The Internet has numerous projects where paper quilling techniques and empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes are combined to create the look of wrought iron, and having seen these, I have wanted to try this technique for  myself. I wondered if I could use that look on one of my frames. I figured it was a good project to work on since it was small and I would be able to complete it without too great a time investment.

To start with, I knew that I needed to form some sort of raised edge along the sides of my frame in order to keep the quilled sections in place. To make these, I cut appropriately-sized pieces from the folded edges of cardboard packages like cereal, cracker, and pasta boxes. My goal was to make an edge that extended a quarter-inch above the surface of the frame. I glued the corners of the framing strips together and slid them into place over the frame I had made, but I did not glue these down. I knew I needed them to be support pieces while I was forming my “wrought iron”, but I wasn’t sure if I would include them in my final design.

Taking the tubes that I had saved, I began to cut them into quarter-inch strips. I tested several different lengths to see what kind of designs I could make after I had curled the strip around a paintbrush. Beginning in the corners of the frame I began testing different swirling patterns, and after I had designed something pleasing there, I proceeded to fill in the spaces in-between. Once I had an overall design that I liked, I began the rather time-consuming process of gluing the pieces to each other and to the inside framing piece only. I did not glue them to the outside edge because I decided that the exposed curled edge of the cardboard pleased me more and looked more like the wrought iron effect that I was trying to achieve. I was also careful not to glue the quilled sections to the surface of the the frame.  I wanted to paint the front of my frame with a metallic copper-colored acrylic paint, but since I wanted the “wrought iron” section to be black, I still needed to be able to separate the pieces for painting. After the glue dried, I was able to lift the quilled section off the frame, remove the outside support piece and paint it and the frame as I had planned.

The final step was to glue the quilled section down onto the front of my frame after the paint dried. I had made this frame an odd size, so it looked much better on one of my easels than it did with a standard support piece. I painted the easel black to match the “wrought iron” and was pleased with the overall result. This is another of those projects that I look at and marvel that anything as humble as an empty toilet paper tube could be used to create something so classy!

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