The Art of Paper Filigree

Quilling is an art form using strips of paper rolled, shaped or twirled into various shapes and glued at the ends. Many of these shapes are then arranged to form ornamental artwork on cards as stand-alone sculptures, wall art and more. Like many creative pursuits, it’s limited only by your imagination. Christine Donehue is a very talented, award-winning quilling artist living in Sydney, Australia. We were thrilled to be able to chat to her about her quilling beginnings, challenges and rewards and share this with you along with some of her prize winning work here.

by Mindy Cook

This plate is approx 28cm diameter, base used approx 10 pks white 3mm, 3 blues were mainly made from 3mm, 1.5mm and half 1.5mm!


UPDATE: Christine’s gorgeous Pink Paisley (featured in this article) was selected to appear on our recent Into Craft promotional DL flyer.

How did you get started in quilling – what inspired you?

I saw some pictures of quilling online. It looked interesting and I made some greeting cards. It seemed easy to make something very nice out of simple and inexpensive materials. The quilling seemed to ‘come to life’ as the pieces were glued together. Sometimes I would close my eyes and see designs and scrolls, or they would come into my dreams. The beauty, simplicity and versatility of it really appealed to me.

Flower Sampler – one of my first framed pieces inspired by an embroidery design
Christine Donehue

Did you attend classes or just learn through experimentation and practice?

After a few months of experimenting by myself I went along to a quilling group in Sydney which meets four times a year. I didn’t attend classes but saw some demonstrations and since then have exchanged many ideas and tips. I’ve met a lot of generous people who are happy to share their skills and encourage each other.

Crimson Rosella Card – Australian birds are so beautiful
Stork Card made with very narrow paper 1.5mm cut in half

What advice do you have for novice quillers?

An easy way to start would be to buy a packet of quilling paper in mixed colours, 3mm or 6mm width; or there are some good starter kits available that include paper quilling strips, card, a tool, patterns and instructions. Often the papers will come in 30cm lengths and you can roll the whole strip or tear or cut it into the length required. Some of the patterns might be flowers or little animals. Then you just need some PVA craft glue and scissors. A slotted tool is good to start with as it holds the end of the paper while you roll it around the tool. Once you have confidence you can try other tools, such as a needle tool, or use your fingers to roll the paper.
Roll the basic shapes several times each – e.g. tight roll, loose roll, teardrop, scroll, until you get the feel of it.
Attend a group, a class, or quill with friends as it a lot of fun and you can learn quickly. If there are no groups near you, there are plenty of online resources and inspirations such as facebook groups, forums, photos etc.

Lavender in Pot
White Medallion card
Fantasy Flower Card – this was from a wallpaper design
Mandala – an early wall hanging

What has been your most challenging piece of quilling art to date?

One or two of the first wall hangings were quite hard because I didn’t have confidence, skills or experience to know easier ways to do things; or what techniques would be suitable for which pieces. I made a picture of a boat in 1.5mm paper. It involved a lot of detail and different techniques, many of which I was using for the first time. I rolled some of the pieces on a sewing pin, hard to hold as you can imagine. I was putting quilled pieces directly on top of the pattern page to glue them together, which made a mess as pieces of the pattern became glued to the quilling (now I use a piece of clear plastic over the pattern pinned onto a corkboard). I didn’t know if I was on the right track but the finished result was very satisfying.

Angel made on a foam cone shape – I wanted to use a variety of quilling techniques to convey lightness & sweetness
Colourful paisley

What do you like to work on most and why?

Greeting cards are a great way to make a small project or experiment with different themes, styles, techniques or colours – and a great way to share quilling with friends and family. I also like to make wall hangings or pictures as they are more substantial. Usually I do quilling quietly on my own and it is quite meditative. I like traditional patterns and ‘patterns within patterns’. Each project is a learning experience and I like to try things that will open my thinking. Abstract designs are also fun because there aren’t any rules.

Plate with Knife and Fork

The plate with knife and fork is one of my favourites. I had the idea for a couple of years and it took about 3 months to make. The plate is one large roll made of approximately 10 packets of white paper (1.5km). The blue design was worked on top of that, starting in the middle. The outline shapes and flowers in the middle section hold the base firmly in shape. The outer border took as long to make as the middle. The knife and fork were an afterthought to add a bit of quirk and fun and give the plate context. It is now on display in a dining room.

Pink paisley

Christine occasionally gives quilling demonstrations and informal workshops. Please contact her with any relevant enquiries.

