Giving New Life to an Old Craft: Modern Paper Quilling Ideas

Everyone loves a good comeback story, and the craft world is no exception. Quilling, the art of rolling paper, first came on the scene in the 16th century and enjoyed a surge of popularity by children and adults alike in the 1970s and ’80s. Paper strips were rolled into incredibly realistic flowers and charming adornments for greeting cards.

Quilled lily mosaic

Like so many crafts of the past, however, quilling mostly faded away. Thankfully, a few dedicated quillers continued to share their skills and now a new wave of quillers are bringing a fresh set of eyes (and fingers) to what is often thought of as a dated craft.

But what exactly are these quillers making? Let’s explore a few of the more contemporary paper quilling ideas that have been attracting many new paper lovers to the craft.

Quilled jewelry

Quilled bracelet

Let’s Go Thataway Bracelet image via Little Circles

One place quilling is finding a new life is in jewelry or wearable art. Once you conquer the basic skills, it is quite easy and enjoyable to make. Relatively new tools allow quillers to create a variety of new shapes and endless possibilities for putting shapes together. Additionally, quilled jewelry has the benefit of being a bit more of an “instant gratification” type of project since you can easily complete many designs in just a couple of hours. 

quilled flower earrings

Image via Erin Curet

Some of the best results occur when you combine the techniques that have been around since the beginning of quilling with the new ones that are being introduced today.

quilled sunflower necklace

Quilled Sunflower Necklace Tutorial via Little Circles

Quilled art

On the opposite side of instant gratification comes the intensely time consuming quilled paper art. Commissioned works are seen in many of today’s most popular magazines, and paper artists are using paper quilling as their medium of choice to create spectacular works of art.

quilled on edge art

Image via Larisa Zasadnaja

On-edge quilling (image above) or quillography (image below) are two terms most often used when referring to this type of quilling. Using either card stock or multiple strips of quilling paper glued together, the paper is manipulated into the shape desired and then glued down on one side to give the illusion of 3-D illustration.

quillography art

Image via Anama Lily

Quilled mosaics are another example of using traditional quilling in a modern way. Using a wider quilling paper than has been used in the past, mosaic artists create in a way that can only be described as painting with paper. Using the basic quilled shapes, quillers manipulate and piece them together in a mosaic fashion. This work is incredibly time-consuming, but the payoff is big.

quilled mosaic portrait

Image via Erin Curet

quilled retro flower mosaic

Retro Flowers Quilled Paper Mosaic image via Little Circles

quilled waves mosaic

Image via Erin Curet

3-D quilling

Another way that quilling is changing this time around: It’s going upward and off the page. No longer must quilling be glued down and stationary, a tradition that really limits what can be accomplished. Newer quilling paper brands offer wider and heavier weighted paper than was typically available in the past, thus allowing quillers to create paper sculpture, useable and novelty items that would have been difficult to accomplish 30 years ago.

3d sculpture quilling example

Image via Erin Curet

The candle holder below was made using ¼”, ½” and 2″ paper strips and a stacked quilling form. These resources would have been very difficult to come by three decades ago. Not to mention the handy flameless candle that provides a lovely glow without burning down your house.

quilled candle holder

Image via Erin Curet

3d quilled television fish tank ornament

Image via Erin Curet

The ability to create whatever is in your mind’s eye has so many advantages. Creativity can really shine in endless ways. The little fish television set was eventually made into an ornament, and the little owl below would make an excellent keychain or zipper pull for your favorite wee one.

quilled owl pendant

Paper Quilled Owl Jewelry Tutorial image via Bluprint member Honey’s Quilling

Embellishment quilling

Not to be left behind, quilling is still an excellent way to embellish cards, scrapbooks, invitations, gift tags, picture frames and much more. These types of projects have been enjoyed by quillers since the start, but the availability of more color options and modern quilling tools have breathed new life into an old standard.

quilled mother's day card

Image via Sree Quilling

Combining classic technique, 3-D quilling and a sense of artistry, quillers are taking paper crafting to a whole new level.

3d quilled greeting card

Image via QuillingBG

And finally, this wedding invitation below was quilled in a very classic style using more traditional methods, but it still manages a very modern elegance. It just goes to show that some things never really go out of style!

quilled wedding invitation

Image via Ann Martin

Whatever your skill level, wherever your interest lies, quilling has a little something for everyone. Hopefully these bright and modern paper quilling ideas will spark a new interest for those of you who have yet to give the craft a try and ignite a spark of creativity anew for those who have.

FREE Guide: Paper Quilling Basics for Beginners

Paper Quilling for Beginners

Whether you’re making beautiful quilled designs for cards, shadowboxes or home decor, these simple steps will help make your paper projects look polished and professional.Get my FREE guide »

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5 Responses to “Giving New Life to an Old Craft: Modern Paper Quilling Ideas”
  1. Felicita Santos
    Felicita Santos

    Sorry, my iPad autocorrected me I wanted to say “sell it “ “not see it”

  2. Felicita Santos
    Felicita Santos

    My cousin Introduced me to quilling when I was convalescing from covid in April, and never looked back. I truly love it!!! I’ve made several projects that I gifted out to family and in particular was someone from Facebook watch saw one I gifted a family member. Who requested one to a family friend of theirs who passed. It was a child who loved the dinosaur blue from “ Jurraissic Park” and Jack the pumpkin head king” she presented it for his one year anniversary. That touched me so much and it made me feel that this Art can make such a beautiful difference in someone’s life and especially the one creating the Art. Now I want to continue to create but, I want it to look professional so I can see it. So thank you for offering the free guide. To be specific I would love to create Ann Martin’s project can I get more info. On that??


    I was so surprised when I found you had some quilling projects. It was never featured in your ads. Thanks