The quilling fields of creativity
Back then in eighteenth century Europe, it gave ladies of leisure something to do. Again during the Renaissance, priests and nuns used this art to decorate book covers and religious items. In recent years, it received a shot in the arm thanks to Yulia Brosskaya, a Russian who popularised the same and secondly due to digital technology. The art in question is quilling, a ‘paper filigree’ form of decorative art, which has suddenly become ubiquitous, think jewellery, greeting cards, boxes, wedding invites, bookmarks, photo frames and posters and is seeing a fascinating comeback. Three youngsters explore their passion for this art form that has been around for centuries.
One of Chennai’s patrons of quilling, Aishwarya Lakshminarayan, an analog design engineer, perfected her skills while doing her Master’s in Germany. Aishwarya turned her passion for art into a startup called Curls and Strips. She reminisces, “A friend introduced me to quilling, which is a popular art in Europe. I have always been artistically inclined; hence it caught my eye.” On relocating to India for work, the electronics engineer realised that quilling was relatively unknown in the country. “Since affordable and eco-friendly craft always has a good reception in Chennai, I decided to turn entrepreneur, with Curls and Strips,” she explains.
A regular in conducting online workshops is Pune-based Pritesh Ananth Krishnan. Pritesh, who also runs Aadya Originals, an arts and crafts studio, got into quilling “by chance”. She says, “My sister initiated me into the craft and I nearly gave it up because I did not have any tools and the result was poor. The best thing about the art is its versatility—one can create a wide range of things using just paper.” It was an unusual request to make a chess set and frog pond for a friend, which sparked off the career option. She reminisces, “After that, the requests kept flowing in!”
The enormous amount of patience required in the art led Bangalore-based Preeti Shenoy, a bestselling author (Life Is What You Make Of It, 34 Bubblegums and Candies, Tea For Two and a Piece of Cake) to take up quilling as a destresser. Capitalising on the current trend—quillography—Preeti, 41, mainly creates name boards and flowers with ball pins and slotted quilling tools. She admits that her first priority is writing books, “I sell personalised cards which are priced at `600 (inclusive of shipping). I have been flooded with over 15 orders a month, and had to refuse some orders to concentrate on writing.” Preeti also makes pencil portraits. Nature seems to be a prime source of inspiration for quilling enthusiasts. Pritesh muses, “She (nature) never seems to shy away from challenges. She adapts, improvises and goes on. I seek inspiration in every creation of hers.” Aishwarya feels the same way. Citing floral designs as her inspirations, she has created elaborate Ganeshas on plaques, desktop accessories and cute bookmarks. While bonafide tools make the twirling process easier and simpler, one can also use toothpicks and drill bits to create shapes like tear drops, triangles, circles and eye shapes. Pritesh, however, swears by the Panduro quilling tool, made by a Swedish company called Panduro Hobby. With over 20 amateur and professionals in India, Aishwarya sets herself apart by using a wooden base to enhance her quilling with calligraphy. She proudly states, “I wanted to break the monotony of book reading, and created attractive bookmarks,” and adds, with a hint of modesty, “I would say that it is my original (and quite famous) idea and am very happy that it has got a lot of takers.” Pritesh suggests we check out the very elaborate Venetian mask, her studio’s trademark, which took a month to make. Considering the widespread popularity of the art in recent years, we wonder if it is a short lived fad. The response is unanimous, ‘due to its scalability, it is definitely here to stay, and has a very wide scope’. With digital technology, the opportunity for expansion is vast.