Paper Quilling FAQ – how to choose between different paper densities (grammage) and how to cut your own paper quilling strips.
I have been thinking about writing a paper quilling FAQ for a while now and last week I finally decided it’s time to set my idea in motion. For this, I have compiled the questions I get most frequently asked and tried to answer them in detail and to the best of my abilities.
Disclaimer: I will talk mostly about my own style of quilling which is based on my personal preferences and what I found that works best for me throughout the years. There are no rules set in stone, so I encourage you to experiment and try different things!
1. What brand of paper do you use? How do you choose between all the available paper densities?
I don’t have a favorite brand and I usually buy any colored paper I can get my hands on. The main criteria when choosing my paper is plain and simple: its color. I still haven’t stumbled on a sheet of paper I haven’t been able to quill with!
I use anything from 80gsm, 120gsm and up to 160 gsm for paper quilling. With time, I ended up favoring certain paper density for different quilled elements. For example: 160gsm for full petals made with tight coils, 80gsm for small petals or small fringed flowers and so on.
For quillography (contour quilling) or paper graphics I use 120gsm, 160gsm and 220 gsm, depending on the size and complexity of the project. I have already discussed this technique in detail in this tutorial.
2. How do you cut your own paper strips?
This is probably the question I get most frequently asked! When I first started quilling, there were virtually no supplies for this craft in any of the stores in Romania. I had to do a lot of improvising and cutting my own paper strips was one of them. I got so used to it that, up to this day, I still cut them by hand. In this way, I can choose exactly the width I need for my projects, without being bound to any of the standard sizes. This is how I ended up using 2mm and 1.5mm wide paper strips.
And this is how you can cut yours!
You will need: a cutting mat, a metal ruler, a cutter or an x-acto knife and a pen.
Start by dividing your paper sheet into segments the size you need your paper strips to be. With the help of a pen, mark these intervals on both short edges of your paper. Let’s say you need 3mm wide paper strips. In this case, your marks should be 3mm apart.
Then you need to align your ruler to these marks and proceed by cutting your paper strips with a cutter or an x-acto knife. Press firmly on the ruler to hold it in place, so that the paper sheet can’t slip or move while you are doing the cutting. The key is to always use a very sharp blade, so make sure to replace yours often for optimal results. Depending on the density of the paper, you can try and cut 2-3 sheets of paper at a time.
One could make their life easier and use a manual shredder which can chop an entire A4 sheet of paper in no time. The thing to keep in mind when buying one of these machines is that you will be confined to whatever width they cut the paper strips, which is standard for every shredder and cannot be modified. One other disadvantage of these paper strips is that they have rough, dentate edges. Again, this comes down to personal preferences and I know a lot of quillers who use this type of paper strips with incredible results!
If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with 120gsm paper cut into wider strips, like 3mm or 5mm, and then work your way down if you like. In the end, it all comes down to personal taste, so give it a try and see what you feel most comfortable working with!
I hope this FAQ was helpful and maybe you learned something new! If you have other technical questions about paper quilling, don’t hesitate to write them down in a comment and I will do my best to answer them. Stay tuned for part two, where I will be talking about glue, how to make your own quilling tool and varnishes for waterproofing the quilled jewelery!
Thank you for your visit and happy quilling!