Friday, January 31, 2014

Pleated Origami - Rebecca Gieseking

I was delighted to meet Rebecca Gieseking via Flickr... the origami objects she creates are sculptural fine art.


Rebecca admits she isn't an origami purist... To me, creating an interesting form is more important than following the traditional “rules" of origami. All of my designs are constructed from one uncut piece of paper, and the shape is created primarily by a combination of straight and curved folds. Most of my designs use glue to hold the paper in place.

Blue and Silver Series

She is inspired by ceramics, wood, and glass, and frequently starts with rectangles, circles, or regular polygons of paper. Rebecca often paints the paper with acrylics first and employs the wet-folding technique to create each piece. I think it's safe to say she is taking origami to new heights!

Double Diagonal Shift Vase

Rebecca majored in art and chemistry in college. Although she began her studies thinking of the two fields as being completely separate, she discovered connections between them.

Painted Vase

The visual and creative training I received in art helped me in chemistry, particularly as I started doing research. In addition, my art became highly planned, logical, and organized, reflecting my scientific thought process. Although I focused on painting, origami was a recurring theme in my work.

 Pot with Wavy Line Pattern

I see origami as lying at the intersection of art and science. This combination is what continually draws me back to the art of paper folding.

 Vase with a Torn Edge

Remember, Rebecca folds each example with just one piece of paper - remarkable!

 Diagonal Shift Variant Vase

As recently as 2011, Rebecca began designing elegant origami bowls, vases, and ornaments that contrast precise folds with graceful shapes. Curious to know how she does it? You're in luck! Rebecca shares patterns and tips for creating crease pleated objects here.


Her art is for sale in Georgia, U.S. venues, including the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum in Atlanta. Additional locations can be found on her website, as well as a contact link to inquire about a specific piece or to commission one.

Painted Vases

Another week has flown by and so it's time once again to wish you a great weekend. I'll see you back here on Monday... I'm already excited about the post that's in the works. People are so creative!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pretty Valentines to Make & Give

What I like about Valentine's Day is that it isn't just for lovebirds... it's fun to remember family and friends with a card and perhaps a little treat. I've gathered some of my favorite ideas to kick start a crafting session.


Vicki Smith of the blog Art with Kids shows how to make easy stenciled Valentines as a kid-friendly printmaking project.


Wrap up special candies or cookies and top the package with this cute Be Mine printable tag from Jenny Steffens Hobick of Everyday Occasions.


Rita of EasyPaperCrafts designed this stylish printable Zentangle heart.


Perhaps you have a daughter/son or granddaughter/grandson who loves to make friendship bracelets. Danyelle of Dandee Designs shows a great way to gift them to classmates.


I'd never thought about covering cardstock with fabric, but these homespun cards from Suzonne Stirling of Urban Comfort are lovely. 


The chalkboard look continues to reign supreme... I love these hand drawn printables from Hannah of We Lived Happily Ever After.


Yesterday I hunted down my origami paper stash for a little folding session... I had seen mini-pinwheel envelopes on A Spoonful of Sugar and just had to make some. A video always seems to help more than diagrams when it comes to origami and me. Next, I was determined to give Heather's little folded hearts that I shared last week a try too... find the how-to video here. Success on both counts!


Last, but not least... Secret Garden Postcards illustrated by Johanna Basford arrived yesterday from Laurence King Publishing. (sometimes publishers send me new releases; if I think they're a good fit on the blog I feature them) Twenty tear-out postcards - each with a different, intricate design - can be sent as is or get out your colored pencils, markers, inks/embossing powders and have some fun.


The collection is a sequel to last year's very popular Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book. A new trend was born - the adult coloring book! I remember crayoning with my boys when they were little and would have enjoyed having pictures like these to work on alongside them. It's a classy little book... sure to be a nice Valentine's Day gift for an arty friend or an older child who loves to doodle and color.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Steampunk Valentine from MechaniCards

Bradley Litwin of Philadelphia is the inventor of hand-operated kinetic sculptures called MechaniCards. Brad wrote to ask if I thought readers would be interested in learning how he makes these unique cards. Valentine's Day is approaching; good timing!


I hope you'll enjoy seeing a bit of the behind the scenes operation that takes place in the workshop of this interesting and self-taught engineer, artist, and musician.

The Making of a Steampunk Valentine

Brad's first step is to create an illustration that he prints on adhesive paper and adheres to high-density paperboard.


The first few MechaniCards prototypes were cut by hand with a #11 razor knife, including the gears. Now he uses a computer-controlled, high precision, CO2 laser cutter/engraver.


Including the rivets, crank, and corrugated mailer or wooden display box, this Valentine model has 48 parts that are assembled in a reliable, repeatable way.


Where slot and tab assembly isn’t practical, custom gluing jigs are made to accommodate precise parts placement. Design of these can be a challenge due to irregularly shaped parts. All of the glued assemblies are put together with high viscosity cyanoacrylate.


