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28 May 2019

Cutting, quilling and folding paper, a unique and creative art form

Meeting with Judith from JUDiTH+ROLFE in St-Paul, Minnesota. She explains her background, paper art and the techniques employed to shape her ideas.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself ? Your origins and background ?

I’m Judith, the maker and creative half of JUDiTH+ROLFE. I create contemporary artwork out of paper by using techniques of rolling, quilling, folding, and cutting. Rolfe is my partner, he doesn’t paper-craft; he’s my problem-solver and helps out with ideas, finances, logistics, legal, et cetera behind-the-scenes stuff.

I was born and grew up in Singapore. I moved to New York to study architecture, and ended up staying in New York City after graduating. For over a decade, I worked as an architect in the city, and that is also where I met my husband Rolfe. When a job opportunity in Minnesota arose for Rolfe, we decided we were ready for a change and moved to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis–Saint Paul. We are currently based in Saint Paul, the state capital of Minnesota.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

How did you first come in contact with quilling and paper art in general ?

My path to paper art unexpectedly started in 2016. I was searching for personalized name gifts but couldn’t find anything I liked, and so decided to make some customized gifts myself. Using pre-cut paper strips, I started rolling paper coils and totally fell in love with the process. I find the repetitiveness meditative and relaxing, and have been working with paper almost every day since.

Those first paper gifts were very well received; I started an Instagram account to share the work and had really positive responses, which encouraged me to keep going. Commissions started coming in, and here we are, 3 years later, still on this exciting journey.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

What does paper mean to you ? What message are you trying to convey through this medium ?

It is amazing to me that plain paper can be transformed into intricate works of art with just time, patience and skill. I was initially drawn to paper because of its availability and ease of use. It’s not an intimidating medium, and having gone through architecture school, it’s a familiar material to work with.

As briefly mentioned earlier, I primarily use a technique can broadly be called “quilling” since I work with strips of paper and lay them on edge to form designs. Though in my method of working, instead of using the traditional shapes typically associated with paper filigree, I treat each strip of paper as its own line. The paper strips are glued individually to create the artwork, almost like sketching with paper.

The quilled artwork changes depending on a person’s point of view and changes with the light throughout the day; light and shadow become elements of the work, creating contrast and dynamic views. The paper used is acid-free and/or archival. Through my work, I hope to convey that even though paper is a humble medium, working with it shouldn’t be relegated to a craft, but can be considered fine art.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

Your creations are diverse in both colours and meanings. Where do you draw your inspiration from to present such varied work ?

Nature, architecture, geometry and typography are constant themes in our work.
Inspiration can come from anywhere really; one source of inspiration is from other creative disciplines, such as ceramics, fiber arts, glass works and so on.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

How would you define the singularity and uniqueness of your paper art ?

My art is influenced by my background in architecture, design and photography. The art of quilling has been around since at least the 13th century. By taking an old art form and approaching it in my own unique and innovative way, I hope to keep this technique from becoming a lost art, yet at the same time elevating the art form and keeping it relevant for today.

© JUDiTH+ROLFE

You can follow JUDiTH+ROLFE on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to see their current work and behind the scenes.

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