Quilled Vanilla Orchid (Vanilla Planifolia)

Quilled Vanilla Orchid with Real Vanilla Pods.

The project that I want to share today is one full of delicious fragrance and aroma: a quilled vanilla orchid to which I’ve attached real vanilla pods!

Quilled Vanilla Orchid in a Shadowbox Frame

Quilled Vanilla Orchid in a Shadowbox Frame

The Vanilla genus is part of the orchid family and consists of approximately 110 species. Of all these, the most widely known is the Vanilla Planifolia – the Flat-leaved Vanilla, or even shorter, plain Vanilla. Native to Central America and called tlilxochitl by the Aztecs, it was introduced to Hernan Cortes by Montezuma in 1520 and from there found its way to Europe. Today, it is cultivated and exported mainly from Madagascar, Reunion, Mexico and Indonesia.

Vanilla is a vine-like plant which uses fleshy roots to support itself as it grows. The flower has a diameter of 5-6 cm and a blooming life of just one day, from dawn until dusk.  In order to bear fruits, the flowers must be pollinated in the window between bloom and nightfall. If the process doesn’t take place, they will shrivel and drop off the plant, usually by the next morning.  It is estimated that in the wild, there is less than 1% chance that the flowers will be pollinated. When grown on farms, in order to secure a steady flow of fruits, each worker must manually pollinate around 1.000-2.000 flowers per day. After 5 months, the matured fruits in the form of green pods are harvested. They can be commercialized as such or cured to get a better market price. After the pods are dried, they are graded based on length, appearance and moisture content of the fruit. Because its production is so labor-intensive, vanilla is the second most expensive spice after the saffron.

Quilled Vanilla Orchid Flowers

Quilled Vanilla Orchid Flowers

The idea to make a vanilla flower came to me while I was eating chocolate with vanilla cream filling. 😀 Even though I’ve seen the flowers many times and have always liked the way they look, it never occurred to me to quill one. I guess chocolate works in mysterious ways and besides being delicious, it can also provide a good dose of inspiration when you least expect it!

Quilled Vanilla Orchid Flowers - Side View

Quilled Vanilla Orchid Flowers – Side View

Because I planned from the very beginning to use natural vanilla pods in my project, I had to get the size of the flowers and leaves as close as possible to the real ones. My quilled vanilla orchid flowers are made of 2mm wide hand-cut paper strips and measure 5.5cm in diameter and the leaves are approximately 11cm long. The inside of the frame is 18cm*24cm.  For the background I decided to go with a simple light blue watercolor wash. I can never find cardboard in the shades of color that I want, so I decided to make my own. After days of watching various tutorials on youtube, I finally summoned the courage to pick up a brush and managed to create a clear, blue sky. Weeee!

Quilled Vanilla Orchid - Side View

Quilled Vanilla Orchid – Side View

I also quilled an over-sized ant. Might as well call it a giant ant in an attempt to justify its size! 😀 I used 2mm wide paper strips for the body and 0.3mm wires covered in crepe paper for the legs.

Quilled Ant

Quilled Ant

I really hope you like my quilled vanilla orchid! Needless to say, my living room has been smelling insanely sweet of vanilla for days now! Yum-yum!

Thank you for your visit and happy quilling!





  1. avatar
    Pritesh says:

    Manu, you just outdid yourself in the best of the ways! Oh my goodness, that ANT! Whoa! Whoa! Loving it so much that vanilla orchids are taking a bit of a backseat! 😉 The leaves are amazing, as usual and that touch of vanilla pods makes it look like a branch I could pluck 🙂 Brilliant! Sheer brilliance shining through 🙂

    What else can one say, Keep Quilling Manu. You’re a gift to this world 🙂

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you, Pritesh! After everything was glued in place, I felt like something was missing and immediately thought I should add an insect. I wanted to try something new and I am glad it turned out ok. 🙂 Super happy that you like it! Hugs!

