Quirky quilling

Artist: Sarah Yakawonis Some people create hearts and others create hearts, anatomically realistic hearts that is. Sarah Yakawonis loves all things paper and her chosen art form is quilling. She has created an incredible array of works informed by anatomy. Spectacular. What is quilling? Quilling is the art of wrapping small strips of paper into various arabesque forms and attaching them together to create designs and shapes.  Craft: the web site offers a tutorial and historical information on the subject. An extract follows:

Quilling, the coiling and shaping of narrow paper strips to create a design, has been around for years — hundreds, in fact. During the Renaissance, nuns and monks would roll gold-gilded paper remnants trimmed during the bookmaking process, and use them to decorate religious objects as an alternative to costly gold filigree. Quilling later became a pastime of 18th and 19th century young ladies in England, who would decorate tea caddies and pieces of furniture with paper filigree. The practice crossed the Atlantic with colonists, who added quilling to candle sconces and trays as home decorations.  In all of that time, the process has remained very much the same, but quilling designs and specialty supplies have definitely caught up to the 21st century. Today some aficionados focus on making incredibly detailed 3-D figures, while others favor wall-sized museum installations. Perhaps quilling is best known, though, as a way of bringing personality to handmade cards.

I’ve never used quilling in art therapy because I never practiced the art myself.  It is a labor intensive, repetitive process that does not fit well in time limited sessions. The coiling,  tightening and gluing of dozens if not hundreds of paper strips is for me a metaphor for  ‘tension’ and perhaps even anxiety. The physical symptoms of anxiety  include  « a state of restlessness and agitation, often accompanied by a distressing sense of oppression or tightness in the stomach. » These are often accompanied by compulsive behaviors. I am not saying that artists who enjoy quilling are anxious, art forms are made and enjoyed for a number of reasons. However there is an analogy to be made between the repetitive process involved in making and the end product of quilling (tight coils) that echoes anxious symptoms and this is a language we art therapists are sensitive to. It is always risky to describe artistic choices and process in pathological terms, it is  however the map that informs us. But one must know that these visual maps are  never read independantly from other corroborating factors in the life of the person. Just like a proper research process, analogies like the one I am suggesting are triangulated, which means they are checked against other clues: Is the person showing other signs of tension, fears, compulsions?   

I can also surmise that quilling could serve to ‘bind’ anxious symptoms, just like any repetitive activity that is soothing and calming such as knitting. In art therapy I would eventually want to help an anxious client ’unwind’ and relax by gradually moving towards more free flowing and malleable mediums such as paint and clay. The reverse is also true where at times a process such as quilling could help clients who lack structure move through a process that requires organising, planning and focus.

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Catégorisé dans Arts, Thérapie, santé mentale.

Publié le 04 fév 2011

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2 commentaires à Quirky quilling

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Quirky quilling | Les Arts Santé -- Topsy.com

  2. Christine
    Le 15 fév 2011 à 16:04

    Hi Francine,
    Read thìs article on quilling and think it`s food for thought.
    As someone working on clutter and who is a paper fanatic AND has never heard of quilling (though I think I might have a pair of Quilled earrings) I was immediately thinking to myself, « Say, this could be a fun way to play creatively with my paper clutter! » And was encouraged further by your closing comment that « quilling could help clients who lack structure move through a process that requires organising, planning and focus. »
    May give it a try…
    Thanks for this. As art is a way of allowing energy to flow through us (from materials through us and out to art work) I appreciate your ideas about how the technique might reflect the way we transform/shape/direct that energy.
    Off to the clutter,