Christmas Angel Quilling

Welcome to my blog! I put out new posts every Wednesday about crafts, life, health, and poetry.

Right now all I care about is winding up work and have a lovely week off for Christmas. There will be booze and there will be baking and, oh god, there will be sweets.

This weekend my boyfriend and I are having our own little Christmas day (or weekend rather) and we’ll be exchanging our gifts and just having a lovely time. Then we’ll be spending Christmas day with our respective families. I insisted, actually, because we’re buying a house next year (all being well) and I’d like one more chance to be a kid before I go 50/50 on a property for the first time. It’s a scary step – but I am very excited.

Having experienced a lot of illness and hospital stays in the last few years (as well as other issues), I’ve lived with family and relied on them for a lot of support – I’ll be devastated to leave them. However, I will not be going far – no farther than drop-in distance for a cup of tea. It’s my partner who will be making a huge life-change and moving his business to be with me, so here’s hoping it all goes smoothly once we’ve started the ball rolling.

So it’s because I’ve got such a big year planned ahead that I’ll be 100% slobbing it in my jammies this year, being a big child, which is what I do best.

Angel quilling

Have you ever tried this craft? My brother introduced me to it – there seems to be hundreds of ways to quill and so many different crafts to come up with. My brother and I made some angels together, which was fiddly work at first, but it’s one of those things that becomes a lot easier once you’ve found your rhythm.

If you didn’t know: quilling is an art/craft which involves rolling, bending, or manipulating thin strips of paper into intricate designs or figures.

My first impression was that this is an amazingly economical hobby – as Fanny Cradock would say, ‘This won’t stretch your purse’.

Now there are millions of ways to do this and so many different designs, so have a look online or Youtube to find something you like. We made little finger-poppet angels, but once you have the basic figure made, you can create anything.

This isn’t a step-by-step or anything, but I just wanted to show you something cute I tried out recently. I would recommend a Youtube tutorial to get the technique down.

To make angels or little figures, you will need:

– Thin strips of paper from an A4 sheet (around 5mm) in desired colours
– PVA glue
– Quilling needle
– Scissors

Body
The body of these angels is made up of a small cone of quilled papers, about the size of a large thimble (to pop over your fingers!). You’ll need to glue about 8 strips end-to-end, allow to dry, and then coil together into a standard wheel with the quilling needle. Glue the end to the wheel to prevent it unravelling. Next, you need to gently push it in from the middle and keep going until it forms a cone shape. Do this very gently indeed – if you slip-up then the wheel will unravel and you’ll have to start again.

Once you have the shape down, smear a small amount of pva glue inside it, covering it all, and leave it to dry in its shape.

Head
Using the same technique as above, you’re going to make two wheels of 5 strips and push them out gently, just until you’ve made two little domes. Glue the inside of these, leave to dry, and then you can glue them together – now you have a little globe for a head.

Arms
These are just one strip of paper each, but be careful: small and fiddly = easy to fluff up. Push these tiny wheels out into little cones for the arms, glue inside, and leave.

Once all these are dry, you now have your basic figures. You can make these into anything now – a little santa, elves, angels – little devils, even. Fairys? Why not.

I think Quilling usually results in angels and fairies purely because people can make such beautiful wing designs.

Wings
For simple wings, make one larger wheel and four smaller ones. Before gluing the end of your strip down to the body of the wheel, let it unravel a little – you’ll see the strips separating. Before it goes too far (and once it is the desired size), pinch it between your thumb and forefinger and glue it in shape – this will make a tear-drop shape. One large teardrop + three smaller teardrops = one very cute wing.
8 tear drops in total will make a nice, small set of pretty wings – but you can make these as big and elaborate as you like. You can also look up the different spiral techniques and find some really intricate ideas if that’s your thing.

Me? I keep it simple.
Glue these pieces gently together, allow to dry, and then glue in between any bits you might have missed. Once dry, you can glue these to the body of your angel – try to use glue that’s been out for 15 mins or so so that it’s tackier and easier to mount wings onto and keep them in place without slipping off while they dry.

Glue on your head and arms and you are good to go! All your angel needs is a wig and maybe a halo. You can fashion a hair-do by quilling just the tips of the strips to make flicky-hair (as pictured) or coil a wheel to make a bun, but there will be much more exciting ideas online – play around and see what you can come up with.

Once you get in the swing of things, you can make some adorable paper figures which, once dry, are actually quite sturdy – and even better, if you make them the way I’ve detailed above, you can pop them on your fingers and make ’em dance.

Cute idea, huh?

As Neil Buchanan would say: why don’t you try it out for yourself?

This is a great craft to do with kids, but again, very fiddly – for little ones, maybe make the bodies first and then let them decorate and play.

My next blog will be due on Christmas day – I’m not sure what I’ll be posting yet, but I promise it’ll be festive, so please subscribe if you’d like to see more from me. I put out new blogs every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh

How to Make a Christmas Wreath (easy)

Welcome back to my blog! I put up new posts every Wednesday.

As it’s officially CHRISTMAS SEASON WAHOOOOOO! I thought I’d talk about a lovely wreath-making workshop I went to. Me and some of the girls from work had a great time making these wreaths (and I’m pleased to say the prosecco was flowing) so I’d definitely recommend an evening like this if you have one going locally.

