During the month of July, L/A Arts is featuring works by local artist Jude Bellas in the “Arts and Ale” window at Gritty’s Pub on Main Street in Auburn. A native of Lewiston-Auburn, Bellas began paper quilling about six years ago. Twirling thin pieces of paper into lacelike flowers and birds has since become a favorite pastime for the retired substance abuse counselor, especially during the cold winter months.
Often inspired by the serenity of nature, many of her creations take days or even weeks to complete. The more intricate the piece, the longer it takes. Projects she has completed recently include the head of a bald eagle on an American flag background and a 3D chess set made entirely of paper. Completing the fine filigree work such projects require takes “patience and good eye glasses,” she says.
The term “paper quilling” comes from the fact that thin strips of paper were originally twirled on the end of a feather quill. Although the technique has adopted more modern methods in recent years, it is a centuries-old art form that was used to embellish furniture and books or was framed as wall art.
Monks, nuns and even “Ladies of Leisure” spent hours making fine filigree patterns, some of which can be seen today in museums. One remarkable piece in Hillsboro, Ohio is made entirely of human hair, while others are made from the gold edges of ancient book pages, cut into thin strips and fashioned into intricate patterns.