In my last post I showed a lesser known quilling technique called tubing. I used it to make some fun teardrop shaped earrings.
When I first saw the tubing technique on Jane Jenkin’s quilling blog I immediately thought of making jewelry out of it. Of course, right? But the first design I thought of is actually the one I am sharing today, a cool spiral! But when I started playing with the tube I accidentally made the teardrop shape and thought it was so cool that it also needed to be shared. So that was the first one I made, but THIS one was the first one that I thought of.
If I had a nice long skewer I imagine that I could make an awesome long spiral. But this short one is cute, too! In today’s tutorial I will share the beginning instructions just like I shared in the last tutorial, and then I’ll show how to shape the tubes into spirals. So if you’ve already tried the tubing technique and just want to know how to shape these, scroll down closer to the end of the post.
Materials (for 1 pair of earrings)
- 4 full strips of 1/8″ width paper (I used 2 strips of brown and 2 strips of gold -24″ long each) – you may need more strips if you are using shorter 17″ long strips or if you are using a wider form/skewer than I am using here
- long slender item for wrapping the paper (I used the 2.0mm bamboo quilling form from Little Circles) You can use a barbecue skewer, thin knitting needle, etc.
- thin crafting wire, approximately 30-34 gauge, nice and thin and flexible
- craft glue – I love PPA (at Custom Quilling or on Amazon)
- sealant and topcoat (optional – to make your earrings sturdy and water resistant. For these I used Ceramcoat sealer as a base, and Diamond Glaze on top)
- earwires and jump rings (the jump rings I used here were small ones, about 3mm in diameter).
- two small beads, any type you’d like! For this pair I used some natural quartz chip beads
- What you are basically doing with tubing is spiralling a strip of paper down a thin form/dowel/skewer with multiple layers. 3-4 layers seems to work best for flexibility plus sturdiness. As I mentioned in the materials, I am using the bamboo quilling forms from Little Circles on Etsy. I am so glad I bought these, they are great for quilled jewelry! For this project I am using the smallest one, it says 2.0mm on the side. You can use a barbecue skewer, kabob stick, knitting needle, or anything else that is skinny like this. To start you need to glue the paper to itself. Make sure it is wrapped very tightly around the form so that it doesn’t come loose as you are working. Then you’ll need to bend it at an angle because you need to start spiraling. Continue wrapping the paper around the form, keeping it nice and tight together. You don’t want to leave blank spaces, and you also do not want your paper to overlap.
- Once you have reached the other end, hold the paper tight while you put on a dab of glue. Bend the paper down to the right over the glue, and continue spiraling in the other direction.
- You will notice that when you turn you will be spiraling in the other direction as you can see in this photo below. The lines of your spiral go in opposite directions. This is what you want! This is what makes your tubing nice and sturdy. If you put several layers all spiraling in the same direction you would not get a strong tube.
- When you reach the end again (now you are back at the place where you began the whole thing) you will be starting on your other color (unless you choose to just use one color for the whole tubing, or heck, you can use as many colors as you want!). Again you will be gluing the paper at the end to keep it tight and then bending it at an angle to start spiraling down. (oh, don’t mind my bit of a red fingernail here, my 2 year old insisted that I paint one of my nails while I was doing hers – if you are looking for a non toxic no-fume children’s fingernail polish, we use piggy paint and love it!) Okay, back to quilling…
- Here is a little troubleshooting. While you are wrapping your spiral, you need to make sure not to overlap your spiral and not to leave spaces. If you overlap then eventually you’ll get these bumps as you see in the left photo below. If you leave spaces it will be too loose as seen in the photo on the right below. So keep the edges of the papers right next to each other as much as possible!
- When you get to the end of your third layer, rip off any extra and glue the end on tightly. Here I also want to mention that I ONLY glue at the ends of my quilling form. I do not put any glue anywhere else along the spiral. The reason for this is because the designs I am making call for as much flexibility as possible. If you put dabs of glue along the tubing while making it, it will create stiff spots that will not bend smoothly. Not what you want here!
