Make a Miniature Quilled Violin or Cello

The following is a guest post by Kariana Leinbach. She is sharing it in response to your comments about her amazing quilled orchestra.

Hi, everyone! Thank you for your kind comments and interest in my orchestra model. Many of you requested a tutorial on how to make the instruments... a 3D quilled violin topped the list. As a bonus, I am including the measurements for a quilled cello (in italics), since the building processes are very similar and it was also requested by quite a few of you. If you have questions or run into  trouble with the tutorial, comment below. I would love to see the instruments you make, so please feel free to send me photos of your work via my Facebook page, Symphony in Paper.

Miniature quilled violin played by a paper violinist

Violin Supplies

Quilling strips - 1/8"; black, brown (I like "rust" as a violin color), tan or peach, gold or silver
Quilling tools - slotted, needle tool
Glue (I love Aleene's Original Tacky Glue)
Needle-nose tweezers
Paper clip(s)
Bottlecap (or something flat to press pieces smooth)
Helix circle template (or ruler)
Small scissors
Kebab skewer
Silver thread

seven miniature quilled paper cellos

Cello Supplies

Quilling strips - 3/8" and 1/4" brown paper (your choice of "cello-brown" shade; I like rust), 1/4" and 1/8" black, tan or peach
Quilling tools - slotted, needle tool
Glue (I love Aleene's Original Tacky Glue
Needle-nose tweezers
Paper clip(s)
Bottlecap (or something flat to press pieces smooth)
Helix circle template (or ruler)
Small scissors
Chop stick
Wire cutters
Kebab skewer
Silver thread
Tiny bead (optional)

(Ann's edit: Quilling and paper craft supplies can be found in my Amazon shop.) 

Minature quilled violins

NOTE: I use Quilled Creations quilling strips; each is 17.5 inches long. For rolling tight coils, it really does matter which tool you use. Even the slightest variation in the thickness of the tool (slotted, needle, paper clip, etc.) affects the size of the finished piece and/or how the different parts fit together.

I use a Helix circle template to measure the diameters of loose coils, so I’ll include the corresponding circle numbers. If you don’t have a Helix circle template, I've also included the circle diameters in inches. For those who may be unfamiliar with string terminology/parts of the violin, refer to this diagram. 

Violin diagram

1. Body (upper and lower bout)
2. Middle or C-bouts (c-shaped curve between upper and lower bouts)
3. Neck components: Peg box
4. Neck components: Neck/fingerboard
5. Neck components: Scroll/neck attachment
6. Entire fingerboard length
7. Tailpiece
8. F-holes
9. Chinrest
10. Pegs
11. Bridge
12. Fine tuner

quilled violin components

1. Begin with the body of the violin.

a. Using 1 strip of paper (I used rust, but you can use whatever violin-like color you like) roll a tight coil using slotted tool. This will be the upper bout. (For cello, use 5 strips of 3/8" paper and the tapered end of a chop stick or tool of similar thickness.)
b. Using 31" of paper (2 strips minus 4 inches), roll tight coil using slotted tool. This will be the lower bout. (For cello, use 9 strips of 3/8" paper on the tapered end of a chop stick.) Be sure both tight coils are perfectly flat and smooth; I like to press/rub them flat with a bottle cap.
c. Glue bouts together to form a snowman-like shape. Allow them to dry completely.

2. Complete the body by adding the C-bouts.

a. Using 1" of paper, roll a loose coil using the #3 circle (about 1/8" diameter). Make 2. (For cello, use 3" of 3/8" paper; make the coils using the #9 circle - about 1/4" to 5/16" in diameter.)
b. Pinch the coils into teardrop shapes.
c. After applying a little glue to the sides of the teardrops, insert the points into the gaps between the bouts on the now-dried snowman shape, one on each side.
d. Gently press/squeeze the rounded ends of the teardrops that are now bulging out on either side of the piece, filling in the gaps and allowing the snowman to begin taking on the curved shape of a violin.
e. Allow a little time to dry; you may want to pinch and hold the sides in with your fingers in order to encourage the piece to hold its shape.
f. Take a fresh strip of paper and glue an end of it onto the side of the violin. Applying bits of glue regularly along the way, wrap the violin tightly and securely. Trim off the extra paper after you've wrapped the violin twice and glue the loose end down.

miniature quilled violin components

3. Build the neck. This involves a few pieces, so let's begin with the peg box.

a. Using about 1 3/4" of paper, roll a tight coil using slotted tool. (For cello, use 1/4" paper and the thin end of a chop stick.)
b. Squeeze /pinch the coil hard until it has flattened into an oval shape. If it doesn't get very oval-like, try rolling another coil with something larger than the slotted tool, like a paper clip or kebab stick. This will make the center hole a little bigger, making it less solid and easier to pinch.

