Quilled Paper Art by Christine Donehue

Amazing isn't a word I use lightly, but the quilling of Australia's Christine Donehue certainly fits that description. Earlier this month her work captured two prizes at Sydney's Royal Easter Show.
 Featured quilling artist Christine Donehue via All Things Paper
This breathtaking paisley design placed first in the greeting card category... surely it qualifies as the most detailed quilling ever on a handmade card!

Featured quilling artist Christine Donehue via All Things Paper

And her handsome, perfectly shaped vase took third prize in the 'any quilled object' class.

I thought all of you who share my interest in paper filigree would enjoy an interview with Christine.

How did you discover quilling and what was your first project?

In 2006 I was involved in a local event and volunteered to make individual gift cards to be given out to each participant. When I ran out of ideas, I started researching online and in library books. I saw some simple quilling which looked interesting and bought a starter kit with mixed papers and a tool. Using pictures and instructions to teach myself at home, the first designs I tried were mostly simple flowers.

So quilling was something that grabbed your attention and you just had to try it? 

Quilling was immediately appealing because of the striking effect achieved and the simplicity of using strips of paper and a simple tool; also because it didn’t require a huge outlay in materials and time. I was delighted by the way it came to life and captured my imagination. The use of colour, texture, and techniques in quilling can have stunning effects and it's hard to have a complete disaster.

Featured quilling artist Christine Donehue via All Things PaperBoatSydney Royal Easter Show 2008
First prize in Unframed Pictures (Novice Section)
Standard of Excellence Award, chosen from quilling exhibits in all classes

How do you decide what to quill? In other words, what inspires you?

I might look at pictures of the subject I would like to quill. For example, with the vase, I wanted to do something in the shape of an urn or vase. I looked at pictures of Roman, Greek and Egyptian vases for design ideas and found a vase in the laundry cupboard that I used as a mould. Just looking at pictures of quilling can inspire me, either contemporary or antique. It reminds me how nice it is.

Silver filigree, sewing, needlecraft designs, textile designs, jewellery, motifs, plants in the garden, birds - just about anything can be an inspiration for a quilling design. Feeling inspired is easy, but interpreting it into the quilling pattern is challenging. If I can’t think of what to make, I just roll shapes and make something with them later, or make something in colours that I wouldn’t usually use.

Sharing with other quillers is great fun because the enthusiasm is doubled and you get new ideas. I have entered a few pieces in shows and a deadline is a great motivator!

What is your favorite subject matter?

At the moment I like abstract or stylised designs rather than realistic things, and combining a variety of techniques and textures that compliment one another. I find designs appealing when there are multiple layers or dimensions to them. I like mandalas too.

Featured quilling artist Christine Donehue via All Things PaperMandalaBrisbane Show 2009 First Prize
Perth Show 2009 Second Prize

Do you prefer to do framed pieces, cards, or something else?

Mostly I have made quilled cards for friends and family. They're good because you can try new ideas and come up with a finished product quickly. Cards are also a way to give someone a special personal gift which they usually appreciate very much. If liked, the ideas can be expanded to larger pieces.

Framed pieces are very satisfying because they can include more elements (techniques, colours, textures, etc). It takes so many hours though, that I have only done a few of those so far. I like the huge flexibility of designs that can be created and the three dimensional effect. I haven’t tried many ‘objects’ yet (but have lots of ideas…)

What papers do you prefer to work with? Do you use pre-cut strips?

Pre-cut strips. They're easiest, neat, and the time can be spent quilling rather than preparing the strips. Local suppliers here offer a wide range of papers and I have also bought some papers online. Mostly I use 3mm and 1.5mm widths. 3mm paper is good because you can quill a fairly detailed design, but it is not too fine to handle. For the quilled vase, I had the aim to experiment with using different widths together, so it includes 9mm, 6mm, 3mm, and 1.5mm. Mostly I use plain colours, but have experimented a little with metallic, gilded, parchment, and graduated papers. I would like to master using each width and type of paper most effectively.

What are your favorite tools?
I’m still experimenting, but use a needle tool mostly. I started out using a sewing pin when doing finer work, but have since found a fine needle tool which is much easier to handle. I’ve tried using my fingers with some success. Sometimes I use a slotted tool because it is easy to hold; I might use that where the centres won’t be seen or in shapes that don’t need a small centre. I bought a little crimper which has been really fun to use. Crimping adds another texture to a piece and especially in a 3-d piece, it enables the paper to curve laterally, effectively giving an extra dimension to work with. One ‘tool’ I am learning about is to have more patience; it’s very helpful as quilling is not something you can rush.

