The American Lisa Nilsson specialises in quilling or paper filigree, a technique where narrow strips of paper are rolled, shaped and glued together to an art object. A craft that requires a lot of patience and finesse.
‘I spent about a year making illustrations for magazines and the deadlines were horrible’, so says Nilsson ‘Also because I’ve always been drawn to slow time-consuming techniques. One day I found an antique piece of quilling in a vintage shop. Around that time a friend knew I was interested in science and she sent me a anatomical drawing of the human body. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, the way the organs are contained in the body. And I really saw a connection to the paper.’
The artist always starts with the external shape, fitting it together like a puzzle. Nilsson prefers Japanese mulberry paper because it is thin, soft and pliable. To bend the paper she even made her own tools. The result is a refined work of art carried out with extraordinary precision. Her latest work is a rug and took about six months to make.
The technique of quilling was used for the first time by monks in the Renaissance. Looking for an inexpensive way to imitate silver or gold filigree, the brothers used the golden edges of worn-out bibles.
Source: MCC – Photos: Courtesy Lisa Nilsson