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A simple and little-known paper art technique 

By Stanley Lam

Origami and paper cutting are popular in Hong Kong but there is another type of paper art that is less well-known – paper quilling.

The delicate artwork is created through rolling, looping, curling or twisting paper strips 3mm to 10mm wide. The coils are then pinched into specific shapes and glued together to form pictures or even 3-D models.

The technique was first used during the Renaissance by European monks and nuns to decorate religious items. It was later used to decorate pictures, boxes and jewellery. Although it only requires simple materials and tools to create a wide variety of artwork, paper quilling is less popular compared with other traditional paper art forms, says local quilling teacher Clare Wong Oi-lam. Relatively few books about the art form have been published around the world.

A local quilling teacher Clare Wong Oi-lam

“It was only after 2013 when Harbour City hosted a paper quilling exhibition showing artwork by the Russian graphic designer Yulia Brodskaya that people started to notice it in Hong Kong,” says Wong, who has taught paper quilling for nine years. She remains fascinated by the art. “I have to do something related to paper quilling every day, either teaching or creating my own art piece,” she says.

Wong explains that paper quilling can be a very creative art form. Artists can come up with new designs by playing around with the composition of the picture, the use of colours and textures, and different coiling techniques.

Wong also loves the art because it is affordable for most people. The essential tools, such as stamp tongs, scissors and glue, can be easily bought. The one item that is the hardest to find is the quilling pen, which is used to coil paper. It can only be found in Chung Nam Bookstore in Yau Ma Tei, says Wong, and costs HK$35.

“Paper quilling is very easy to learn and is suitable for people of all ages, although smaller kids might find it difficult as they cannot move their fingers flexibly,” says Wong.

With its low cost and level of difficulty, paper quilling art could be the perfect Christmas gift

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Edited by Tiffany Tsim