- Let your finished tubing dry for at least a few seconds and then remove it! Now this part can be tricky. Sometimes it slides off with ease. Other times it really takes some pushing and pulling to get it off. You want to be firm, but gentle. Watch carefully as you are pulling to make sure the whole tubing is coming and you are not pulling it apart. If it seems that you are pulling it apart, start pushing from the other end instead. You might have to do some fiddling, some pulling, pushing, pulling, etc. Then again, sometimes you get lucky and it comes off perfectly! It all depends on exactly how tight it was to begin with and whether you got any glue on the form or not. In the blogpost where I saw tubing in the first place she used a metal skewer that had a loop on one end. I’m thinking that must be handy for holding when trying to remove the tubing!
- Repeat the instructions so you have two pieces of finished tubing. Now you are ready to have some fun with them!
- To be able to close this design easily and make it into an earring, you need to use a wire. I used some thin flexible craft wire that I had on hand. I actually don’t know what gauge it is, it didn’t come with a label. My guess is that it’s somewhere around 34g. It is thin and very flexible. You can use any gauge you have as long as it is easily flexible by hand. Cut a piece that is more than twice as long as your tubing and stick it through.
- Now move your wire so that it is sticking out about 1 inch from one end. With the long end thread your bead onto the wire and stick the long end back through the tube. So on the bead end you’ll have a little loop with the bead. On the other end you’ll have two wire ends sticking out. Twist them together.
- Now it is time to soften and bend your tubing. I use my fingers and gently bend the tubing bit by bit from one end to the other as shown in the below photo on the left. If you immediately try to shape your tubing without doing the softening bend first, it could bend or not curve evenly, causing a mess up in your design. You’ll end up with almost a circle after the first softening. Then twist it more as in the third photo below for some extra softening.
- Time to shape the earrings! Be aware of the wire as it can sometimes slide while shaping. Curve your tubing around another quilling form, a pen, marker, or any other similar object. If you want a skinner spiral use a skinnier object. After wrapping the tubing into the spiral shape I like to bend the bottom part with the bead downwards and the top part upwards, but you can choose not to do that, totally up to you!
- Make sure your wire is pulled snuggly and not hanging on the bottom with the bead, and then twist the two ends together and wrap it around a small form/skewer to create a loop as shown.
- Repeat with the other tubing so you have two earrings:
- To make your pieces into earring, you need to now put on a jump ring and earwire. You can put on just one jump ring, or you can put on two or more, it is totally up to you!
- Now time to add some sealant! You CAN just wear your jewerly as it is now, but if it gets wet or handled roughly then it can easily get ruined. So I prefer to use sealant. There are many different sealants you can use. Click here to read all of the posts I have written specifically about different sealants. My favorite combination is to use a liquid sealer as a base to make the piece sturdy/stiff and then to use a topcoat or glaze to make it very water resistant. Most topcoats will be glossy, which is nice, but if you want a matte finish you can use PPA matte as your topcoat so your piece looks more like the original paper instead of shiny. The liquid sealer that I currently use is the brand Ceramcoat All Purpose Sealer. I have found it to be a great product. You can find it on Amazon or at craft shops such as Michael’s or Joanne’s. If you are in Malaysia, click here to find liquid matte sealant. For the topcoat there are SO many brands that work well. One of my current favorites is Diamond Glaze because it gives a nice hard finish. Find diamond glaze at Scrapbook.com, Blue Moon Scrapbooking, or on Amazon.
- To apply the sealant I pour a small amount into a cap and use a small, kind of stiff, paintbrush to paint it all over the surface. I use the jump ring and earwire to hold onto the piece while I paint. When you are finished, make sure you rinse your brush well or else it will dry completely stiff!
- Then hang to dry! Let it dry completely, at least a few hours but preferably overnight, and then apply the Diamond Glaze or other topcoat in the same way as the sealant. Again hang to dry.
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