potential hazard.
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