4. Next, make the neck length and part of the fingerboard.

a. Using 4" of black paper, cut the strip in half lengthwise. This can be tricky and may take a few tries; small scissors make it easier to see while you're cutting. You will have 2 strips of 1/16" paper paper. Using only one, roll a loose coil with the #8 circle or about a 9/32" diameter. (For the cello, use 1/2" strip of 1/8" black paper - no lengthwise cutting necessary. Loose coil will be using the #13 circle or about 7/16" diameter.)
b. Gently pinch 4 corners so that the loose coil forms a long, narrow rectangle. It does not need to be perfectly symmetrical as long as it has relatively flat sides and is about 1/8" wide or slightly less. (For cello, it should be roughly the same or a little less than 1/4" wide.)
c. Using brown paper, cut a 9/16" segment. (For cello, make a second rectangle loose coil. Cut 1/2" of a 1/8" brown strip in half lengthwise. Use this to make a rectangle that is identical in size to the black one made previously.)

5. Put the pieces together to make the completed neck.

a. Cut a segment of brown paper that is about 1 1/2" long; this will become the scroll that holds the entire neck together. (For cello, cut a 2 1/4" segment from brown 1/4" paper.)
b. Glue the peg box onto one end of the black rectangle. (For the cello, first sandwich the black and brown rectangles together, then glue the peg box to one end.)
c. Glue the rectangle/peg box combo to the shorter (9/16") brown segment cut earlier in Step 4c. (Nothing needed here for cello.) This serves as a backing/reinforcement for the neck.
d. Glue the entire piece onto the longer brown segment cut in Step 5a so that the non-peg box end of the fingerboard is flush with the end of the segment. (For cello, glue the sandwich and peg box piece to the segment cut in 5a.)
e. Using a slotted or needle tool, gently roll the extra bit of the longer bottom segment up towards the fingerboard to form the scroll. You may want to unroll and reroll it with your fingertips so it will take on a larger, looser shape.
Note: steps 3-5 can be a bit confusing; see the photos below to help with this part of the process.

quilled violin or cello components
completed violin necks

violin neck components
cello neck pieces before assembly

paper violin scrolled component
completed cello neck

6. Attach the fingerboard to the body of the instrument, then complete the fingerboard.

a. Glue the non-scroll end of the neck to the top of the violin. Make sure the top surface of the neck is perfectly flush with the top surface of the instrument. See photos for reference.
b. Allow to dry completely; in order to keep the neck from sagging or falling off during the drying process, tuck a thin piece of paper clip underneath the neck as a support. (For cello, a thin chopstick should do.)
c. Cut an 11/16" segment of black paper; this will be the actual fingerboard that goes on top of the neck and body. (For cello, use a 1/3/8" segment of 1/4" black paper.)
d. Glue the fingerboard to the top of the neck and body. The top should be flush against the base of the peg box and align with the top corners of the C-bouts. (For the cello, the fingerboard will be a little higher than the peg box, but that's okay.)

paper violin - in progress

quilled violin bodies in progress

7. Make the tailpiece and attach it to the violin.

a. Cut a 3 1/2" segment of black paper. (For cello, cut one strip of 1/8" black paper in half, about 8 3/4".)
b. Cut the piece in half lengthwise. (Same for cello.)
c. Very carefully cut one of the lengths in half lengthwise again. The result will be a very narrow strip that is roughly 1/32" wide. (No need to cut again for the cello.)
d. Roll one of the thin strips into a loose coil using the #5 circle or width about 3/16" diameter. (For cello, use the #15 circle or about 9/16" to 5/8" diameter.)
e. Pinch the coil into a long, thin teardrop, then gently squeeze two corners on the base of the teardrop to make a long, narrow triangle.
f. Glue onto the instrument body; the tip of the triangle should be flush with the end of the violin. See photo below that shows tailpieces and completed fingerboards.

quilled violins in progress

8. Make the f-holes and attach to the violin.

a. Using the leftover pieces of 1/32" width black paper, cut 2 segments measuring 1/4" each. (For cello, you will also cut these from 1/32" paper, each measuring 1" in length.)
b. Using a needle tool, gently roll one end of each strip about halfway down the segment, then repeat on the other end, making sure to roll downwards on the opposite side of the paper. You may want to unroll and reroll these S-scrolls until you're satisfied with the curvature. The pieces should look like a fancy S when you're done. See photo.
c. Using fine-tip tweezers, gently glue the f-holes to the violin body's center parallel to one another, one on each side. The tops of the S should be almost exactly parallel to the center of the violin body. See photo.

quilled s scrolls

quilled violin tutorial in progress

9. Make the chinrest and attach to the violin. (No chinrest for the cello!)

a. Still using a 1/32" width of black paper, cut a 2 3/4" segment.
b. Make a loose coil using the #4 circle, about 5/32" in diameter.
c. Pinch into a slight oval shape.
d. Glue onto the violin body, just to the left of the tailpiece and flush with the side of the violin. See previous f-hole photo for reference.

