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The Quilling Queen

October 30, 2011
By Serra Muscatello - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - New Ulm lady Kathleen Reinhart has found something she loves to do - quilling.

Quilling, also called paper filigree, is thought to date back to the 15th Century. It began with French and Italian nuns who made the delicately rolled paper designs. The technique was first used to embellish religious plaques and relics. It was at that time that the paper was rolled onto bird quills. That is how it got the name "quilling."

Later during the 18th Century quilling became a popular art for fashionable young ladies in England. It was an art taught along with needlework and other handiwork. It was encouraged as a "proper" pastime for their leisure hours.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Serra Muscatello

Kathleen Reinhart has been quilling for about 30 years.

Quilling spread from England to the American colonies. It seemed to be the most popular in the New England area.

Reinhart, who grew up in Parkston, S.D., said she has been practicing the art of quilling for the past 30 years. Her early employment was as a school teacher. After marrying her husband Marvin, she lived as a farm wife for 30 years in rural Fairfax. The couple had two children: a daughter named Joan (Rear) and a son named John (who passed away in 1986 at the age of 25 years old).

Reinhart has been a resident of Oak Hills Living Center since February of 2008.

"Years ago there were County Extension groups," said Reinhart.

She began quilling when a lady with County Extension taught it during one of their classes. Reinhart said that someone asked her to make a birthday card.

"And I haven't stopped since," said Reinhart, "You need time and patience I always say if I got paid for my time nobody could afford me."

Reinhart has arthritis in her hands but she feels it's important to keep her fingers moving to do her quilling she said.

"People are surprised I'm still doing this I'm 82 and I only see well out of one eye," said Reinhart.

Reinhart has completed numerous quilling projects over the years. She has made animals like: giraffes, alligators, penguins, parrots, lions, tigers, mice, elephants, cats and dogs. Other projects have included: a variety of flowers, Christmas items like snowflakes, Santa figures, elves and ornaments.

Her grandson received a gift of quilled chess board for his high school graduation. It took her 85 hours to finish. She completed the project by doing the 32 chess pieces to go with it as a birthday gift for him.

Reinhart also made four iris flowers for her daughter.

"All the leaves took so much time," said Reinhart, "It (quilling) takes a lot of time."

The very first clown she quilled was named "Dufus."

"He's always falling over," she said, "A lot of people want the clown (design)."

She also has a clown named "Dingledorf."

It takes her about eight to 10 hours to make each clown.

Another project she made was a quilled antique tractor for her brother-in-law.

"Oh boy, was that something else," said Reinhart.

Reinhart has done quilling around several different wedding invitations. She will quill around the invitation in the bride's colors.

The piece is usually framed and given to the couple as a wedding gift.

She uses strips of paper in various widths of 1/16 of an inch, 1/8 of an inch, 1/4 of an inch and 3/8 of an inch. Most of the time she uses the 1/16 of an inch papers.

"I have so much quilling paper," said Reinhart, "I could go around the world with it."

Reinhart threads the paper into a small slot on her quilling tool. She then tightly rolls the paper around the tool. She keeps the edge even as she rolls the paper.

Different shapes can be made after the papers are rolled she said. There are shapes like: tear drops, bunny ears, marquise, rolled heart, and square.

A fringing tool can also be used to create a unique effect. She will fringe the length of a paper on one side, roll into a tight circle. Using a fingernail, she will spread the fringed side of the tight circle open.

Some of her quilled creations have traveled to places like Germany, Austria, Belgium and many states within the country.

Reinhart said that quilling is more popular in the southern United States than it is in this part of the country. It is also gained popularity in England and Australia.

"I don't know how long I'll keep doing this- as long as my fingers will do it I guess," said Reinhart.



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