Quilled Scallop Shell Tutorial

The first quilling tutorial I ever wrote was for a paper crafting site called Folding Trees... it no longer exists and I still miss it. My how-to featured two patterns - a quilled starfish and a scallop shell - both designed to be worn as necklace pendants. I've since reposted the quilled starfish tutorial on this blog, and today I'm happy to (finally!) share the quilled shell design, two actually, as I've tweaked the original and will show both in this post.

quilled scallop shell pendant with black silk necklace cording

Tools and Supplies:

Quilling supplies used to make a quilled scallop shell pendant

Quilling strips - your choice of color.

I used black with a metallic gold edge for the original scallop shell and pearlized gold with a metallic gold edge for the revised version, 1/8 inch (3mm) width, from JJ Quilling Design in England.

Tip: JJ Quilling metallic edge strips have a bright shine along one edge and are available in many color combinations. One package contains enough strips to make several pendants. [edit: As of 2022 the company has been sold. U.S. online shop, Quilling Supply, carries a selection of the JJ brand and Quilled Creations now has its own metallic-edge strips.]

Quilling tool - needle or slotted My favorite precision slotted tool is from this Etsy shop in Japan.

For this design, a quilling tool will only be needed to make the base. Any slim wire, pin, or even a cocktail pick can be substituted.

Detail scissors

Craft glue - I like this Scotch clear gel adhesive now that my former fave by Martha Stewart Crafts (pictured) is no longer available.

Paper piercing tool, ball head pin or cocktail pick - to apply glue

Plastic lid - to use as a glue palette

Fine tip tweezers - for ease in handling coils

Paper crimper - I have one similar to this and find it useful for crimping card backgrounds too 

Non-stick work board - wax paper, acrylic sheet, Styrofoam tray - to use when assembling the seashell

Damp cloth - keep those fingers glue-free!

Flat nose jewelry pliers - you'll need 2 pairs

Jump ring - any size you like; I used 8mm

Necklace cording or chain

Optional: I don't find it necessary to use a protective coating on paper pendants since they are generally out of harm's way when worn, but in a humid climate you may wish to apply a brush-on or spray matte fixative. Liquitex Matte Varnish is a good one.

Instructions: (finished pendant measures approximately 1.5 inches in diameter)

1. Make 9 quilled wheat ears:

    2 with 3 loops
    2 with 4 loops
    2 with 5 loops
    3 with 6 loops

To make a wheat ear:

a. Begin by making a ¼ inch fold at one end of a 10 inch (approximate) strip.

quilled wheat ear step 1 one end folded down

b. Loop the strip completely around the fold. Apply a dot of glue at the bottom to anchor the strip in place.

quilled wheat ear step 2 two loops

Gluing tip: Use the smallest possible amount; no glue should show on your finished project. I like to put a small dollop on a plastic lid and dip from it with the tip of a paper piercing tool, cocktail pick, or pin as this helps to control the amount. A fine-tip plastic glue bottle is popular with many quillers too. 

 c. Continue to loop the paper, spacing the loops evenly. It isn't necessary to glue each one. Each loop should be slightly taller than the previous loop. Gently shape them as you go to form a column.

d. Glue the strip at the bottom of the column and trim any excess.

quilled wheat ear step 3 six loops

2. Glue the wheat ears side by side with the tallest three in the center. Arrange the remaining wheat ears by descending height on each side of the center wheat ears.

3.  Make the marquise base coil:

a. Roll an 18-inch strip on a quilling tool.

hands holding a quilling needle tool
needle tool

hands holding a slotted quilling tool with paper strip in the slot
 or slotted tool - the choice is yours

b. Allow the coil to relax.

quilled loose coil on needle tool
relaxed 'loose' coil on needle tool

c. Slip this loose coil off the tool and pinch it at opposite sides to make two points. Glue the end at one of the points and trim excess. Shape the marquise to match the one in the finished pendant photo by holding both points and pressing gently toward the coil center.

 hands pinching a quilled marquise coil

4. Stack and glue two 3-inch strips, one on top of the other, to make a double-strength strip. If excess glue seeps out along the edges, wipe the strip gently with a damp cloth while the glue is still wet.

Fiskars paper crimping with quilling strip in the process of being crimped

5. When the strip is completely dry (don't rush or it may buckle), run it through a crimper. Use your finger to apply a light coating of glue along the bumps on one side of the crimped strip, then press it gently in place around the wheat ears to make a shell shape. Trim excess.

6. Glue the marquise at the base of the wheat ears.

7. Reinforce joins by dotting glue on the back of the seashell. Set aside and allow the glue to dry overnight.

8. Use two pairs of jewelry pliers to open a jump ring by grasping each side close to the split and twisting gently. Slip the ring onto the center wheat ear and reverse the twisting motion to close.

hands holding jewelry pliers opening or closing a jump ring

9. Slide a cord or necklace chain through the jump ring. Finis - something new to wear today!

 quilled components of a scallop shell

Here is a scallop shell variation that has three coils at the base rather than one marquise. These are shaped triangles that are made the same way as a marquise with the addition of pinching a third point. The largest triangle is made with a 10-inch strip and the two smaller triangles are each made with a five-inch strip.

Quilled scallop shell pendant with gold necklace chain

Tip: If you don't have access to metallic-edge quilling paper, plain strips can be edged with a Krylon leafing pen. Another option is to press the completed pendant against a metallic ink pad, such as Galaxy Gold by Brilliance for a more subtle shine.

I hope you'll enjoy quilling this simple and summery scallop shell necklace... it's easy enough to make in an evening and wear the next day!

Here's the companion starfish pendant. Quilling teachers, if you would like to show your students how to make either of these designs, please do! All I ask is that you credit me and this site in your handouts.

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Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. This is really lovely. I haven't done any quilling in a very long time. I should pull my stuff out and give it a try again.

    1. Ann, hello! It's so nice to see your name again... I hope all is well in your world. Thanks so much about the seashell - it's a good little project to lure you back into quilling. :)

  2. Very nice! Thanks for sharing...


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