The transparent graphic panes are laser-printed polyester, ordinarily used for overhead projection slides. Aluminum rivets provide the pivot for linked and rotating parts. A custom-made pressing tool flares the end of the rivet just enough to secure the paperboard part without crushing it or permanently binding the two parts.


Forgive me... I've made the executive decision to skip ahead many steps to the happy ending where one gear smoothly turns another and another - a hand crank is rotated, the panes cross, and a Be Mine message appears. Sweet!


Brad signs and numbers each card, glues it to either a wooden display box or corrugated mailer, includes simple operating instructions, and sends it on the way to a special someone.

Enjoy seeing the Valentine in action and find a variety of card designs at MechaniCards. Learn more about Brad at Kinetic Works.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Valentine's Day Paper Crafts from Giochi di Carta

Pretty pictures ahead! Silvia Raga and I met via Facebook and I knew the moment I spotted these photographs that I would introduce her lovely work here on the blog.


Silvia grew up in Milan, Italy where she studied illustration and graphic design.


She married, moved to Rome, and worked as a professional illustrator for a decade before relocating to an Italian seaside town to raise her young family.


Silvia is drawn to paper crafting - she creates exquisite paper cuttings by hand and designs projects to teach in workshops.



As a graphic designer, Silvia creates custom invitations, birth announcements, and cards, as well as dimensional items for home decor and parties.



Gift wrapping is another one of her talents. Each idea looks so fresh!


Silvia shares snippets of daily life and occasional tutorials on her blog Giochi di Carta (which translates to Card Games), Facebook and Instagram. These cupcake liner flowers would be just right for a Valentine's Day or spring party. Silvia's Big Cartel shop is also called Giochi di Carta, where you can see more of her paper cuttings and illustrations.


Have a wonderful weekend! I have a little jewelry project I've been meaning to try with paper string... I'm curious to see if it will work!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five Favorite Folded Paper Crafts

Ahh, we've entered the dog days of winter when it snows and snows (as opposed to the typical hot and steamy dog days of summer, you understand). January dog days are the kind when it's nice to hunker down somewhere cozy and think warm thoughts.


Perhaps while lazing about waiting for icy road conditions to improve, these paper craft projects will motivate you to plan a party - Valentine's Day is coming, so there's a goal.

Let's invite some guests... is there a more clever invitation than this pop-up house from Olive at Mr Printables? I don't think so!


A centerpiece on the buffet table is always nice. Kate from Kate's Creative Space made this simple/simply elegant altered book sculpture and brightened it immensely just by tucking in a couple of tulips. She wrapped the stems in damp paper towels to keep the blooms fresh for a few days. Contain the moisture with a bit of plastic wrap so the pages won't ripple before the party ends.

Riikka at Weekday Carnival shows how to make four more folded books. If your guests are the crafty type - or even if they aren't - they might enjoy book folding as a party activity. You could even do a little contest... who will come up with the most impressive design?


A garland of accordion fold globe lights would make any occasion more festive. Kate at Minieco shows how to make 'em.


Heather of Rhymes with Magic folded these pretty origami hearts from plain and patterned papers. Make some to scatter on the table. They're a little tricky, but she links to a video tutorial.... I don't know about you, but seeing someone do the actual folding always seems to help.


Feeling inspired? I hope so. And take heart... spring will be here before we know it. Won't it? Oh please!

Six Valentine's Day Paper Craft DIYs

I've gathered some previous projects in case you're searching for Valentine's Day paper pretties to send, use as decorations, or wear.


Clockwise from top left: 1. Heart Pendant 2. Fill My Heart 3. Heart Scroll Flower 4. Wrapped Hearts 5. Flower Power Card 6. Hearts and Flowers Card

Stay tuned... a batch of Valentine party ideas is coming up shortly!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Quilled Valentine Flower Card Tutorial

If you've been thinking of giving quilling a try, this quilled card tutorial would be a good place to start. The message inside says May our love bloom and grow which would work for an anniversary as well as Valentine's Day, or you could change the our to your and send it as an engagement or wedding card.

Quilled Heart Flower Card

Very few supplies are needed to quill; you probably have most on hand or can make substitutions to get started right away.

Quilling Supplies

Quilling Supplies:

Needle tool or slotted tool
Quilling paper - red, lavender, green, 1/8 inch (standard width)
Glue - any type that is suitable for paper; I like this gel adhesive
Scissors - detail
Glass head pin or paper piercing tool
Plastic lid
Non-stick surface
Damp cloth


Card Supplies:
Card stock - 1 sheet
Layering papers - as desired
Glue stick or double-sided tape
Paper trimmer
Bone folder

Quilling strips are slightly heavier than copy (computer) paper and are sold in single or multi-color packages containing 40-100 strips. Copy paper works fine for practice though... just cut a sheet into narrow strips with a paper trimmer.

