Ever read Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility and wondered what Lucy was up to in making a filigree basket for Annabelle? I don’t mean her motive; she was obviously sucking up to Lady Middleton. But what was a filigree basket? And what did rolling papers have to do with it?
I must confess that my assumption for years was that the basket was something like crochet or tatting, with papers for temporary spacing. Then a fellow vendor at the Farmers’ Market straightened me out.
She was selling quilled ornaments – Christmas ornaments, pendants, baskets of flowers – and said that there was mention of her craft in Sense and Sensibility. I tried googling Jane Austin and quilling, and found that such filigree baskets were made by gluing the rolled and shaped paper to wooden baskets or boxes.
In Jane Austin’s day, quilling was done by wrapping thin strips of paper around a
literal quill. The roll was glued or pinched into shape, and the edge of the paper glued to the wooden base. Modern quilling can also be done with the rolls glued to other rolls to form shapes, and this is the kind my fellow vendor had for sale. The craft is popular enough that the paper strips – a little heavier than ordinary paper — can be bought precut in a variety of colors, and power tools do the rolling.
I keep telling myself that I do not have room for such delicate bits of artwork – but if I see her again before the Market closes for the season, I’ll probably succumb.