10. Make the pegs and attach to peg box.

a. Cut 4 thin segments off the end of a 1/8" width piece of black paper. (Cut a little longer for the cello from 1/32" width paper; you can play with the length.)
b. Dip an end of each segment in glue and gently insert into the center hole on either side of the peg box. Put two of these segments on each side of the peg box; make sure about half of the segments are left sticking out. See photo.
c. Using 1/32" wide black paper, cut 4 segments that are about 5/16" in length. (For cello, use 1/16" width paper and cut 1" segments.)
d. Roll tiny coils with these 4 segments using needle-nose tweezers; it may take several tries.
e. Gently dip each coil in glue and place onto one of the segments sticking out on either side of the peg box (the segments should just be able to be inserted into the coils' center holes). After they dry, dab a bit more glue around the pegs with the needle tool in order to strengthen them.

 adding components to a quilled violin

quilled miniature paper violins

11. Make the bridge and attach to the violin.

a. Cut a 1 1/8" segment from a 1/8" width of light brown, tan, or peach-colored paper. (For cello, 1/8" width of tan paper cut in half.)
b. Cut segment in half LENGTHWISE twice, so that you have strips of 1/32" width paper. (For cello, just cut lengthwise once.)
c. Roll one of these strips into a tight coil using needle-nose tweezers. (For cello, roll the strip around a thick paper clip or a thin kebab skewer.)
d. Firmly squeeze the tight coil into an oval shape.
e. Glue to the center of the violin directly between the f-holes. See photo below that shows violins with bridges, as well as the start of the stringing process.

strings placed on quilled violins

12. Make the fine tuner for the E-string of the violin.

a. Using gold or silver paper, cut out just a tiny chip; this will be the last piece placed after the violin has been strung. (For cello, make another tiny tight coil just like the process for the pegs; it will be smaller. Using 1/32" width black paper, cut a 5/8" segment and roll tightly using needle-nose tweezers.)

13. String the violin and add the fine tuner.

a. Using silver thread, cut 4 pieces about a few inches each. Dab glue onto the top of the peg box and place an end of each piece into the glue. You may need to play around with the threads using the needle tool until they lay straight and parallel.
b. Allow to dry completely, then dab a bit more glue on top of the dried glue to ensure the strings stay in place. Everything must be completely dry before you continue to the next step.
c. Glue the strings to the bridge; see previous photo for string placement. Dab a little glue onto the bridge first, then use the needle tool to position the strings on top of the bridge. Again, apply a second layer of glue once the first has dried.
d. Using the same process, glue the strings to the top of the tailpiece, let dry, and second-coat.
e. Trim the extra thread lengths carefully.
f. Using a dot of glue, place the fine-tuner (the tiny chip of metallic paper or the last tight coil made if you're doing the cello) onto the end of the E-string on the tailpiece (the string on the far right). DONE!! See photos for string placement.

quilled violin in progress with needle-tip tweezers

paper violin with strings in place

attaching strings onto a quilled violin

14. If making a cello, you will also need to make the endpin.

a. Using wire cutters, cut a piece off the straight side of a paper clip, about 5/8" to 3/4" in length.
b. Using 1/16" width black paper, cut a 1 1/2" segment and roll into a tight coil.
c. Glue the coil onto one end of the piece of paper clip.
d. Glue a tiny bead onto the other end of the paper clip (or you could make another tight coil similar to the first, but use a 3/4" to 1" segment instead).
e. Glue the endpin to the bottom of the cello, making sure it is perfectly aligned to the center of the tailpiece. See photos.

tiny coils as quilled cello pegs

miniature quilled cello

A huge thank you to Kariana for taking the time to assemble this detailed tutorial!

Miniature quilled orchestra strings section

P.S. In case you are curious about the bows, she told me they are made entirely of paper too, plus a piece of real bow hair!
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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. WOW!! Such beautiful,deatiled work. Wish I had the time & patience to do this.

    1. I know what you mean... I can't imagine the number of hours Kariana put in on the entire orchestra!

  2. I can't believe how intricate this is and that it's made out of paper!!

    1. I agree, Andrea! Thanks for commenting... and your blog is lovely.

  3. I love miniatures & these are just too cute!

    1. I do too, Valerie! So glad you enjoyed seeing them.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this....made a mini paper guitar for my guitar playing son on his Bday card last am inspired to do more instruments for my very musical family.

  5. Exquisite work ! the time and patience for that is commendable !
    Tempted to try, wish me luck !

  6. Quick question, what brand of quilling paper do you use?

    1. Anon, I'm not Kariana, but I am the owner of this site and a quiller. I like to use Quilled Creations paper.


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