There are two basic types of quilling tools - needle or slotted; the choice is a personal preference. A slotted tool is very easy to use, but leaves a tiny crimp in the center of a coil. While a needle tool is a little more difficult to master, the coils it creates will have perfectly round centers. Before purchasing one or the other, try a stiff wire, corsage pin, or even a cake tester from your kitchen drawer to get the feel of rolling paper.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

To roll a coil with a slotted tool: Slide one end of a strip into slot – the paper shouldn’t extend beyond it. Rotate the tool with one hand while evenly guiding the strip with the other hand.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

To roll a coil with a needle tool: Hold the tool handle with one hand and dampen the thumb and index finger of the other. Place one end of the strip across the needle. Roll the paper around the needle between your thumb and finger, taking care to rotate the paper, not the tool.

When the strip is fully rolled on either tool, release the coil and slip it off the tool (the result is a loose coil) or glue the end in place and slip this tight coil off the tool.

Tip: A torn end will blend better when glued than a cut end on a tight coil. The result will be a coil with a smooth edge and perfectly round appearance.

When gluing quilling, use the smallest amount of glue possible and keep a damp cloth handy to wipe any stickiness from your fingers. I like to apply glue by dipping the tip of a glass head pin into a small dab I've placed on a non-stick surface (a plastic lid works well). The use of a glue bottle with a very fine tip is another method that many quillers like.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

To create the flower shown here, you'll need to make eight heart scrolls as the flower petals, one tight coil as the center, a stem, and two leaves. See? Not that much; you can do this!

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

Make the heart scroll petals:
Fold a 3 inch red strip in half. Roll one end toward the fold, allow the coil to relax, and slip it off the tool. Repeat with the opposite end. Apply a tiny amount of glue with the tip of a pin where the top coils meet. (make 8)

Make the tight coil flower center: Cut a 3 inch lavender strip in half along its length. Discard one strip and tear one end of the other. Roll this strip starting with the cut end and glue torn end in place without allowing the coil to relax. Slip coil off tool. Press the ball of a glass head pin against one side of the tight coil to give it a domed top. Use the pin to apply a bit of glue inside the dome to preserve the curve.

Make the stem: Glue two 2.5 inch green strips back-to-back. When the glue has dried, curve the stem a bit by bending it around the quilling tool handle.

Make the large leaf: This is an alternate side looping technique called husking.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

a. Begin by making a 1/2 inch fold at one end of a quilling strip.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

b. Next, make a loop to the left of the fold that isn’t quite as tall as the fold.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

c. Make a second loop, this one to the right of the fold.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

d. Make another pair of loops, not quite as tall as the first pair.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

e. Encircle all of the loops with the same continuous strip to create a collar. Glue end in place at the bottom of the leaf and trim excess paper.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

f. Pinch the tip.

Make the small leaf: Repeat the large leaf steps, making the first fold 3/8 inch.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

Assemble the flower on a non-stick surface such as a plastic lid, waxed paper, or Styrofoam tray (tweezers are invaluable here):

a. Make one layer of the flower by gluing together four of the heart scrolls with points facing inward. Make a second layer with the additional four heart scrolls. Again, be sure to apply just a tiny amount of glue with the tip of a pin; no glue should show once the scrolls are in place. Allow glue to dry for a few minutes.
b. Spread a shallow puddle of glue on the non-stick surface and pick up one scroll layer with tweezers. Touch the underside of the layer to the glue and place this layer on top of the other layer, offsetting the heart scrolls so they don't directly overlap.
c. Glue the flower center to the top layer.
d. Glue one end of the stem between two of the hearts scrolls.
e. Glue one leaf on each side of the stem with the large leaf in the lower position.

When the glue has dried, glue the flower on a card or journal cover: Holding the flower gently with tweezers, touch the underside to the shallow glue puddle and then place it directly where desired. Try not to slide the flower into position as that would leave a shiny snail trail of glue.

Quilled Heart Flower Card Tutorial

Make the card: Cut an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of card stock in half across the width. Use a bone folder, dull knife, or a trimmer scoring blade to crease one of these halves in half again. Fold card along scored line. The result is a 4.25 x 5.5 inch card. Layer additional paper rectangles in graduated sizes, if desired. Use a glue stick or double-sided tape to adhere layers.

Quilled Heart Flower Tutorial

I hope this will be the first of many quilled cards you'll make! Of course if cards aren't your thing, another idea would be to place the flower in a small frame.

You'll find more quilling ideas, including another Valentine, in my books Creative Paper Quilling: Wall Art, Jewelry, Cards & More and All Things Paper: 20 Unique Projects from Leading Paper Crafters, Artists, and Designers.

One last thing... I'm putting together a new page tab that will be called Quilling FAQ. On Facebook recently I posed the question, What do you want to know about quilling? but because not everyone is on Facebook, I'm asking the same question here. Just leave your questions/comments below or email me at and I'll try to include them in the list.

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