Where there's a quill, there's a way Craft technique decorates with paper


January 06, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Some people haven't the patience to thread a needle, le alone spend hours wrapping thin strips of paper around one.

But 71-year-old Kathryn "Iris" Kortisses has been doing it for years, and says she finds the art of quilling "quite thrilling."

"And does time fly by when you are doing it," said Mrs. Kortisses, a member of the Matinees Homemakers' Club. "You sit down to work, and the next thing you know a couple of hours have flown by."

Quilling was used by 17th-century nuns to decorate their Bibles. It involves wrapping the paper around a hollow cylinder, which one turns in one's hand.

Nowadays, crafts people can replace the quill with other tools, such as the corsage pin Mrs. Kortisses uses to fashion flowers, ornaments and other border designs for the items she decorates.

"I learned using a corsage pin, so I guess you just continue with what you are comfortable with," said Mrs. Kortisses, an Ohio native who lives with husband Paul in Finksburg.

Last year, she won a blue ribbon at the county's Cultural Arts Contest for a wedding invitation she had bordered with quill flowers and ribbon. The invitation went on to be chosen the grand champion in both the state and the national competitions.

"When it went to the nationals in Burlington, Vermont, I couldn't believe it," Mrs. Kortisses said. "And then it won? I guess not a lot of people had done quilling."

From as far away as Canada, people have sent wedding invitations, graduation announcements and other mementos to be bordered with the tiny paper doodads and framed with Mrs. Kortisses' special touch.

"People I do these for show them to someone else, and then that person sends me some to do," she said.

Mrs. Kortisses has always been interested in crafts, but she said she couldn't resist quilling once she became aware it existed.

"When I saw the craft in a magazine about 15 years ago, I thought it was absolutely lovely. I had to try it."

During one of the Homemakers' club's craft fairs, where she displaying her growing collection of quill art, Mrs. Kortisses found she wasn't the only fan of the ancient craft.

"There I was with my little table set up, when I see this sweet, little, old lady with all kinds of items, things I didn't know how to do," Mrs. Kortisses said of Westminster resident Kitty Lynch's quilling. "She was so surprised I knew about quilling that she told me to come over to her house so she could teach me more about it."

Mrs. Kortisses eventually took advantage of Ms. Lynch's offer, adding daisies, roses, lilacs and other flowers to her quill repertoire.

Mr. Kortisses, her husband of 52 years, said she picked up other ideas along the way, one of which has made scrambling eggs for breakfast an interesting sight.

"She takes little scissors and cuts a whole in the back of the egg so she can save the egg shells to decorate with printed napkins and quilling," said Mr. Kortisses, a retired chef.

"She dumps the yolk and things out, cleans out the shells and then proceeds to make breakfast."

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