“It is amazing to me,” said Bingley, “how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are.”
“All young ladies accomplished! My dear Charles, what do you mean?”
“Yes all of them, I think. They all paint tables, cover skreens, and net purses. I scarcely know any one who cannot do all this, and I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished.”
Pride and Prejudice
If you are familiar with the BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice, you may have wondered what the Bennet sisters were doing with a number of pieces of rolled paper spread over the table in one scene.
One genteel pastime for young ladies in the late 18th and the first part of the 19th century was decorating objects with rolled paper.
Undecorated wooden frames were often sold for this purpose. Ladies then decorated the object with pieces of paper rolled and cut into different patterns. After being rolled up, the papers were cut in short lengths and glued to the wooden frame in a filigree pattern. The project might be finished by painting and gilding. Sometimes a focal point was created using a watercolour or print. Objects decorated in this way might include mirror frames, jewel boxes, tea caddies, and even a screen.
Similar results to rolled paper crafting can be created by experimenting in Quilling, an ancient art form that has been practiced since ancient Egyptian and/or 4th Century Grecian times. Although they obviously would not have used paper in the 4th century, it is believed the Greeks used thin metal wires to decorate containers, especially boxes, and Egyptian tombs have been found containing similar wire shapes akin to modern quilling.
During the Renaissance, nuns and monks picked up the art to decorate book covers and religious items. They used gilded paper strips in order to imitate the original metal wires. The name quilling is said to be derived from the fact that the nuns and monks originally used feather quills as their tool to roll the paper. Later, the craft spread throughout Europe and to the Americas.
Quilling is seing a resurgence in popularity today. You will very often see it used to decorate wedding invitations, birth announcements, greeting cards and such.
According to the DIY network:
The art of paper quilling dates back three or four centuries to a time when nuns used the gold edges trimmed from Bible pages to create simple but beautiful works of artistry. The scraps of paper were wrapped around goose quills to create coiled shapes — hence the name “quilling.”
These instructions for a Quilled Flower are reproduced from Nancy’s Wonderful World of Quilling
You Need: Four 6″ strips of 1/8″ paper(your choice of color)
Roll into loose circles with end glued. Pinch to form teardrop, make sure the glued end falls in the center of rounded part of teardrop.
You Need: One 5″ length of 1/8″ green paper.
Roll into tight circle for flower center. Glue four teardrops to tight circle.
You Need: One 4″ length of 1/8″ green paper.
Fold paper in half and roll each end into a loose scroll in the same direction, rolling about half-way to fold.
You Need: One 6″ length of 1/8″ green paper
Roll into loose circle with end glued. Pinch at seam and exactly opposite of seam to form leaf shape. Glue greenery to flower and attatch flower to gift tag, card, scrapbook, or wherever desired.
Sharon Wagoner is Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical tour through Regency London!