From an outside perspective, Vanessa Rasor is an artist, though she might only consider herself ‘crafty’. When she’s not hard at work as a Senior Administrator of Digital Operations in Bend, Oregon, you can typically find Vanessa hard at work on one of her artistic ventures. No, it’s not painting. It’s not pottery. It’s probably not any form of art you’re thinking of right now. Vanessa is a paper quilling artist. And if you don’t know what paper quilling (quilling) is, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
“Paper quilling is the art of rolling, pinching, and positioning thin strips of paper into different shapes, then gluing the shapes together to create a larger piece of art. The standard size of quilling paper is one-eighth of an inch thick; though, some folks like to use one-quarter of an inch strips for large pieces of work,” Vanessa said.
A medieval art form, quilling is a hobby that takes as much creativity as it does patience and dedication. A recent resurgence of popularity has brought the technique to the 21st century, with Pinterest boards and YouTube channels dedicated to creating the elaborate, paper images. In fact, Pinterest is precisely how Rasor discovered quilling.
“I love making homemade cards and while looking through Pinterest boards for inspiration, I ‘accidentally’ found myself gawking at these beautiful pieces of art made from tiny strips of paper,” Vanessa said. But compared to making cards, quilling is a whole new level of craftiness.
Each piece of paper has to be cut and hand-spun around a small rod–typically something like a sewing needle or toothpick–before it can be glued down onto the rest of the project using a tweezers. For this reason, projects can take hours. Luckily a battery-powered spinner exists, which has reduced the time she spends rolling paper—by about 75 percent. Even so, Vanessa said she will occasionally still choose to hand-spin some of her works, like her most recent project: An image of a sugar skull made for a friend.
“The time itself really depends on the detail. With the sugar skull, I could have opted out of the little details and cut out about 8-10 hours of work, but I really wanted the piece to look compact,” Rasor said. “That piece –albeit larger than my personal average – took about 80 hours to complete, mostly because over half of it was hand-spun.”
They say patience is a virtue, and if that’s the case then Vanessa must have an abundance of it. One look at her work and you can see she is incredibly talented. With so much creative leeway quite literally at her fingertips, Rasor said it’s her family that inspires her work. As big fans of the Marvel Comic Universe and Star Wars, Vanessa’s next family-inspired projects are going to be Thor’s hammer, Darth Vader’s helmet, and maybe even a mixed, Batman-Joker head!