The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Last updated 14/3/2024


Quilling / Paper Filigree
This page is being used to collect information about the history of the paperfolding technique known as Quilling or Paper Filigree in which rolled and folded strips of paper are glued onto flat sheets of card or other objects in order to decorate them. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.



Part Five of 'Die Zehenmal Hundert und Eine Kunst' by Albrecht Ernst Friedrich von Crailsheim, which was published in 1762, contains a section titled (in translation) 'How to Make Baskets out of Rolled Paper' which seems to me to be a description of how to make a tetrahedral basket decorated by the Quilling /Paper Filigree technique.



The July 1786 issue of 'The New Lady's Magazine' contained a review of a book of Paper Filigree patterns.

The November 1786 issue contained a history of the art and two plates of patterns. It is worth noting that the patterns make more use of folds than contemporary quilling designs do.



The making of a paper filigree basket features in Jane Austen's novel 'Sense and Sensibility', first published, anonymously, in 1811.

"I am glad," said Lady Middleton to Lucy, "you are not going to finish poor little Annamaria's basket this evening; for I am sure it must hurt your eyes to work filigree by candlelight. And we will make the dear little love some amends for her disappointment to-morrow, and then I hope she will not much mind it."

This hint was enough, Lucy recollected herself instantly and replied, "Indeed you are very much mistaken, Lady Middleton; I am only waiting to know whether you can make your party without me, or I should have been at my filigree already. I would not disappoint the little angel for all the world: and if you want me at the card-table now, I am resolved to finish the basket after supper."

"You are very good, I hope it won't hurt your eyes—will you ring the bell for some working candles? My poor little girl would be sadly disappointed, I know, if the basket was not finished tomorrow, for though I told her it certainly would not, I am sure she depends upon having it done."

Lucy directly drew her work table near her and reseated herself with an alacrity and cheerfulness which seemed to infer that she could taste no greater delight than in making a filigree basket for a spoilt child.


"Perhaps," continued Elinor, "if I should happen to cut out, I may be of some use to Miss Lucy Steele, in rolling her papers for her; and there is so much still to be done to the basket, that it must be impossible I think for her labour singly, to finish it this evening. I should like the work exceedingly, if she would allow me a share in it."



'The Girl's Own Book' by Lydia Marie Child, which was published by Clark Austin and Co in New York in 1833, contains a section titled 'Paper-Ball Baskets' which describes the technique of quilling.



A dimilar paragraph on 'Paper Ball Baskets' appears in 'The Home Book for Very Little People' by J H Vincent, which was published by Phillips and Hunt in New York in 1887.