These were made at a local florist near work. We paid £40 each and the space, materials, tutor, and bubbly were all supplied – you just had to bring yourself!

So here we go – I’m about to clumsily pass on the wisdom.

I’m going to call these the wrap-and-go wreaths, because that’s literally how it’s done – you just wrap the thing and go.

I say these are “easy”, but they’re easy once you’ve got your materials and wreath ring ordered in, and once you’ve wired your decorations – these bits were done for us. I have wired leaves etc before for my autumn candle holder craft here, but I have to say I was grateful not to have to do it again, as it’s fiddly.

This method is only for the metal ring methods – if you’re using an oasis ring, that won’t work here because the wrapping technique would simply crush the oasis into dust.

Supplies

1 metal wreath ring
Damp moss/vines/twigs/fur (for the base)
Blue spruce/fir branches
Sprigs of holly
Bay leaf branches
Twine
Scissors
Small garden secateurs
Copper wire or florist’s wire

Decorations
Ribbons
Cinnamon sticks
Pine cones
Dried oranges

These were all purchased via the florist’s supplier, so I would imagine you’d need to order these in via either your local florist, garden center, or online. This is the hardest part, because I’ve never bought sprigs of blue fir and holly online – have you?!

You can of course use dried or artificial foliage if you wanted. Oh, and I’m told that decorations such as dried oranges and cinnamon can be bought at Poundland, of all places, as well as Amazon – so look around.

Method

We began with pre-mossed wreath frames, but you’ll need to make your base. Tie your twine to the frame in a simple knot and stuff the moss in the frame and wrap it as you go. If you click the wreath frame link above, the Hobbeycraft website actually shows you some pictures of this method. Pack the moss in thick so you have something spongey for everything else to rest against. Tie it off when you’re done.

Once you’ve created a solid frame to build on, you can begin building the body of your wreath.

Tie twine to the outside edge of your frame and knot it (as you did before). Next, gather together a bunch of your supplies – take a big sprig of fir, bay leaf branch, and holly branch, and hold them together in a bunch so they layer up. You’re going to manipulate these around the shape of the wreath frame in one go – not layer by layer, branch by branch. If they’re too long or need trimming, then use your secateurs to adjust them.

This was the best part, actually, because I was expecting to have to wire up each individual sprig and place it in the frame – nope, not the case. You are literally going to grab the foliage and wrap it together as one lot in a binding process.

Start binding your bunches

Place your bunch of bay, fir, and holly roughly where you want them to start (I went round clockwise) and then start wrapping the twine around it. I don’t mean in a blanket-stitch type method – we’re talking two wraps round per bunch here – don’t worry about it feeling loose because you can pull it tight at the end. Weave the twine between the leaves and secure it against the frame – remember you can tidy this up later. If you can hide the twine, great – if you can’t, then oh well, that’s part of the rustic design, right?

Once you’re done, pull it tight, and move on to the next bunch – you want to layer this under the previous one and go around in the same direction. Do this until you come full circle and you will have a basic wreath of fir, bay, and holly! Tie off your twine and tweak away at the leaves until you’re happy with how it all lays together.

You can use big bunches, thin bunches, whatever – it’s your wreath. The thicker the foliage, the bigger and more impressive the wreath.

If you want more holly on top or want to add any accents, you can do this by tying on more twine and going around the frame the opposite way (anti-clockwise) to keep it symmetrical, or until you are happy that you’ve filled any gaps.

Now you have a basic green wreath – you’re halfway there!

Now you can decorate with your cinnamon, pine cones, and dried oranges – which all smell amazing, by the way. You will need to wire these. Get yourself some copper wire or florist’s wire and twist it neatly around your decorations, leaving a long ‘tail’ of wire at the end. You can see the cinnamon is wired in mine – you can wrap the wire around in a loop like that, or you can wire just around the bottom. What’s important is the tail, because that’s your hook.

I chose to place mine in neat bunches of three and clustered them together (see pics), but you can do yours your own way. You can also use whatever decorations you prefer – we used natural accents, but you could have baubles and ribbons if you wanted.

Simply thread the tail of the wire through your foliage and out the other side of your frame. Turn the tail in on itself and tuck it back up and through the frame and foliage again. They should be hooked on securely but not so tightly that they have no wobble-room.

Your final touch is to add a bow – these can go at the top, bottom, side of your wreath – wherever! It’s yours!

I used a glittery hessian material and wrapped it in a bow around the bottom half of my wreath, leaving the tails to dangle.

And there you have it – you have created a wreath.

Are you as surprised as I am about how simple the process was? I mean you literally just tie on your twine, wrap it around the big layers of fir, bay, and holly, tie it off and bam – it’s all on there. Easy. No fiddly wiring of each individual sprig for hours on end! You just wrap and go.

The great thing about wreaths and their materials is that it’s very difficult to go wrong. Providing you wrap them around the frame in the same direction, the wild and full nature of wreath design lends itself beautifully to hiding any clumsiness or mistakes.

Voila!


Once you’ve learned this simple wrapping method, you can make all kinds of wreaths of all different sizes – get creative and see what you come up with!

I hope you enjoyed that. If you’d like to see more, please subscribe – I put out new content every Wednesday.

Best wishes,
Ashleigh