To see more of her inspiring work visit her facebook page.

After a comprehensive selection process of artwork imagery that has featured in IntoCraft articles over recent years, our team chose Christine’s Pink Paisley  to feature on the new look IntoCraft promotional flyer.

The Scrapbook & Papercraft Expo in Brisbane has demonstrations, classes and products for a huge variety of papercraft techniques. It’s on over the June long weekend!


Flower sampler – this was one of my first framed pieces of quilling inspired by an embroidery design.

Mandala – this was also an early wall hanging

2009 Sydney Easter Show: ‘Quilled Wall Hanging’ – Second prize


Stork card – this was made with very narrow paper, 1.5mm cut in half.

2012 Perth Show: ‘Greeting Card’ – First prize

2012 Canberra Show: ‘Papercraft, Cards’ – First prize

2012 Sydney Easter Show: ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – Highly Commended


Fantasy flower card – this was from a wallpaper design.

2010 Penrith Show: ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – First prize

2011 Canberra Show: ‘Papercraft, Card’ – First prize and Section Champion for Papercraft
2011 Sydney Easter Show: ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – First prize

2011 Brisbane Show (Ekka): ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – First prize


Crimson Rosella card – Australian birds are so beautiful and this is one of a set of four different birds.

2012 Canberra Show: ‘Papercraft, 3 Cards as a set’ – First prize (three birds) and Reserve Champion for Papercraft.

2012 Melbourne Show: ‘Set of Cards’ – First prize (four birds)


Plate with knife and fork

2011 Sydney Easter Show: ‘Quilled Wall Hanging’ – First prize

2012 Canberra Show: ‘Quilling’ – First prize, Section Champion for Papercraft and Highly Commended (third place) for all Crafts in Canberra Show


Shoe – Melbourne Show (RASV) had a competition class where entrants were required to decorate a shoe or boot with any type of decoration. This was really fun using a mixture of old jewellery and quilling.

2010 Melbourne Show ‘Shoe or Boot Art’ – First prize


Angel – made on a foam cone shape, the idea with this angel was to use a variety of quilling techniques and convey lightness and sweetness.

2012 Brisbane Show: ‘Any Quilled Object’ – First prize

2012 Melbourne Show: ‘Christmas Decoration’ – First prize and Best Exhibit in Miscellaneous Crafts

2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show: ‘Any Quilled Object’ – First prize and Showcase of Excellence award.


White medallion card – there are many different shades of ‘white’ and I was interested to see how they would look together.

2012 Brisbane Show: ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – First prize

2012 Melbourne Show: ‘Greeting Card’ – First prize
2013 Sydney Easter Show: ‘Quilled Greeting Card’ – Third prize




Photo Credits: Mandala & Colourful Paisley photographed by Licia Politis.

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6 thoughts on “The Art of Paper Filigree”

  1. Christine’s work is just amazing! Thank you for putting her in your Newsletter so we all can see what wonderful things she has done.

  2. I am lucky enough to be related to Christine, and myself and our sisters and mum have all received cards from Chris, on our birthdays and Christmas. We absolutely love them, and keep and display them, and are always excited to show each other these wonderful artistic gifts of her cards, that turn up for us in the mail! We have also received beautiful keyrings with quilled work in them. We feel very honoured that she puts in the care and love and work to make these for us, simply as gifts!.

    Chris was always very talented as a young person, in many crafts (as well as fixing cars and furniture! lol). Her focus and patience and ability to enjoy the simple things in life, have led to this wonderful success and blossoming of her skills. Chris, you make so many people happy and I and all your family are so proud of you!!

  3. Christine’s work is so beautilful.
    I am looking for people in WA (or further affield) who may be interested in some quilling resources. My late mother was a keen quiller and I have lots of books, papers and tools etc looking for a new home/s but can’t seem to find anyone who quills or is interested. I would love to find some quillers.

    1. what a great idea Heather. If there’s anyone who is interested in talking to Heather please respond here in the comments field – sounds like a great opportunity!

    2. Did you ever find anyone interested in your mother’s willing supplies? If not, then I’m very interested. I have been willing for several years. I absolutely love it and am always looking for different resources to learn new ideas. Thank you – Jodi

  4. Does anyone know of a quilling group or class in the Yarra City area of Melbourne? I would love to join a group that meets regularly to learn and practise quilling. I am in Clifton Hill and would prefer a group that meets in the daytime.


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