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Kathy Canfield Shepard

Paper Quilling

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What is Quilling?

Quilling, or paper filigree, is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, looped, curled, twisted, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The glue and sealer I use ensure that each piece is sturdy and protected from moisture and fading.

Materials: Paper strips (both pre-cut and custom-designed and cut with shredding scissors or X-acto knife), slotted tool (both manually operated and battery-operated, used for twirling the paper strips), scissors, tweezers, circle template (to make sure coiled strips are the same size), glue (I use Aleeene’s tacky or clear tacky glue, and squeeze it onto scrap paper and use a folded-out paper clip to apply it), sealer (I use Aleene’s acrylic matte sealer). All of my supplies are purchased online from several sources - craft stores typically don’t carry quilling supplies as there are so few of us quillers out there!

Items I Offer: Ornaments, Sculpture, Wall Art, Jewelry.

Custom Orders & Commissions: All of my pieces can be created using any colors, and I also accept commissions and suggestions for items I have not yet created. Recently I have begun doing pet/animal commissions, including two Rottweilers and an African Grey Parrot!

How Did I Start Quilling?

I first discovered quilling when I was around seven years old, and over the next few years created simple designs and ornaments for my family and friends. In recent years I’ve rediscovered the art form and have stretched the boundaries of traditional quilling techniques to create intricate three-dimensional works of art. Incorporating my skills as a graphic designer and watercolor artist, I often use my own surface pattern designs in my work. 

History of Quilling

Quilling got its name because the papers were originally wrapped around the quills of feathers. During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used the art form to decorate book covers and religious items. In the 18th century, quilling became popular in Europe and spread to the Americas where there are a few examples from Colonial times. Today, quilling is seeing a resurgence in popularity. The art form is always expanding due to innovators and a rapidly growing number of artists.


My Background

In addition to my art, I am also a professional French horn player. I freelanced in New York for over twenty years and was a regular member for eight years in the orchestra for Les Misérables on Broadway. Since we moved to the Bay Area in 2008, I have performed with a number of “Freeway Philharmonic” orchestras, including The Vallejo Symphony, Pacific Chamber Orchestra, Santa Rosa Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Oakland Symphony, and UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. I have degrees in horn performance from the University of Michigan and The Juilliard School in New York City.


I am also a graphic designer and have operated my own design business, Canfield Design Studios, since 2001.

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