  2. avatar
    Anindita says:

    This is simply stunning! The ant is ingenius!!!! I admire the creativity and the way you translate all of that into a quilled creation! so much to learn from your work.

  3. avatar
    Otilia says:

    Amazing as always. Actually perfect as always. But now you added some cuteness with that ant. Thank you Manu for inspiring us. I am still waiting for the cherries frame :).

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you so much, Otilia! I finished the frame, but I kept postponing taking pictures because I promised I’ll also do a little tutorial for the cherries. Will do that today, so stay tuned! Hugs!

  4. avatar
    Pooja says:

    Very interesting idea to use actual vanilla pods !! Thanks a lot for the extra info..I watched a program on vanila cultivation n then came to know about its artificial pollination..n skill needed to do it…similar to the skill you posses to quill real flowers 😉

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you so much, Pooja! I didn’t know any of these interesting facts before I started to do my little research on the vanilla plant. Glad I learned something new and you enjoyed reading my post! Hugs!

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you so much, Suman! I am still very new at watercolors and I don’t feel like adventuring too far for now. I must confess I prefer your brave experiments in mixed media! 🙂

  5. avatar
    gracetoyetrick says:

    Hi Manuk, I just love your Orchid I just wish I could smell it from here, your Quilling is so exquisite and always done with perfection. Your ant is also really cute, now out weather is getting warmer our ants are getting ready to bombard our gardens brrrrr not too keen. Have a great day and thank you for sharing your exquisite work of art. hugs Sheila

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you so much, Sheila! Always a pleasure to have you on my blog and read your comments! Hehe, my ant is well-behaved and stays only where I put her. 😀
      Wishing you a wonderful week! Hugs!

  6. avatar
    marimar1515 says:

    Sunt absolut superbe toate lucrarile tale! Felicitari pentru acest blog si pentru ca-ti impartasesti cunostintele si operele de arta cu noi, cu toti. Cred ca acest site a devenit unul de referinta pentru iubitorii quilling-ului. Mult spor si inspiratie mai departe!

  7. avatar
    Bianca says:

    Foarte frumoasa lucrarea, cu flori delicate si frunze perfecte, de zici ca sunt adevarate ! Furnicuta e ceva nou :o), e tare simpatica :o) Numai bine, Manuela si Hristos a inviat !

  8. avatar
    Cecelia Louie says:

    Manu, I was on the cruise and had problems submitting my comment, but I was bursting to say how amazing this was! I had no idea the vanilla bean is part of the orchid family and I wish I were right there to smell your room! The subtle coloring of the blossoms gives it that superb look of realism and my husband laughed out loud when he saw the ant. Wonderfully done!

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you so much, Cecelia! I always do a little bit of reading before I start quilling a flower and every single time I learn something new. Then, when I start writing the text for my post, I can’t help but share all the info with my readers! 🙂 As for the ant, I wanted to try and make a new insect, something tiny and uncomplicated. I wasn’t sure at first, but now I am glad I quilled it because it seems that everyone liked it very much! And I thought that the real vanilla pods will steal the show… Hihi!

  9. avatar
    pavithra says:

    i saw ur blog today.. love each and every piece of quilling u made… wanna say one thing in my language ” aap ke haath mein Jaadhu hai” (u’ve Magic in ur hands).. Keep inspiring and inspired… Am new to quilling.. still didn’t get the confidence to start a full pledged quilling…

    • avatar
      ManuK says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Pavithra! It is so easy once you get the hang of it! And for that you only need a short amount of time to learn how to roll the paper strips and make your coils look neat. So give it a go and then come back to share pictures with your work!

      Happy Quilling!

  10. avatar
    vushastri says:

    This is truely beautiful. Could you let us know how you do the leaves and the centre of the flower please. The centre does not appear to be quilled : is it cut from the paper?

  11. avatar
    Kris says:

    Manu, every time I go on Pinterest my eye is immediately drawn to your exquisite work. I can only hope some day to be able to do such beautiful quilling.

Leave a Reply to ManuK Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.