Paper Quilling in Japan - Motoko Nakatani

Motoko Nakatani is an avid quiller in Japan who loves teaching others. She and I first met at a convention of the North American Quilling Guild several years ago.

miniature quilled flower arrangementsMotoko's paper floral miniatures

Maggie, as she prefers to be called, was introduced to paper filigree while she owned a small toy and goody shop in Kobe. She liked the look of rolled paper so much, she taught herself and began importing quilling tools and paper from the United States and England to sell. After attending her first NAQG convention, Maggie was inspired to offer quilling classes in which she taught the techniques and ideas she'd gained from other NAQG members.

quilled chocolate assortmentquilled chocolates

Now she teaches beginner, intermediate, and accomplished classes ten days each month, and reports that interest in quilling in Japan continues to increase. Maggie is also the lead instructor for Botanical Quilling Japan, a group that expresses the seasonal beauty of plants and flowers.

quiller Motoko Nakatani

I'm grateful to have met her, not only because she's delightful, but because Maggie introduced me to my most favorite quilling tool. A little back history... my hands are sometimes bothered by a needle tool as I tend to grip it too tightly. I'd tried finger rolling, but that method didn't feel right either, and I wasn't happy with the large crimp that a traditional slotted tool produces. Quite honestly, I was thinking it was time to stop quilling. (Oh, the drama! My apologies.)

When I noticed Maggie rolling coils with a Japanese tool, I couldn't believe the incredibly tiny crimp it made. Luckily she had brought extras along in her suitcase and I purchased one on the spot.

slotted quilling tool with a very fine tip
The ultra-fine slot is set well down into the tool's handle, the ribbed area at the top provides a nice place for fingers to rest, and the white disc rotates smoothly on the palm as the tool is turned. It's a precision instrument, not an ordinary sewing needle with the eye's tip snapped off, which is what seems to define current U.S. fine-slotted tools.

quilled floral design

This is a close up of some quilling I did with the tool, using graduated color strips. Notice how teeny-tiny the marquise and tight coil centers are!

If you are an international customer and would like to buy the tool, you will find it in Etsy shop Quilling Maggie. If you're in Japan, order directly from Maggie's online store, Stripe.) The tool is not inexpensive, but I can vouch for the fact that it is superior to any I've used.

EDIT: As of May 2012, Maggie is now able to accept PayPal transactions. Contact her at By the way, I'd like to make it clear that Maggie did not ask me to blog about her or the tool. This post is strictly my idea and I receive no commission from sales.

One more thing... A regular slotted tool still comes in very handy when making folded roses and rolling fringed strips.

Make that two things... If you haven't left a comment yet to enter my First Blogiversary Giveaway, it's not too late - the contest ends at midnight tonight EST. Good luck!

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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