Featured quilling artist Christine Donehue via All Things Paper 
What is your artistic background? Have you been a lifelong creator?
Yes, I’ve always loved to make things and from childhood learned handcrafts like sewing, knitting, crocheting, spinning wool, etc. In that respect I was very fortunate. I also like collage, using mixed mediums and recycling materials for cards and pictures. It is all as a hobby though, I’m not a professional artist or anything like that.

Christine, there's no doubt in my mind that your work falls into the artist category! Thanks so much for sharing your quilling thoughts and pictures with us.

Christine can be reached at cfdonehue at gmail dot com

Don't forget! The giveaway for a gift certificate to spend on anything your heart desires at CustomQuilling.com is still going on. Enter here.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

This is a short biography of the post author and you can replace it with your own biography.


  1. oh waouh! these are real pieces of art!

  2. I am speechless with admiration! Christine's work is utterly inspiring! Thanks for including the interview, because it's always so fascinating to 'get to know' the person behind the art.

  3. Congratulations Christine on the great interview. I never tire of seeing your marvellous quilling, you are an inspiration! Every piece of your quilling is an art piece!
    Licia, fellow aussie.

  4. I've never seen anything like that vase before. Really gorgeous stuff.

  5. Fantastic! Her work is stunning. Thank you so much for sharing, Ann!

  6. That's the sound of my jaw hitting the floor. These designs are fabulous. Thanks, Ann, for the interview!

  7. Oh wow. These are gorgeous!!

    Really, really beautiful!

  8. I was delighted with the work of the Christine, it is a great artist and his art quilling,is beautiful, wonderful, loved..
    thank you for sharing such an amazing art

  9. Those are so beautiful. I love how her pieces have a modern yet antique feeling about them all at the same time.

    And the detail is just jaw dropping!

  10. I am in awe of her work. That vase is spectacular.

  11. Ann!!! Thank you so much for give us the chance to see Christine´s quilling art. Her work is absolutely STUNNING!!! a real piece of art. They let us want to see more and more!!!
    Have a wonderful week end!

  12. Thanks for sharing
    Amazing designs - wonderful for others to see and delight in
    Well done Chris
    Such beauty you have created
    best wishes

  13. outstanding!!! The mandala looks perfect.Thanks for sharing. Christine's work is an inspiration.

  14. Olá, amiga!
    Conheci seu cantinho e amei!...
    Lindo, criativo e agradável.
    Seus trabalhos são muito elaborados.
    Feliz dia do trabalho!!!
    Hoje é só descanso!...
    Bom fim de semana!
    Beijinhos carinhosos.
    Itabira - Brasil.

  15. Hey Christine, Beautiful Beautiful works of Art. Lovely to read about your inspirations. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Incredible - just when you think you have seen it all in quilling we see a beautiful range of things from this artist

  17. Oh Wow!!! Does Christine have a website or a blog? I would love to see some more of her work. Michelle

  18. Thanks for your enthusiastic comments, everyone. I had a feeling you all would love seeing Christine's quilling! Michelle, she doesn't have a website or blog.

  19. wow! that vase is incredible! All of it is such beautiful work!!

  20. I absolutely love that paisley and I cannot believe it was on a card, that means it was not too big; just amazing. Her attention to detail is fabulous. Love her and I wish she did have a website or blog, maybe in the future.

    Thanks for sharing, you have great articles on your blog.


  21. Christine's work is BEAUTIFUL

  22. Wow. Just wow. This blows my mind. The precision! The color! Wow.

  23. Ann...Thanks so much for showing Christine's work.. it's fabulous.. wow.. the detail is amazing..

  24. Hey Christine Beautiful work, well done. FromJulie

  25. Hello. I would like to say a very big thank you to Ann for the opportunity to share my quilling via her blog, and to everyone who has posted a comment. Each one is very much appreciated. Christine

  26. Thank you for sharing this most incredible and stunning art. She should be creating wall canvasses and preserving them in shadow boxes. Truly works of art - and quilling at it's highest order.

  27. stunning..

  28. Wow
    Fantastic art
    I too am into quilling n it is very addictive
    The way the vase has been done is mind boggling

  29. What is the size of the flower vase and how did you go about getting the shape

    1. I recommend asking Christine directly via email (her address is shown at the end of the post) as this feature was written so long ago, it's doubtful she checks in to see if there are new comments.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I try to respond to questions within 24 hours, so please check back.